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HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING: Flo Nationals hopes to find a home at KCAC

by on April 08, 2014 10:40 AM

Making the Flo Nationals wrestling tournament a fixture at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex has become a must-do for the Indiana Wrestling Boosters, and it’s not just a matter of financial stimulation.

The KCAC has played host to the three-day event the last two years, bringing some of the country’s best high school wrestlers from 49 states to perform in what’s considered the granddaddy of all postseason tournaments. While she’s optimistic, Heather Marcozzi of the Indiana Wrestling Boosters, must now wait for Flo Wrestling and the KCAC to conclude negotiations over the site of next year’s tournament.

“I’m very much interested in keeping it local because to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’d fly to California to take my fifth-grader,” said Marcozzi, who along with Indiana High School coach Tony Donatelli and a large group of boosters members and local wrestling enthusiasts, organized and ran the past two tournament. “He’s traveled to some really big tournaments, but this is something entirely different. It’s one of those events that’s so exciting and so awesome that you’re actually sad when it ends.

“It’s just exciting thinking that we could keep it in our town, which would be really beneficial to the businesses in the county. Little, old Indiana could really have something big with this.”

Flo Wrestling founder and CEO Martin Floreani discovered the KCAC through one of his partners and decided that the arena’s accommodations, coupled with the rich wrestling tradition in western Pennsylvania, made for a winning formula.

Floreani, a former NCAA Division I wrestler who graduated from Cal Poly, created what’s now the world’s largest wrestling media outlet nearly eight years ago. Although negotiations have yet to finish, he admitted that the tournament could become synonymous with the KCAC for years to come.

“We found this arena, and the arena was very facilitating, so we said, ‘You know what? Let’s give this a shot,’” Floreani, who also founded Flo Track and Flo Gymnastics, the two largest media outlets for each sport, said. “It’s in the middle of Pennsylvania, the middle of wrestling country, so we put our flag in the ground and decided to do it here.

“It’s definitely a possibility that we’ll be coming back. Our contract is up this year so we’ll be in negotiations, but it’s definitely an option. I think the staff here has just been amazing.”

A slew of coaches from top-flight wrestling programs made the trek to the KCAC the last two seasons in search of heralded recruits, raw talent and hidden gems.

Penn State assistant coach Cody Sanderson has attended each of the five Flo Nationals tournaments and explained why holding the tournament in Indiana proved helpful for the four-time defending NCAA team champion Nittany Lions.

“Right now, when you look at the athletes that are competing, I think it’s a great place to have the tournament,” said Sanderson, a former two-time NCAA runner-up and the older brother of Penn State head coach and wrestling legend Cael Sanderson. “I’m also a little bit selfish and I like to just drive two hours down the road to see some of the best wrestlers in the country.

“This is a great opportunity, specifically to watch the Pennsylvania kids compete against the best guys from around the country. It’s also extra exciting to see the kids coming in from the West and the Midwest because we rarely see those guys.”

Dustin Filloy is a sports writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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