For his religious and personal reasons, a Colorado high school wrestler forfeited two state tournament matches against female opponents, making headlines.
Brendan Johnston, 18, of Colorado Springs’ Classical Academy withdrew from his state tournament first-round match against Skyview High senior Jaslynn Gallegos. He ended his high school wrestling career in his third-round consolation fight against Valley High junior Angel Rios.
The brutality of wrestling women worried Christian Johnston. “It’s so physical, physically close,” he told KDVR. Possibly improper for a girl. I don’t like its aggression.”
He said faith, background, and personal experiences shaped his decision. Brendan said men and women are different and should be handled as such, not to degrade female wrestlers. Noting these differences did not harm gender equality, he said.
Angel Rios and Jaslynn Gallegos, fourth and fifth, were the first female tournament finishers. Gallegos, who began wrestling at five, supported Brendan’s choice, stating she considered herself a wrestler, not a “girl wrestler.” Her gender limited her, but she didn’t mind Brendan’s choice.