ELLENBURG CENTER -- James Charland has been a force for Bobcat wrestling ever since he stepped into the gym at Northern Adirondack five years ago.

Charland, only a sophomore, already has a high-school career record of 100-40 and is the reigning Section VII champion at 145 pounds. Given his succss, Charland's invitation to the 2007 Down Under International Games on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia came as no surprise.

The International Games will run from July 6-18 and consist of cross-country, track & field, volleyball, soccer and wrestling. Participants will spend seven days in Australia and three days in Hawaii.

This will be the 10th anniversary of the Down Under Wrestling Tournament, but is the first time a local competitor has been involved.

Charand will compete in two international matches, and will have the chance to wrestle against competitors with styles he has never seen before.

"This will be a great learning experience," Charland said.

"I want to compete with these wrestlers and bring back more experience to my team for next year."

Aside from the wrestling, Charland will experience a whole new world a long way from home.

"I'm looking forward to learning about a different culture. I want to see different sights and just have a lot of fun," said Charland.

The International Games also offer optional activities for all participants, including deep-sea fishing. And, as an avid fisherman, Charland surely will jump at the chance.

"I am big into hunting and fishing, and I am definitely going to be out there deep-sea fishing," he said.

With the wrestling season over, Charland has had to find ways to keep in shape. Aside from a few club matches this spring, Charland will take to the mat in Australia with little competition since the season ended March 2.

"I like to keep busy around the house. I will run from time to time, but for the most part, I do things outside the house like cut wood to build up wind and keep my arms strong," Charland said.

He also is active in the Key Club and holding down two jobs.

This is an opportunity of a lifetime for Charland, and he hopes to make it a positive experience.

"I'm really looking forward to this. If it is something I really enjoy, I will do what I can to get invited back," Charland said. "And, If I get invited back, I will try to get others go with me."

FUND-RAISING

"¢ James is looking for a business or personal donations to help with his trip to Australia.

"¢ There will be a raffle for a trip for two to Australia. Tickets are $2 a piece and are good available until the raffle on June 16

"¢ The Northern Adirondack Key Club will be a sponsoring a car wash for James on May 6 from noon- 2 p.m. Follow signs from high-school entrance. For more information, contact Donna Charland at 594-8851 or Pam Ross at 594-3962.

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