Mats at the mall: Putnam City North beats Edmond Memorial in wrestling dual at Quail Springs
Courtney Ernst went shopping at the mall Tuesday night and a wrestling match broke out.
It sounds like a Rodney Dangerfield joke, but it really happened.
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Fan interest and participation in wrestling has declined over the years, so Putnam City North and Edmond Memorial decided to create some interest by wrestling in Quail Springs Mall Tuesday night in the family area in front of Macy's.
“The sport is not visible,” Putnam North wrestling coach Mitch Brinlee said. “Football and basketball get all the highlights on TV.”
Ernst, of Weatherford, was just one of many mall shoppers Tuesday night who were astonished to stumble across a wrestling dual.
“It's not something I expected to see when I walked over here,” Ernst said. “I didn't know what everybody was looking at. I thought it was a band or something. It's different.”
The dual at the mall was the idea of Kirk Mammen, assistant coach at Edmond Memorial, whose father was a high school wrestling coach in Illinois and used malls as a venue for wrestling duals.
Tara Baker, mother of Edmond Memorial wrestler Blake Morton, planned to do some shopping while at the dual.
“It's a win-win situation,” Baker said of high school wrestling at the mall. “I think it is actually pretty cool. It is a great way to attract attention to the sport and what our boys can do. I wouldn't consider it gimmicky, but I am in sales and marketing, so I gimmick for a living.”
The home dual for Edmond Memorial was originally scheduled earlier this season, but Santa Claus had already reserved the spot on that date, so the dual was moved to Tuesday night.
Mats and a scoreboard were brought from Edmond Memorial, and the wrestlers weighed in at the mall. A few chairs were spread around the mat for spectators, but most fans stood while some brought their own lawn chairs.
Spectators also lined up along the guardrail on the upper level of the mall and watched the wrestling from above, including Mike Brandt of Edmond, who heard the whistles and walked over to check out the commotion.
“I think it is awesome in a setting like this,” said Brandt, who stayed to watch the wrestling while his wife and daughter were getting their nails done. “Nothing against (wrestling), but if I didn't have a son or daughter in it, I probably wouldn't go watch it.”
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