Flatwater Fracas Tournament Continues to Grow

By: Morgan Demmel Email
By: Morgan Demmel Email

High school students from across Nebraska, and neighboring states, are flooding Grand Island this weekend to take part in the annual Flatwater Fracas wrestling tournament.

"On this week traditionally we had the Grand Island Invite," Grand Island Senior High Head Coach Mike Schadwinkel says.

But with the addition of the Heartland Event Center to Grand Island, Schadwinkel says the GISH coaching staff decided to try an even bigger event.

The Flatwater Fracas started with just 12 teams five years ago, and now 500 wrestlers and their families and fans flood the Heartland Event Center for the tournament each year.

"It's really grown nicely, we've got the out-of-state teams coming in and we've got all 4 classes represented in Nebraska and so it's really grown into a really nice event," Schadwinkel says.

Thirty teams from Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming and Colorado are competing. Coaches and parents say it's a great way to start the season.

David Bartlett is in Grand Island supporting his son and the East High School team out of Cheyenne.

"When we get into the heart of the season, we're wrestling the teams in our league, so the goal is to wrestle as tough of competition as we can in the preseason to get them ready for that competition," Bartlett says.

He says even if that means crossing state lines.

Grand Island Chamber of Commerce officials say the city is happy to welcome those out-of-state visitors.

"When people come to these type of events, they not only go out to eat, they also shop, they fill up their car with gas," Chamber of Commerce Workforce Development Coordinator Mary Berlie says.

Berlie says the visitors also stay in the city's hotels. And with the holidays rapidly approaching, some fans are even catching up on last minute shopping.

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