Arlington Eagles host German visitors

ARLINGTON — A partnership is brewing between the Eagles wrestling team and KFC Leipzig.

In the summer of 2009, Arlington wrestling coach Shaun Williams took his team over to Germany for two weeks of intense training and this year Leipzic coach Sven Thiele returned the favor.

“It is nice to bring them over to get experience,” said Thiele, who is a three-time World silver medalist and member of Germany’s Olympic team.

Nine members of KFC Leipzig, which is based in the former Soviet province of Saxony, made the trip from Germany, and have had a healthy dose of both wrestling and soaking in American culture.

“It’s really fun,” said Max Stuhr, 20, of KFC Leipzig. “They are really cool and all the host families are really friendly.”

Arlington traveled with about 35 wrestlers between the two teams to North Idaho College wrestling camp last week. And on the way back, they stopped by Moses Lake for a work shop, which prompted interest in sending their wrestlers oversees in the near future.

“It’s all about getting solidarity through sport,” said Williams. “Wrestling is a worldwide sport and these kids are learning different cultures and styles.”

The Germans conclude their tour with a trip up to Vancouver to visit the Winter Olympic facilities and then back down to Seattle for a Mariners game and a day at the beach.

Stuhr, who is visiting the United States for the first time, said American life isn’t much like he expected.

“There are way more large cars. In Germany, there aren’t that many big cars, he said. “But the fast food is the same.”

There is also a difference in technique, as Williams pointed out that much of the wrestling around the world is more Greco Roman style, to which he is happy to introduce his athletes.

“It’s great to get them to see something different because it opens up their experience in the sport,” Williams said.

While not formalized, an arrangement has been set up between the two teams, as Williams and Thiele have already organized a trip for the Eagles to go back to Germany next summer.

“We’re looking for something more permanent than just going over there once and it seems like they are too,” Williams said. “They took really good care of us last year and we hoped to do the same.”

Williams, who hails from South Africa, didn’t know Thiele, but got in touch with him through his international wrestling contacts two years ago to help broaden the horizons of his grapplers.

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