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Wrestling tournament faces change of venue

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Landmark News Service

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association has changed the venue of the wrestling state tournament.
In a press release, the organization announced it is moving the wrestling state tournament to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington from the Frankfort Convention Center where it has been held since 1999.
The length of the tournament is being reduced from three days to two. The change means wrestlers will only miss one day of school instead of two, something the Kentucky Department of Education had pushed to revise.
State will be held at the Horse Park’s Alltech Arena, which has seating for more than 5,500 spectators, on Feb. 17-18. More than 4,500 people attended the state finals each of the last two years, according to the release.
“(The Frankfort Convention Center) is a wonderful facility but we’ve simply outgrown it and that’s a good problem to have,” KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said in the release. “Alltech Arena will give the event room to grow even more and it will also help us alleviate another issue that our members face – missed school time.”
Central Hardin coach Russ Pike and North Hardin coach Keith Smith said they’re all for the change.
“I didn’t personally like dragging it for three days, so being able to get those extra mats down and get it done in two days, I think it’ll be a good thing long term,” Pike said. “We can get more mats down and get the tournament done quicker. I think it’s a good change.”
The switch has been talked about since before this past season’s state tournament was concluded.
Smith anticipated the change months ago and reserved 10 rooms at a Lexington hotel close to the Horse Park.
“I think it’s going to be nice. And with six mats, there’s going to be a lot more action,” Smith said. “There’s too much time between matches. You know high school wrestlers get bored easily. A two-day competition is going to make things a lot easier.”
Like Pike, Smith doesn’t see anything negative about moving to Lexington.
“We’re just going to have to see how it goes, but I honestly don’t see that hurting (anything) at all. I think it’s going to help,” Smith said. “It’s one less day that they have to make weight, which is going to be good. And it’s one less day they have to hang around. It’s going to be a faster-paced tournament, which will be a lot better.”
Another positive Smith pointed out was the overly priced concessions – and the lack of a coaches hospitality room – in Frankfort.
With so many options in Lexington, Smith doesn’t see that being a problem.
“Frankfort was always a nice place to host it, but the establishment and the vendors were draining all the money out of our kids and they weren’t taking care of the coaches,” he said. “I think a lot of the coaches said they were fed up with it and wanted to find a new venue. I think it’ll work out for the best. Frankfort pretty much talked themselves out of keeping us there.”