LEBANON — Two Lebanon High School wrestlers will receive school district funds to help pay for their travel overseas this summer for cultural exchange tours.

Members of the Lebanon school board voted 4-0 on Thursday, with Liz Alperin absent, to commit money from an academic travel fund to the trips for junior Colton Sallee and senior KiAnté Davis, respectively. The commitment would bring them the rest of the way to their goals of $2,500 and $2,800, plus $300 each for spending money.

The two had raised about $1,500 each toward their goals as of Thursday.

Sallee is headed to Japan for 10 days in June with an all-star team sponsored by Restore College Wrestling, and Davis is going to New Zealand for 12 days in July with an Oregon Cultural Exchange Team.

Both have been wrestling since elementary school and have racked up impressive stats in their high school years, said Michael Cox, Lebanon’s head wrestling coach.

Davis broke a school record with 139 wins for his high school career. The previous high was 121, held by Garrett Urrutia.

Both wrestlers also claimed state championships in the 5A division this year, Sallee in the 170-pound class and Davis at 152.

Cox said each trip will involve travel to various regions in the country, where the team will wrestle against local young competitors.

The teams will use the international freestyle rules, which they practice periodically as part of the Lebanon team, Cox said. When not actively competing, the boys will be staying with local families and attending school with their host siblings.

Cox told board members Davis and Sallee are still working, selling raffle tickets for a Ruger hunting rifle and asking for donations via a crowdsourcing website, gofundme.com.

Information about both fundraisers is available by contacting Cox through Lebanon High School, 541-451-8555, or michael.cox@lebanon.k12.or.us.

The total covers all travel costs, but doesn’t include spending money, Cox said. Board Chairman Russ McUne suggested contributing $300 in district funding above the total the two still needed, so they could pull back some of the money already raised for spending money.

Board members said they want the wrestlers to continue fundraising until their respective deadlines: Davis, the first week in May, and Sallee the following week. District money will backfill whatever gap is left, plus the extra cash.

The district’s academic fund was established in 2012-13 to help teams and individuals with travel costs to out-of-area contests. While at least loosely targeted to classroom-related activities, Business Director Linda Darling said the fund has no rules that would limit its use for athletes.

Cox said the mat club he coaches actually will cut the checks for both trips. He said the club will hold back $300 of what has already been raised to give to the boys for spending.

“So in a roundabout way, the school district is giving them $300 for spending money,” Cox said. “They think that’s awesome, that the school district is is supporting them in a venture that really doesn’t have to do with the school district.”

In a way, through the cultural exchanges, Cox added, the boys will indeed be representing Lebanon High School, along with Oregon and the United States in general.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, just to experience the memory of representing the United States,” Cox said. He said he hopes the two also will meet people “and hopefully make some lifelong friendships.”

- Jennifer Moody covers education issues for the Democrat-Herald. She can be reached at jennifer.moody@lee.net.


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