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wrestling

The state wrestling tournament will remain at the Mountain Health Arena in downtown Huntington for at least the next four years.

HUNTINGTON — The West Virginia state wrestling tournament is staying in Huntington through at least 2024, according to a release from the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.

That means Huntington gets to continue its tradition that has been built for more than two decades and the city gets to reap the financial rewards of its work, which are going to be vital as the city works its way back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020-21 event is scheduled to take place March 4-6 at Mountain Health Arena.

Following the announcement, SSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan gave reasons as to why Huntington continues to be the host of the tournament.

“When you show up, you know that those guys are going to take care of the tournament and run a great event,” Dolan said. “No. 1, they have a large staff of volunteers, obviously led by Bill Archer. They take care of a lot of things for all schools.”

Dolan said the fine details behind the scenes are what have allowed Huntington to thrive as the host of the state’s premier wrestling event for its high schoolers.

Dolan also lauded the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau for its efforts in infrastructure, which include making sure that hotels are secured for those dates and that communication with teams is swift, because there is not much turnaround time from the regional to state level, which makes planning difficult in some cases.

“A lot of teams don’t know how many athletes they are bringing, so it’s a cooperation between [host] Huntington High School, the county, the city and the visitors bureau,” Dolan said. “It’s a team effort and it takes a lot of people and time to make an event like that work.”

From a planning standpoint, Archer and his staff have adapted with technological advances, such as live online scoring, while keeping the nostalgic feel of its in-house scoring display. They’ve also budgeted for rooms for athletes to dress, weigh-in areas and trainer areas.

In addition to those fine details from Archer and his staff, Dolan said the facility itself has gone through proper upgrades in terms of looks and accessibility to continue progress for the sport’s marquee event.