It was a touch under 90 degrees as wrestlers from the Flathead Valley and Germany started their warmups at Legends Stadium ahead of their dual on Wednesday.
A football stadium is undoubtedly an odd place for a wrestling match, but since the gyms at Flathead High School are undergoing renovations, event organizers improvised.
The match was part of an exchange program where wrestlers from Baden-Württemberg, Germany, spent the week in northwest Montana, hosted by the Flathead Valley wrestlers. Earlier in the week, the German team was shown all that the Flathead Valley had to offer with visits to Whitefish Lake, Glacier National Park and Foy’s Lake.
They will play a pickup soccer game versus Flathead today.
Before the match started, the German and United States national anthems were sung. As wrestlers from each weight class were introduced, they exchanged t-shirts, some even thrown into the enthusiasic crowd in the bleachers. Coaches exchanged gifts as well.
Despite being at a football stadium in the summer heat, it looked mostly the same as any typical wrestling match, with the teams set up on either side of the mat and a scorers table at one end.
The time clock and scores were shown on the big scoreboard.
The wrestlers did have to contend with not only the heat, but the sun heating up the mat and its glare off the mat. Despite this, the grapplers seemed mostly unaffected, though water breaks were imperative.
High school sports are not emphasized as much in Germany as they are in the states. Students often participate in sports after school hours in the evenings. The cultural exchange, however, is about more than athletics. It’s an opportunity to share culture and form lasting friendships, as well as a reward for each athlete’s hard work.
The German team visited Billings and Sidney earlier on in July and will make its final Montana stop in Missoula this week.