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Wrestling fans, athletes pin Downtown Kanas City for NCAA Championships

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Downtown Kansas City is staying busy this week, trading the tall-and-lanky athletes of Big 12 basketball for the stout-and-stocky build of wrestlers.

The 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championship takes over the T-Mobile Center starting on Thursday.  Competitors and fans are already pouring into town.

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Officials expect 17,000 fans to attend each session over the next three days. Friday and Saturday sessions are already sold out (although some tickets are available on the resale market).

On Wednesday, fans checked out the venue ahead of the first wave of matches, which include 330 athletes.

“This is like my vacation coming out here to this national championship. But I’ll tell you, it’s a touch ticket to get,” Doug Haring, a Penn State Wrestling Fan, said.

“We’ve been preaching to the guys pretty much all week — 11 a.m. tomorrow is what we need to be ready for,” said Steve Mytych, assistant coach for Rutgers University.

“Checked into the hotel. They actually have mats in the hotel for us already so that was really convenient,” Mytych said.

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“The NCAA fans are like none other. They’ll be at the local bars. They’ll be at the restaurants between sessions,” Mytych said.

“This is the place to go when you want to catch up with the old school,” Buddy Lee said with a laugh.

Lee previously wrestled in the NCAA tournament before becoming a U.S. Olympian in 1992, competing in Greco Roman wrestling. He said today’s athletes are on a different level, but some things stay the same.

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“When it comes to mindset, it’s the same across the board. You know, you have to believe in yourself and, at this level, you must believe in yourself and believe that all the experiences that you picked up along the way for the year, it’s time to put it together and have a winning performance,” Lee said.

Penn State comes into the competition with four No. 1 seeds. They’ve won 10 out of the last 12 national titles.

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