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Junior High State Wrestling Championship Celebrates 48th Year

Photo Courtesy: OKC Fairgrounds.

Interest and participation in amateur wrestling is at an all-time high in Oklahoma. Look no further than the expected turnout for this weekend’s 48th annual Oklahoma State Junior High Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City.

Tournament officials estimate nearly 2,600 competitors will converge on “The Big House” (Jim Norick Arena) at the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds to compete for individual championships.

“If the numbers keep going up, we may have to go to a three-day tournament or have one group come in on Thursday,” claimed OSSAA Assistant Director Mike Clark, whose father, Lelan, founded the tournament in the late 1970s. “We’re going to be stretched to our limits this year, for sure.”

One reason for the increased participation is the growth of girls wrestling in Oklahoma. Last year there was one division for all female competitors. This year, there will be a 6th and 7th grade division, as well as a junior high division (8th and 9th grade).

Watch it live on YurView Oklahoma (Cox channel 3). A free live stream is available on YurView.com and on the YurView App.

Junior High State provides the perfect opportunity for young athletes to compete against the best, regardless of school size.

“Junior High State is pretty much the best in Oklahoma,” stated Clark. “It’s always been a prestigious event and it just seems to keep growing.  As it continues to grow, it’s even more difficult to win. It’s easier to win a high school state tournament than it is to win Junior High State because high school has four classifications and here there’s only one.”

Photo Courtesy: OKC Fairgrounds.

“It’s so hard to seed these wrestlers because they’re all so good,” added Clark. “You could re-wrestle this tournament the following weekend and have four different placers or have a different champion.”

The opportunity to wrestle in “The Big House”, where high school state champions have been crowned for decades, is too tempting to pass up for many young competitors.

“I’ve got some little kids that I’m working with and they’re second and third graders and they’re all excited to go and watch Junior High State,” said Clark with a chuckle. “They want to work out there. It’s the same thing for junior high kids. They want to get in that environment. A lot of coaches want to take their junior high kids to that kind of environment to get them relaxed and show them where they’re going to be the next few years.”

The Oklahoma State Junior High Wrestling Championships take place February 4-5 at historic Jim Norick Arena in Oklahoma City. YurView will televise the championship matches on Saturday, February 5th, at 6 P.M. on Cox’s Channel 3 in Oklahoma City and 93 in Tulsa. This Ford Game of the Week will also be streamed online.