For the fifth time since 2009, a team of wrestlers from Germany will tour Big Sky Country during a cultural-exchange visit July 16 through Aug. 5.
A Montana team has traveled to Germany three times since 2012, with the most recent in 2016 when a group of Montana wrestlers made the the venture.
The Germans arrive in Missoula Sunday and depart for Ronan on July 18 before traveling back to Missoula July 21. On July 25, the Germans will visit Billings before departing for Sidney July 31. The team will tour the Sidney area until leaving to return home Aug. 5.
"I am excited. The guy that is the team leader (Jurgen Trinkle) does such an awesome job taking care of our guys over there," said Montana AAU and USAW cultural-exchange chairman Dan Elser, who has been involved in the program since 2009 and became chairman in 2011. "This is the biggest group that has come. There is 25. Typically there are 13 or 14 wrestlers and this year there is 21. You know something is happening and relationships are beginning to form."
While entertained by their hosts from the Magic City, the Germans will camp near Alder, where they will ride horses, experience a cookout and participate in branding yearling calves. The group will also experience Virginia City and take in Ruby Reservoir. Also on the itinerary is a trip to Yellowstone National Park, a golf outing at Par 3 and a Billings Mustangs game.
Between all the fun while stationed in the Billings area is a dual at Billings Senior July 28, where the Germans will meet the Eastern Montana All-Stars, while competing in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. The dual begins at 6 p.m. and admission is a free-will offering that will help offset the cost of hosting the Germans.
The Eastern Montana All-Stars who will meet the Germans at the Senior gym range in age from 15 to 22, while the German wrestlers are 15 to 26.
The Eastern Montana All-Stars consist of: Cameron Plenninger, 110 pounds, Havre; Matthew Dewitt, 120, Laurel; Jackson Currier, 132, Colstrip; Martin Wilke, 132, Havre; Ethan Boyce, 138, Billings; Nathan Weber, 140, Forsyth; Clayton Currier, 140, Colstrip; Michael Weber, 145, Forsyth; Jose Rodriquez, 143, Billings; Matt Weber, 150, Forsyth; Justin Gordon, 140, Billings; Luke Weber, 160, Forsyth; Clayton Carter, 155, Laurel; Matt Schmidt, 160, Billings; Brandon Weber, 165, Forsyth; Jake Malchuski, 170, Billings; Nick Verlanic, 160, Laurel; Nakoda Siegel, 165, Colstrip; Hunter Gerth, 170, Billings; Cameron Younger, 175, Laurel; Nick Langer, 185, Washington state; Blake Johnston, 210, Colstrip; Merlin Whitedirt, 260, Colstrip; Kyle Schillinger, 234, Circle. Elser, of Billings, is the team leader, Corey Cortez, of Billings, Mike Stokes of Billings, Val Rauser of Townsend and Colstrip's Codey Currier are coaches. Angelo Rivera of Laurel and Reed Gerth of Billings are the referees. Mark Cloud of Laurel, Amanda Cortez of Billings and Nate Zito of Billings are team personnel.
"This will be the first time all five Weber boys have wrestled together," Elser said. "That is kind of cool."
The Renegades and Darkhorse wrestling clubs are the hosts. Langer traveled with a group of Montana wrestlers to Japan earlier this summer.
Elser said the Eastern Montana All-Stars are in need of a 161-pound wrestler. Contact him at 861-5033 if interested.
The Germans will wrestle Team Sidney Aug. 2 at 5:30 p.m. While visiting the Sidney area, the Germans will go to the Trenton Lake Recreation Area in North Dakota, attend the local fair, a rodeo and barbecue, and be entertained at the Medora (N.D.) Musical.