As told to me by Eli's proud uncle...
Last week, twenty Nebraska high school wrestling teams congregated in the coliseum at Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska. This annual wrestling invitational was scheduled to begin at 10am. The wrestlers weighed-in, stretched and prepared for the playing of ‘The National Anthem.’
As all the spectators and wrestlers stood and removed their hats one thing became abundantly clear: there was no American flag anywhere to be seen. Nothing…....
Because the University was on holiday break, all the students and a majority of the staff were on break and somehow the task of hanging the flag fell through the cracks.
So, with a couple hundred wrestlers and hundreds of spectators looking on - the Fremont Bergan wrestling coach and his heavyweight wrestler took action and came up with a quick solution.
Eli Simonson, the aforementioned heavyweight wrestler, is a 6’ 7” junior and weighs 255 pounds. He wears a size 15 shoe. Since he started wrestling as a freshman he has worn a pair of red, white, and blue sweatpants to every tournament that were given to him by his grandmother. The sweatpants have become his trademark whenever he walks onto a wrestling mat.
Simonson was instructed to stand on the top row of bleachers and the crowd dutifully faced him and his pants and placed their right hands on their heart.
How did if feel to have several hundred people pay respect to his lower extremities for approximately two minutes?
“It was kind of embarrassing,” said Simonson. “But I’m proud to be an American and I’m so thankful that I live here.”
A few teammates thought it might be a good idea to pick up the 255 pound Simonson and shake him a bit to create the appearance of a waving flag, but the coaching staff denied them of this opportunity.
(PICTURE: Eli Simonson wearing his now infamous pants. He came in 2nd Place at the tournament. His record currently stands at 13-5. Eli’s grandmother has decided to buy the whole team a pair of the patriotic pants.)