Wrestling for greatness at Wells Fargo Center

March 16, 2011 3:17:04 PM PDT
The Wells Fargo Center is the site of this year's NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Championships as wrestlers from hundreds of schools come to Phiadelphia to pursue their dreams. For one particular participant, Anthony Robles, you can't help but do a double take when he is on the mat.

The senior from Arizona State is the number one seed in his class and he has one leg.

"I really don't see missing my leg as a handicap. You know, my parents raised me strong and they didn't give me any special treatment. So, I believe I can do anything I set my mind to and wrestling is something I enjoy, I love it and I'm just trying to be best at it," Robles said.

Robles will be sharing the spotlight over the next three days with 330 other collegiate wrestlers in the NCAA Championships.

The Penn team is hoping for home field advantage.

Assistant Coach Matt Valenti is a two time national champion.

"I don't know if there's anything in the world that compares to this tournament right here and the intensity and the focus that not only the wrestlers have, but the fans have. And you fill this place with 20,000 people for the finals and you can hear a pin drop - that's pretty awesome," Valenti said.

No matter who wins on the mat, the city also wins. Organizers claim wrestling fans will spend about $15-million over the course of the tournament.

"You're looking at 15,000 out of town visitors coming in on Tuesday, staying through Sunday, occupying more than 10,000 hotel rooms," Ike Richman of Comcast Spectacor said.

A national television audience will be watching on ESPN.

It may not generate the buzz and glamour of basketball's March Madness, but these athletes are ready to put on an impressive show of their own.

"As far as the overall athleticism of these kids, I think they're the best athletes in the country," Penn Head Coach Rob Eiter said.

All three days are officially sold out, but you can still find tickets online, for a price.


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