Through outreach and understanding, Emerald Ridge High senior Logan Swank and Swedish exchange student Erik Hallgren have created a bond through wrestling.
Swank is not the typical 120-pounder (No. 11-ranked in 4A) who also serves as Emerald Ridge wrestling’s captain.
As a student, Swank is always welcoming and inviting to those at the school, constantly trying to add more wrestlers to the Jaguar roster.
“I think that the last few years have been a growing aspect for the team as guys are having to learn the sport,” Swank said. “But the numbers are staying the same.”
And as a captain and teammate, he will push his fellow wrestlers to be their best and give it their all as they wear Emerald Ridge green on their backs, representing the school and community.
“(Swank) asked me if I wanted to try it,” Hallgren said. “I always wanted to try more sports, so I thought ‘Why not wrestling?’”
So when the Swank family took in Hallgren, a Swedish exchange student, at the start of the school year, it only made sense for Swank to sell wrestling to his new housemate.
Already athlete back home and an avid weightlifter, Hallgren (152 pounds) fit the part of a wrestler in the making, according to Swank.
“He already worked out and liked to keep fit; I thought this was a way for him to do both that and join me here on the wrestling team,” Swank said. “It was a way for us to connect more.”
It was a cultural exchange that carried so much for both Jaguars.
Back in Sweden, wrestling is not the sport it is here in the United States, where many of the top wrestlers in the world reside. Soccer is Hallgren’s home’s top sport.
The chance to participate in a sport that’s not readily available was enticing for Hallgren, but Swank sold him something more than keeping him busy after school. He offered him pride.
“The big thing is, we don’t have school sports in Sweden,” Hallgren said.
His school back home opted for club sports that were not associated with the school, and often brought together people from multiple communities.
“If you go to a sport, you’re in a club,” Hallgren added. “Where I’m from, you have like five soccer teams spread out for clubs. All the guys on the soccer teams are kind of from all over the place.”
No sense of school identity in the sporting world was available for Hallgren, and that often left him wanting something more. And after joining Swank at practice at the beginning of season, that longing he never knew about was revealed.
“I do like it how it gets you connected with the school,” Hallgren said.
Now, as Hallgren fights to get back from a rib injury he suffered in December which has sidelined him from practice and meets, Swank is going through a different feeling he’s never been accustomed to while at Emerald Ridge: withdrawal from not having his housemate putting in the work to show off Emerald Ridge’s colors with pride.
“It’s funny not having him here now because I’ve never had that experience before. You know, where you’re with someone all the time, working out with them and wrestling with them — it doesn’t feel the same,” Swank said. “I know he’s wanting to get back as soon as he can so we can finish this season off together.”