Missoula Big Sky hosting Japanese grapplers


MISSOULA, Mont. - Monday afternoon a team of 14 high school aged wrestlers from Japan flew into Missoula and headed directly to Big Sky High school to grapple with the Eagles wrestling program. It's all part of a wrestling cultural exchange trip.

"It started five-some years ago and it's a great opportunity for the kids to learn the different cultures," said Eagles head coach Lanny Bryant.

Then on Tuesday night at Big Sky High, the squad of athletes from Asia will even be competing against not only the Eagles but also some other local schools including Hellgate and two or more programs from the Bitterroot Valley.

"It's very exciting," said Big Sky sophomore Gabe Miller. "It's going to be a great opportunity to go out there and really bring the cultures together."

After Missoula, the Japanese boys will tour the Northwest with several stops in Oregon later this week.

Among some of the Big Sky competitors who will duel with the Japanese wrestlers are seniors Luke Entzel and Conner Gordon who both took part in a similar exchange last year when they went to Germany. Some of the Eagles were at the airport today to welcome the Japanese grapplers to Montana as soon as they got off the plane.

"It's not something you're going to go through more than a couple times in your life," said Big Sky senior and two-time state AA champion Luke Entzel. "They showed up at the airport and we weren't really sure what to do. We don't speak the same language but let's try to communicate with each other."

Tuesday's action is set to get underway about 7:00 at Big Sky high school.

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