KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is proud to announce that the 2014 and 2015 NAIA Wrestling National Championships will be held in Topeka, Kan., and hosted by Visit Topeka Inc., Topeka Shawnee County Sports Council and the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC). The 2014 national championships are scheduled for March 7 –8, and the 2015 event will be March 6 –7. The venue is the Kansas Expocentre in the capital city of Kansas.
The Expocentre offers 210,000 square feet of event space. This venue has served as the site for numerous national sporting competitions, including the 1988 US Olympic Trials, the USA Wrestling Kansas State Folkstyle Championships and the USA Wrestling Kids Folkstyle Nationals. Click here for facility map of the Expocentre.
The Expocentre held its first event in 1987 with a sold-out concert featuring Kenny Rogers, T. Graham Brown and Ronnie Milsap. At times, there are six events hosted simultaneously in the facilities, and typically over 600 events are booked annually. Landon Arena is located inside the Expocentre and currently is home to the Topeka RoadRunners NAHL hockey team and the Kansas Koyotes APFL football team.
Topeka will welcome the wrestling national championships for the first time in the 56-year history of the event. The city is listed with a population of nearly 123,000 and located approximately 60 miles from Kansas City, Mo. The state has hosted three previous NAIA Wrestling National Championships in the city of Hays in 1980, 1990 and 1992.
"We are looking forward to having the NAIA Wrestling National Championships in Topeka for 2014 and 2015," said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. "The sport of wrestling has a strong presence in the state of Kansas. The city of Topeka has proven that they have hosted successful national events. The NAIA is excited to have this friendly community provide a wonderful experience for all NAIA student-athletes and teams."
The Kansas chapter of USA Wrestling, which is the national governing body for wrestling in the United States, ranks No. 1 in the nation in certified coaches and No. 4 in the nation in youth participation.
Visit Topeka Inc., is a non-profit organization created to promote Topeka as a tourist destination and a great place to hold conventions, trade shows, tournaments and other sporting events. The city's inception dates back to 1854 and is remembered for one significant piece of American history – the United States Supreme Court case between Brown v. Board of Education.
The Topeka Shawnee County Sports Council is in existence to enhance the quality of life and the economy in the Topeka community by leading the effort to develop and promote youth, amateur and collegiate sporting events.
"We are so very excited to work with the NAIA to welcome the NAIA Wrestling National Championships for 2014 and 2015 to Topeka," said Jeffrey Alderman, Director of Sales at Visit Topeka Inc. "This outstanding competition will allow us to showcase our wonderful city to the many participants and thousands of spectators, and is a win-win for our community and the NAIA."
The Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) was founded in 1971 and is the governing body of 10 conference schools located in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Three schools have been members of the conference since its inception – Baker (Kan.), Graceland (Iowa) and Missouri Valley. Peru State (Neb.) became the newest school to join the storied conference as the Bobcats began full competition during the 2011-12 academic year. Baker, Benedictine (Kan.) and Missouri Valley sponsor the sport of wrestling in the HAAC.
The national championships consist of 10 individual weight classes. Those competitions occur during four sessions with two each day. There are currently 41 NAIA Wrestling varsity programs for the 2013 season. For a complete list of wrestling schools, click here.
Since 1937, the NAIA has administered programs and championships in proper balance with the overall educational experience. In 2000, the NAIA reaffirmed its purpose to enhance the character-building aspects of sport. Through Champions of Character, the NAIA seeks to create an environment in which every student-athlete, coach, official and spectator is committed to the true spirit of competition through five core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.