By ERIC X. VICCARO
Ste. Genevieve High School has been named a host site for a sectional wrestling tournament.
That’s according to a press release the Missouri State High School Activities Association released on Saturday.
Qualifiers from Class 2 District 1 and Class 2 District 2 will converge on Ste. Genevieve’s Peggy J. Johnson Gymnasium on Feb. 27, 2021.
This news will help the local economy during what’s often-times a lull in tourism.
“We’re excited to have the opportunity to host sectionals this winter for boys’ wrestling,” said Ste. Genevieve R-II athletic director Dr. Jeff Nix. “It’s a great opportunity for our kids to compete on a big stage, and do so on their home mat.”
Class 2 District 1’s meet will take place at Central High School in Park Hills, with District 2 at Sullivan.
Northwest High School in Cedar Hill will serve as the site for a district meet on either Feb. 5 or Feb. 6, and St. Clair for sectional on Feb. 20.
Valle Catholic’s district meet will take place at New Madrid County Central High School on Feb. 27.
MSHSAA executive director Greg Stahl has reported no site has currently been chosen for Class 1, District 1 or District 2 for sectionals.
In addition, the activities association has selected Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence for the site of the state tournament from March 9-13.
The facility’s name was changed from Silverstein Eye Centers Arena to Cable Dahmer Arena during a rights switch in early 2020.
Independence, a Kansas City suburb, is a 289-mile drive from Ste. Genevieve according to Google Maps.
Cable Dahmer Arena, a multi-purpose facility with seating for 5,800, also serves as a site for minor league hockey, All Elite Wrestling and other professional wrestling circuits and monster truck rallies.
Ste. Genevieve head coach Jared Bonnell reported select Dragon wrestlers have competed at USA Wrestling tournaments in Dahmer Arena before.
“It’s not as big (as Mizzou Arena in Columbia),” Bonnell said of Dahmer Arena. “It’s just one bowl, a lower bowl.”
With just one level of seating, virtually every fan will have a bird’s eye view of the action — which could heighten the drama for close matches.
“It’s a smaller venue,” said Valle Catholic head coach Jacob Gegg, who noted this will be the first time for the Warriors to compete in Independence.
“I think it will work out for some of the smaller schools like us,” added Gegg, who said this may help all the wrestlers focus. Larger facilities typically mean more distractions.
Bonnell said the state was looking for an arena with plenty of area lodging and restaurants.
The Dragons certainly are used to traveling long distances, having recently driven 205 miles one way to Moberly for a regular-season dual tournament.