A high school wrestler decided it was better to forfeit his state tournament match instead of wrestling a girl.
Brendan Johnston was supposed to wrestle Angel Rios for third place in 106-pound weight class in the consolation bracket, Newsweek reported.
Johnston decided, though, that he wasn’t going to wrestle Rios, one of two girls who were competing in the Colorado state tourney.
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“I’m not really comfortable with a couple of things with wrestling a girl,” he told The Denver Post. “The physical contact, there’s a lot of it in wrestling.”
But it wasn’t just that.
“And I guess the physical aggression, too. I don’t want to treat a young lady like that on the mat or off the mat. And not to disrespect the heart or the effort that she’s put in. That’s not what I wanted to do either,” Johnston told the Post.
This isn’t the first time he’s declined to wrestle a girl.
Rios, who has three older brothers who are wrestlers and grew up around the sport, was declared the winner since Johnston would not wrestle, KDVR reported.
His record for his senior year at The Classical Academy, a charter school from Colorado Springs, is 37-6, according to the Post.
Five of the six losses were forfeits and four were against Rios. She ended up finishing fourth in her competition class and was the first girl ever to place in Colorado state tournament, KDVR reported.
Another female wrestler came in fifth. Johnston was supposed to wrestle Jaslynn Gallegos, but forfeited that match too.
Johnston still stands by how he decided to end his high school wrestling career.
“Wrestling is something we do. It’s not who we are. And there are more important things to me than my wrestling. And I’m willing to have those priorities,” he told the Post.
Some are not happy that Johnston wouldn’t wrestle against the girls, saying that he disrespected their hard work.
“I think it’s possible to forfeit while still respecting them as athletes and competitors. I really don’t want to disrespect the hard work these ladies have put in. They’ve done a lot of that too. Some people think by forfeiting I’m disrespecting them. That’s not my intention at all,” Johnston told KDVR.
And despite how she got there, Rios hopes that other girls decide to follow her onto the mat and wrestle.
“I’m hoping it motivates them to be the best they can,” Rios told KDVR.
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