The wrestling tournament that began 25 years ago to remember a young wrestler has done amazingly well in its mission.
Little did organizers likely know when they sought to simply memorialize 12-year-old Jason Crawford that efforts would last this long and in the process officially become world renown.
The 26th edition of the Jason Crawford Memorial, which began at a five-team, 150-wrestler event in 1988 in Medical Lake, takes place Saturday at the Spokane Convention Center beginning at 9 a.m. The 2013 edition will likely draw in the vicinity of 1,400.
The silver anniversary edition of the Crawford, also staged at the Convention Center, drew 1,340 wrestlers and earned its place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest single day youth wrestling tournament in the world.
Each year the number of wrestlers that register can vary, but has been steady around 1,300- 1,400, according to a news release. Wrestlers range in age from 5 to 14 and come from all over Washington, Idaho and Montana to wrestle. Little Guy wrestling has nearly 70 teams and 3,200 athletes.
That’s approximately 2,100 wrestling matches in one day with over half of those matches resulting in a pin. Organizers expect to hand out approximately 600-700 medals.
The tournament is named after 12-year-old Jason Crawford, a young wrestler who was killed in 1988 when he was struck by a car while his family was vacationing in Kelowna, British Columbia. Crawford’s dad, Dennis, travels each year from faraway Georgia, where he owns a landscaping business and restaurant, to come to the tournament and speak to all those in attendance.
“When his dad called me (with the news of Jason’s death) it just tore my heart out, because he and I played softball together, we coached wrestling together and we were as close as brothers,” Little Guy Wrestling League president and tournament founder Wayne Terry said. Terry’s son, Travis, and Crawford wrestled together, Terry said. “I asked him if it would be all right to name the tournament the Jason Crawford Memorial, he obviously said yes and the rest is history.”
Spectator admission is $3 for those 12 years and older.
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.