YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The Covelli Centre was packed full of cheerful parents and youth as the “big stage” offered a chance for young athletes to prepare for their futures.

The Covelli Centre hosted around 6,000 visitors from across Ohio this weekend, all to watch the Junior-High State Wrestling Championship.

The two-day tournament was for girls and guys wrestling and was organized by the Ohio Athletic Committee, which works to prepare athletes for the next level.

“Our goal is the development of wrestling,” says Michael Baxter, Wrestling Development director. “Hopefully, at one point, they’ve already wrestled in these cool, high-stressed situations and they are more comfortable — and that just makes Ohio better in everything.”

Preparing for a large event like this takes lots of time and preparation, but event organizers say the Covelli Centre is the prefect venue for these athletes.

“This is a great event for Youngstown. It’s also an awesome event for these kids,” Baxter says. “Youngstown, I know, is a little off the beaten path. but the Covelli Centre is a perfect-sized arena. These kids are able to experience a high level-competition arena.”

It takes an entire community to put together an event like this, but it has many benefits for the city of Youngstown.

“Anytime you bring in 1,400 participants who are bringing four family members each, that pays dividends for all types of industries in terms of hospitality, restaurant management — all those types of things,” Baxter says.

For the athletes, the opportunity to compete in an arena like the Covelli Centtr is valuable for their careers.

“This puts them on a big stage,” says Ohio Athletic Committee director Jared Opfar. “The high school kids get to wrestle at the Schottenstein Centre, so this is the same experience for the younger kids. They get to walk out through the tunnel onto the floor, experience the excitement and nerves.”