Flatwater Fracas Becomes an Important Grand Island Event

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email
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Some of the top high school wrestlers from across the state will be in Grand Island on Friday and Saturday.

Organizers say the two-day Flatwater Fracas has become part of the holiday tradition around Grand Island.

"It's a great event, it was always our goal for this to be the premier event, the place where people come to wrestle - the best teams across the state and across the region," says Mike Shadwinkel, Grand Island Senior High head wrestling coach and Fracas organizer.

He says it may now be only second to the state championships.

But it takes hundreds of volunteers to make the tournament work. With 32 teams from Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, and Kansas bringing over 500 wrestlers to the area this year, Flatwater has also become an event that local hotels say they look forward to.

"Wrestling is becoming a bigger and bigger sport, and particularly the Flatwater Fracas that's this weekend is becoming bigger and bigger every year," says Matthew Ripp, General Manager of the Best Western Inn & Suites in Grand Island. "It brings a lot of fans, a lot of parents to watch their children wrestle, so it's been a wonderful event for the community."

Grand Island/Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Brad Mellema says athletic events have their own way of boosting the local economy with food, lodging, and gas.

"Wrestling is a little bit unique maybe in the sporting world - if it's a softball tournament or a volleyball tournament, if a team loses, they leave. In wrestling the teams a lot of times will stay all the way to the end of the event," says Mellema.

Hotels say an winter-time event like the Fracas is help to them.

"This time of year, the hotel industry is typically pretty slow, so we love the fact that this event is happening in December," says Ripp.

With ten mats and two full days of wrestling, officials aren't sure how much more the tournament can grow, but it's already more than twice as big as when it first started in 2007.

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