BILLINGS — A team of 18 German wrestlers, a team leader and two coaches will be visiting the Treasure State this summer.
The Germans will arrive in Billings on July 23 and before departing Big Sky Country on Aug. 12 will have also visited Sidney, Bozeman, Kalispell, Missoula and many stops in between.
While the Germans are scheduled to wrestle in Billings, Sidney, Kalispell and Missoula on the cultural-exchange visit, the most important part of the trip is forming new friendships and experiencing the Montana way of life.
While stationed in Billings with host families for five days, the Germans will attend a barbecue, play golf at Par 3 and spend time at the Rod & Gun Club. There is time set aside for a trip to Cooney State Park, shopping and an overnight trip to Yellowstone National Park. The team will also find time for a short practice before a dual with Team Montana-Billings on July 27, with the location to be announced.
This will be the sixth time since 2009 that a team of German wrestlers has traveled to Montana on a cultural-exchange trip. During that time, Montana wrestlers have visited Germany four times since 2012 and a trip to Germany is planned for next summer. The sport of wrestling brings the Germans and Montanans together for the cultural-exchange.
“Wrestling is the least important to them,” said Dan Elser, the cultural-exchange chairman of Montana AAU and USAW. “They are more interested in the cultural experience in forming friendships and relationships.”
The Germans will arrive in Billings July 23 and leave July 28 for Sidney. The team will depart Sidney on Aug. 3 and make a one-day stop in Bozeman. From there, the team travels to Kalispell, where they will remain until traveling to Missoula Aug. 8. The Germans will fly out of Missoula on Aug. 12.
Elser said when the Montana teams have traveled to Germany, they are treated “first class.”
“I always like it when they come,” he said. “I like the reciprocation. I know the Germans do such a good job taking care of us.”
The international styles of wrestling, freestyle and Greco-Roman, will be contested. On the Germany roster, seven wrestlers are 17 years old, six are 16, two are 15, one is 18, one is 19 and one is 23.
“They have wrestlers of very different talents from average to very good,” Elser said. “We try to match up the caliber of the talent so we need all qualities of wrestlers.”
Elser said if Montanans are interested in wrestling against the Germans, they should contact host site leaders for the details. Those individuals are: Dan Elser, Billings, 861-5033; Shane Gorder, Sidney, 489-1983; Jason Barnes, Kalispell, 261-4465; and Blake Love, Missoula, 880-8643.