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Cameron Smith

Japanese national team takes on Washington wrestlers

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

It's not every day that a foreign national team of one sport or another shows up on a town's doorstep looking for training partners. Amazingly, that's precisely what's happening in Washington State, where the Japanese junior national wrestling team is traveling from town to town taking on all-star teams of the region's best high school wrestlers.

According to a variety of different sources in Washington state, the Japanese wrestlers are in the midst of a barnstorming tour of the Pacific Northwest, with stops to take on the best of Mountlake Terrace (Wash.) High and Edmonds-Woodway (Wash.) High on Wednesday, and a separate scrimmage meet against the best from WesCo, KingCo and the Cascade League to come on Monday, according to the Seattle Times.

As it turns out, the winter American tour is becoming a bit of a tradition for the Japanese stars, who you can see in action in the above video, which came from the national team's meet with Springstowne (Calif.) High in Vallejo.

The American stop off for the Asian stars also included a diplomatic meet-and-greet with Mike Cooper, the mayor of Edmonds who also just happens to be a former high school wrestler and the announcer of the Edmonds-Woodway high school wrestling matches.

While the event is largely targeted as a cultural exchange for the wrestlers from both countries -- the Japanese wrestlers are all staying with American host families -- there are plenty of competitive matches scheduled between the two squads, with four top-ranked Washington wrestlers and two other second-ranked wrestlers scheduled to face off against Japan's best.

That being said, it's likely that the Japanese nationals will finish with an upper hand, particularly given the format of the scrimmage; the bouts will use a freestyle format, as is common in the Olympics but atypical for high school wrestling.

Here's more about the event from the Seattle Times, via Emerald Ridge (Wash.) High coach Jim Meyerhoff, who is helping organize Monday's big international matchup.

"During their stay in the Puyallup area, the team will stay with wrestlers from Emerald Ridge, Rogers and Graham-Kapowsin high schools. The wrestlers will have an opportunity to attend classes on Monday as well as practice with local teams. They get to experience American life through the homestays.

"The match will be a freestyle competition (international rules, like in the olympics). We will start with an opening ceremony at 6:30 pm, which will include intorductions and an exchange of gifts with the coaches and athletes. Following the national anthems of both countries, we will have 13 matches (anticipated number of matches).

"I do feel that we have put together a solid lineup of local high school athletes competing."

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