CHAMPAIGN • When Illinois head wrestling coach Mike Poeta remembers moments in his youth, he cannot recall any of them without the Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation (IKWF) being present. So, when Cassie Arner, the university’s Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Fan Engagements, approached Poeta about an event that would help benefit the IKWF while bringing more fans into the State Farm Center for Illinois duals, he was all in.
“One thing we are trying to do here in Central Illinois is increase the fan base,” Poeta explained. “And if we can tie that idea of increasing our fan base with also benefitting a premier organization like the IKWF, it’s a win-win. We believe that if we can get more people into the State Farm Center, and these kids can see these great shows—because I believe we put on great shows—maybe we can inspire