The tournament started in 2003 and is designed to provide recognition for the small school grapplers. The OSAA groups 1A and 2A wrestlers for the official state wrestling tournament.
“In 2002, Crane hosted the district meet,” said Jerry Holloway, one of the organizers of the event. “Crane did not have a kid qualify for state, but Coach Dave Doman offered to help and take a kid from Elgin to the state tournament. 1A schools help each other out like that. The following year, we decided to host just a 1A tournament.”
Crane hosted that first tournament with 14 teams in attendance and in the end, Wallowa was crowned champion. Since that time, the tournament rotates around the state so travel is shared among the east and west coast teams.
In addition to sole 1A schools in attendance, smaller schools in a coop with a larger school are urged to also attend.
‘Some schools only send one wrestler as that is all they have on their team,” Holloway explained. “However, they get here and where they stay while at the tournament, we make it work for these small teams.”
Holloway said wrestling is seeing an uptick among the small schools and like the nationwide trend, participation among girls is increasing also.
“We provide belt buckles for the champions,” said Holloway. “If we have enough girls for a bracket, they will also receive awards for their efforts.”
The tournament opens Saturday, Jan.22 in the Crane High School gym. The first matches are scheduled to take to the mat at 10 am. While there, tickets will be available to win ¼ of a beef with all proceeds from the raffle going to the Crane Booster Club. Tickets are $10 each.