La Grande wrestler selected to travel to Japan cultural exchange member

May 31, 2013 10:57 am

Preston Armstrong is getting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

But he had to work for it.

The La Grande High School sophomore was recently selected to travel to Japan as part of a cultural exchange wrestling team made up of wrestlers from all around the state.

Armstrong and his teammates will fly to Hawaii on June 16 where they will spend two days before flying to Japan. They will do some sightseeing and compete in a handful of duals against Japanese wrestlers.

Armstrong said LHS wrestling coach Klel Carson gave him the opportunity to travel, but there were some stipulations.

“My coach asked me during wrestling season that if I put in hard work he would invite me to go,” Armstrong said.

That hard work included attending wrestling tournaments every weekend and going to freestyle tournaments on the side.

“After the last freestyle tournament (Klel) told me that if I could raise the money, then I could go,” Armstrong said. “I was very excited. I get to go wrestle and go travel.”

Armstrong said he is looking forward to the experience that awaits him.

“I’m hoping to wrestle some good competition and hopefully win some matches. And I want to eat some good sushi,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong, 17, said he has been wrestling since he was 6 years old. He said that after his friends went to Japan last spring, it made him want to pursue the adventure this year.

And now it’s going to be a reality.

This is the 52nd year of the Japanese Cultural Exchange Wrestling Team. The last two winters, a team from Japan has come to La Grande to compete against Oregon wrestlers.

Now, Armstrong and his teammates will get to compete on Japanese territory. Carson isn’t making the trip this year. Instead, Scott Shannon of Elmira and Geoff Jarman of Tigard will lead the trip.

“Both coaches have a vast experience coaching and traveling,” said Scott Revis of the USA Cobra Wrestling Cultural Exchange program.

The trip is a costly one, however, and Armstrong’s father, Rob, has set up an account at Wells Fargo. Anyone who would like to donate can go into Wells Fargo and ask to make a donation to Preston Armstrong or call Rob at 541-805-9540.

Contact Casey Kellas at 541-975-3351 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Casey on Twitter