Hundreds of Wisconsin and Minnesota wrestlers compete at La Crosse Center, despite recent COVID surge

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – After being cancelled last year because of the pandemic, La Crosse is once again hosting some of the best high school wrestlers for the Bi-State Classic tournament.

It is one of the Coulee Region’s biggest wrestling tournaments.

One that means a lot for Holmen parent Penny Beers, whose son, Branson, is hitting the mats.

“He’s wrestled youth tournaments when he was little all the way up into high school,” Beers said. “And, you work hard for a long time.”

Penny says it’s good to be back at the tournament, knowing her son doesn’t have much wrestling time left in high school.

“High school is four years,” Beers said. “That’s all they got.”

There are 71 teams from Wisconsin and Minnesota hitting the mats at the La Crosse Center.

Lots of teams competing when COVID cases are climbing across the region again.

“It is a concern, but I think you just got to protect yourself, and do what works for you,” Beers said.

Event management organizer Dave Rudrud says each school has its own guidelines.

And with schools back in session, he says he believes the tournament should go on.

“It’s an effort to be responsible and return to some level of normalcy from where we were before,” Rudrud said.

Downtown Mainstreet executive director Terry Bauer says downtown is usually slow during the holidays.

So an event like the wrestling tournament can only help the local economy.

“People have an opportunity to dine and shop in downtown La Crosse,” Bauer said. “It’s very important to our economy.”

And important to the wrestlers’ parents, despite the risks.

“They work so hard for this and have a lot of goals,” Beers said. “And when you take away a year, it’s different. We just have to learn to live with it.”

The tournament wraps up Thursday evening.

Masks are recommended.