Cedar Falls wrestler Cassy Herkelman became the first female wrestler to qualify for the Iowa State Tournament with her runner-up finish at 112 pounds at the Class 3A district meet in Waverly on Saturday. Herkelman says that she didn’t realize what she had accomplished until she noticed the crowd’s reaction to her final match on Saturday, and then she realized it and go excited.

Herkelman has been wrestling since she was in second grade, and says it has been her dream to make the state tournament. She says her goal for the state tournament is to secure a place on the medal stand. She says she just wants to go match-to-match and be the first girl to place in the tournament.

Herkelman says that she’s received a lot of feedback since Saturday’s district meet, and the vast majority of it has been supportive. She says people have been surprised, except for those who know how hard she worked.

Cedar Falls coach Wil Kelly says that Herkelman has definitely put in the time and the work necessary to make it to state. Kelly says she’s worked hard all season and like other teammembers, has worked hard on everything.

Kelly says that he’s been very impressed with Herkelman’s work ethic. He says they try to treat her the same as everyone else and he says she has the heart of a champion.

Herkelman will open up the state tournament against Linn-Mar’s Joel Northrup on Thursday morning. Ottumwa’s Megan Black also qualified for state. Like Herkelman, she will compete in the Class 3A 112 pound weight class, and the two could meet in the state semifinals.

By Jesse Gavin KCNZ Cedar Falls