In an effort to help re-establish Washington’s high school cultural exchange wrestling program, Oregon has partnered with its neighbor to the north to send a team of 13 high school wrestlers to Japan this June. To help fill the team, Oregon is sending six of the 13, and of those six two (and possibly a third) are Hood River Valley High School wrestlers.
HRV senior Andrew DeHart and sophomore Max Lane will travel with the group to Japan on June 20 for 10 days of touring the country and wrestling with and against Japanese wrestlers from across the country. The two qualified for the trip through a special tournament held after the regular high school wrestling season. Additionally, junior Steven Swafford is an alternate and HRV wrestling head coach Trent Kroll will accompany the group.
“This is a cool opportunity for these kids to cross borders through the sport of wrestling,” said Kroll, who said he visited Japan once in the late ‘90s. “The opportunity to represent the sport, the state and their town and their team is great, but on an individual level, the value of learning about other cultures and other ways of life is something that will stay with them forever and will help shape them as young adults.”
The partnership between the two states is in addition to Oregon’s regular cultural exchange program, which has remained strong over the years and is going to New Zealand this year. In addition, Japan sent a similar group to Oregon and Washington last year and will do so again this year.
“Oregon has a great cultural exchange program, but Washington doesn’t,” Kroll explained. “They used to, and are trying to get it started back up, and to help that Oregon is helping fill the team for two years.”
The group’s itinerary includes traveling, sightseeing and cultural activities, as well as joint wrestling practices and competitions nearly every day. The total cost of the trip, personal expenses aside, is close to $3,000 per person, which the wrestlers need to raise in the next few weeks. To help raise the funds, the Hood River wrestlers are asking for community donations and/or work opportunities.
Anyone able to help is asked to contact Kroll at email@example.com.