The matches were competitive and intense.
But that wasn’t the only thrill for four local wrestlers on their latest road trip.
Battle Ground’s James Rogers, Chris Joner, Adam Smalley and Prairie’s Kodi Walls traveled to Japan last month as part of a 12-man team of Washington high school wrestlers.
As part of the 2016 Washington Wrestling Association Cultural Exchange Team to Japan, they saw first-hand how the universal language of sport can overcome any language or cultural barriers.
“They get along immediately,” said Battle Ground High School wrestling coach Jay Rogers, who coached the Washington team. “They call them friendship matches. We’d go out and wrestle, and it would be very competitive. … Afterward, they’d spend an hour-and-a-half or two hours just taking pictures.”
Rogers has long known the value of such cross-cultural exchanges. In 1984, he went on a wrestling trip to Japan as a 15 year old.