Jayde Harjo, manager for Journeys Kidz, practically had a front-row seat from the store to watch wrestling for the first time.
“It's pretty cool,” she said. “We are kind of slow right now anyway. It brought a few people by.”
The same was true for Carolina Carbajal and Raegan Scoggins, makeup artists at Macy's.
“It was intense and loud,” Carbajal said. “It kept us entertained.”
The dual proved to be exciting as the outcome wasn't decided until the final bout. Putnam North won 38-32 and everyone from fans to coaches to wrestlers seemed pleased with the experience.
“It was crazy,” Putnam North wrestler Austin Carter said of the atmosphere. “I couldn't have asked for anything better. The crowd was more hyped. There were probably people here who didn't know anything about wrestling, but yet they were still cheering. I thought it was great.”
Edmond Memorial wrestler Jonah Moore agreed.
“I would do this again in a heartbeat,” Moore said. “It felt like we attracted a much bigger crowd. Whether we did or not, I don't know. But the way this mall was set up, it was much noisier. This was a lot of fun.”
Brinlee was skeptical at first when asked by Edmond Memorial coach Darren Huff to agree to wrestle at the mall. He expressed more misgivings immediately before Tuesday night's dual when he had to track down some of his wrestlers at the food court.
“It is more of a distraction than coaches are used to having to worry about,” Brinlee said. “You are used to worrying about your lineup and having to make weight. Now you are worried about a guy going off on an escalator to the food court.”
But after the dual ended, Brinlee said the Panthers would wrestle in the mall again, given the opportunity.
“All the kids were in it, the parents and the people upstairs,” he said. “It ended up being a great match and a lot of fun.”
Next time, Brinlee just needs to make sure to keep his wrestlers away from the food court.
“We had one before weigh in (at the food court) and two after weigh in,” he said. “So we are probably going to go home and do a little run as a reminder.”
Next year, the coaches hope to schedule a wrestling dual in the mall on a weekend to attract even more spectators.