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High School Wrestling Packs Downtown Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The biggest event of the year makes its way back to Des Moines this week. The Iowa High School Wrestling Championship Tournament is expected to draw almost 80,000 fans over the 4-day stretch and the organizers are ready.

“I think it’s a challenge to make sure people are satisfied with the event,” said Lewis Curtis, Wrestling Director for the Iowa High School Athletic Association. “People need to have a good experience and we work hard to make sure they don’t have any issues while they are here.”

Curtis goes on to say that they are planning year-round for this event. It requires more effort than other championship events because of the number of schools involved.

“Around 275 schools have a wrestling program in Iowa, of that 250 or so have a qualifier for the tournament,” said Curtis. “In basketball you have just 32 schools to get information to, here you have a lot more.”

It’s not just the participants Curtis has to worry about. He estimates that most schools will send coaches and cheerleaders and it adds up fast.

“We have double the amount of cheerleaders as we do wrestlers,” said Curtis.

It’s not just his crew that works overtime this week, it takes some work to feed the massive crowd.

“This is the busiest 3-day stretch of the year food wise,” said Zach Case, food and beverage, Iowa Events Center. “We have to bulk up on our food for this event.”

Case estimates that they stock almost 500 cases of chicken tenders, over a million individual French fries and around 1,200 pork tenderloins. To serve the fans, the Iowa Events Center has to hire 200 extra part-time workers.

Keep track of wrestling scores here.