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West Linns Toney Chay gets trip of a lifetime on cultural exchange

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO Chay got to see plenty of sights in Russia and watch the talented Russian national team compete.

Even though he just recently graduated from high school, wrestling has already taken Toney Chay around the world.

Chay recently returned from a two and a half week trip to Russia where he participated in a cultural exchange.

Chay entered and won the Oregon Cultural Exchange tournament earlier this year which earned him a trip overseas for the second straight summer.

Last year Chay made the second team on a trip to Japan but this year Chay was part of a team that got to wrestle in front of a large and boisterous foreign crowd and watch the Russian national team in competition.

Chay wrestled in the equivalent of four duals, taking on some exceptionally talented Russian wrestlers in the process.

"It's a whole different set of rules over there so it's kind of difficult to adjust to," Chay said.

But perhaps the highlight for Chay was getting a chance to see the highly talented Russian national team in person.

"They were really, really good. They all looked like monsters," Chay said.

The Russians have a long history of churning out exceptionally skilled wrestlers and Chay was impressed at the reception the team received from the audience.

"The crowd over there just goes crazy for the team. You get more props for being a really good wrestler (than you do in the United States). They're all like superstars," Chay said.

There was also plenty of time for sight seeing on the cultural exchange. The group went to Moscow and saw Red Square.

Chay also had the privilege of visiting a remote Russian town where no Americans had ever been before.

It was a whirlwind trip for Chay who finished third in the state of Oregon at 160 pounds for West Linn last year.

"It gave me a lot of respect for Russia but I was definitely ready to come home," Chay said.

The entire summer has been a busy one for Chay. He also attended a camp at Oregon State University where he will go to school starting in the fall.

Chay plans to walk on with the school's strong wrestling team.

"The coaches are really great. I had a chance to watch some of their guys and they're all really tough," Chay said.

Wrestling collegiately and particularly at the Division I level has been a goal of Chay's since he started his high school career.

The wrestling season in the Pac-12 conference begins in October.