Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

'Little Guy' wrestling tourney namesake is honored

New mat will forever remember Jason Crawford


April 26, 2018

The Medical Lake Mat Maulers Little Guy wrestlers will have a new mat on which to fine tune their moves. This follows an effort by the Mat Maulers, and Dennis Crawford, who wanted to honor the memory of his son Jason with the purchase of the mat that made its debut at the tournament bearing his name.

Former Medical Lake Mat Mauler Little Guy wrestler Jason Crawford passed from this world at age 12 when he was hit and killed by a car in Kelowna, B.C. while his family was vacationing in 1988.

His memory has lived on with the establishment of the Jason Crawford Memorial Wrestling Tournament every April in the 30 years since his death. The event closes out the wrestling season.

Now, there will be one more reminder of Crawford at the tournament - which has gained world-wide recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest of its kind - by the customized wrestling mat which made its debut a few weeks ago.

Every year, Crawford's father Dennis still makes the trip from his home in Georgia prior to the tournament. He encourages the wrestlers to go out, have fun and do their best.

Prior to the 2017 Crawford Memorial, Dennis Crawford got things rolling for a special lasting and visible tribute to his son with a donation of a blank check to Mat Maulers' founder, Wayne Terry. The mission was to match Crawford's donation and buy the new mat.

The message to the Mat Maulers was to see how much money they could raise and, in the end Crawford's part of the $14,000 price tag was $8,000.

Terry put his construction architect's plan-drawing mind to work on the project and the custom graphics. The design has an American flag theme with the center in red.

The mat will have a permanent home at Medical Lake High School but then will travel to the Crawford Memorial and at selected MLHS home matches. It could also be featured at certain special events upon request, Terry said.

Little Guy Wrestling was founded in the state of Washington in 1981 with the Mat Maulers as the lone team. It has since grown to immense proportions with the most recent Jason Crawford Tournament drawing dozens of teams of wrestlers age 5–14 and some 3,700 teams.

Notable Mat Mauler grads have included ML's Josh Edmondson, who went on to star at both the junior college and NCAA Division I levels. Former Cardinal Chad Ripke, who coached Freeman to a state 1A championship in 2015 and Cheney head coach Brad Rasmussen also were in the program. Yet another is Garrett Johnson, who was a three-time state champion from Medical Lake and went on to wrestle for North Idaho College and then the University of Montana.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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