A high school wrestler in Colorado passed on a chance at success in the state championships because the road to victory would entail wrestling a girl.
Brendan Johnston was on the path to advancing in the 106-pound consolation bracket but chose to forfeit his match against Angel Rios, the girl to whom he’d forfeited four times previously during his senior season.
Johnston told The Denver Post that he didn’t want to “treat a young lady like that on the mat,” and that he wasn’t comfortable with the “physical contact” involved in wrestling a girl.
“Wrestling is something we do, it’s not who we are,” Johnston said. “And there are more important things to me than my wrestling. And I’m willing to have those priorities.”
This wasn’t the first time Johnston has removed himself from a major state competition because he wouldn’t wrestle a girl. In 2018, he forfeited his match against female wrestler Cayden Condit.
As for Rios, she managed an admirable season, finishing with a 23-3 record. “Right now it’s kind of still a blur,” Rios told Denver’s Fox 31. “I have three older brothers who are wrestlers, so I was constantly around the mat.”
For his part, Johnston said that he didn’t mean any disrespect to his female competitors by refusing to wrestle them.
“I think it’s possible to forfeit while still respecting them as athletes and competitors,” he said. “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.”