Tom Zelinske has never been on an airplane but he's going for the gusto in his first flight.
Zelinske departs June 18 from Minneapolis for an approximate 10-hour flight that stops in New York and whose final destination is Amsterdam, Holland. Eventually he will be in Germany where he will compete in the People to People Sports Ambassadors Deutsch International Wrestling Tournament that runs through June 28.
"It's a chance to learn how other people live in different countries, see what it's like to live in Europe," Zelinske said. I know it will be different."
Sightseeing is a vital part of the trip. The 14-year-old will visit Masstricht and Vaals, a historic site where tourists stand in three countries simultaneously, and to Margraten, site of a World War II cemetery.
The team will proceed to the resort town of Valkenburg. The wrestlers will travel to Immenhausen/Kassel in Germany, where parks and gardens occupy 63 percent of the city. Kassel features the Wilhelmshohe Castle and the statue of Hercules. Kassel is where the brothers Grimm lived and wrote many of their famous collection of fairy tales.
The actual tournament is June 24-25 in Immenhausen. Each wrestler will participate in four matches, consisting of two, 2-minute periods.
Before returning to America the team will travel to Haarlem, Holland, and Zaansche Schans, home of a wooden shoe factory and three working windmills. The trip's final day will be spent in the capital city of Netherlands, Amsterdam.
Zelinske, who wrestled from 112 to 119 pounds and finished fifth in the section tournament for the Brainerd Warriors last season, was nominated by a coach, submitted an application and went through an interview process. Sixteen wrestlers in each of the 13-16 age groups were selected from Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas.
"Tom was nominated by a coach --they won't tell you who -- who had past experience with People to People," said Kyle Zelinske, Tom's father. "There were a few others from Brainerd who were nominated. Tom was the only one who followed through and got accepted."
International competition follows freestyle rules where wrestlers can throw their opponents to score points. High school wrestling follows folkstyle rules.
"There's not as much riding," said Kyle, who wrestled for the Warriors from 1982-85. "It's more of an on-feet technique and there are only two periods."
Tom has had some experience in freestyle but not as much as folkstyle.
"I didn't do any freestyle tournaments (last year)," he said. "I just went to practices. I don't like freestyle as much as folkstyle."
To prepare for the trip Zelinske has been working out. He also wrestled in freestyle tournaments at Aitkin and Staples.
"I just got done in track," he said. "I used that to stay in shape. And, I lift weights a couple times a week."
His trip will cost approximately $4,000, all of which he must raise.
"We're still soliciting," Kyle said. "He has raised quite a bit, but the rest of the amount I will pay. We're still working on a couple of businesses. He has sold candy bars and now he's selling candles.
"He's also required to bring exchange gifts. Any international competition you exchange gifts with the person you compete against. He will bring gifts from our country and trade them for gifts from other countries."
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