A Christian wrestler in Colorado gave up the chance at a state title because he refused to wrestle girls on his way to the podium.
Brendan Johnston was the fourth-ranked wrestler in the state in his weight class and division. Chances were pretty good that he would medal in the state championships, but his path to the gold medal were derailed in the third round – and he would be the first to tell you it's his own fault.
Brendan's father, Jeff, talked about it recently on American Family Radio.
"He chose to forfeit twice to girls rather than go on the mat with them – and that knocked him out of the tournament," explained the wrestler's dad. "He was seeded fourth in the state in our division. So, he did have a good shot at landing on the medal podium."
According to his dad, Brendan wasn't angry that he had to wrestle a girl; his manhood wasn't threatened and he didn't consider himself a victim. He just chose his personal code of honor – prompted by his faith – over his chance at athletic glory.
"He didn't want to use his physical aggression and strength to pin [or] tackle a girl on the mat. That's not what he wanted to do," said Jeff.
According to Johnston, the issue had to do with an unavoidable part of the sport.
"For us the issue wasn't Can girls wrestle? Of course, they can," the dad shared. "But it's about girls wrestling boys – this is the highest contact sport that I know of. There's moves like a high crotch grab and chest to chest, and it just seems inappropriate in many ways for a guy to be wrestling a girl."
Brendan finished well off the podium at the 2019 state championships, but his ethical stand did attract the attention of some college coaches. Brendan has been approached by Wheaton College and Oklahoma Wesleyan about possibly attending on a wrestling scholarship.