Mankato, Minn. --- Mankato West hosted its 13th annual Youth Wrestling tournament today. This tradition is a family affair that allows the Scarlets to give back to the sport.

 
After starting with just over 70 youth wrestlers competing the first year of the tournament, the youth wrestling tournament now averages more than 300 competitors every year.
 
"All our refs are alumni that we've had brought through the program so it makes it really nice. It's a lot easier if there's any issues. They know how to handle it a little better and then all our table work, all our runners, are our wrestlers from the team and it's their way of giving back. We always tell them this is a great way to give back to the sport and they like coming out and watching all the kids," says tournament director and past Scarlets wrestling assistant coach, Tim Wussow.


Youth at this tournament are the future of all wrestling programs in the area and that information isn't taken lightly.


"Last year we had three state champs come up through this program and they all came up through the program, so they know the importance of it. We tell everyone of the refs that, treat it like it's a state championship match. It's fun for them, the kids have a blast," says Wussow.


Participants make sure all youth get as much out of the day as they can, especially the youngest competitors, thanks to a suggestion by a past Scarlets Wrestling head coach, Dustin Buttell.


"He wanted the little guys to get the most experience, not just go out there, because you can get a lot of ten second pins at that age so he said let's make it meaningful for them. If they get pinned, get them back up, so we made it non-competitive and they get out there they got a full three minutes to wrestle," says Wussow.


The tournament is seen as a way to grow the sport, especially after wrestling, a sport as old as the Olympics itself, was threatened to be excluded from the world-wide competition in 2013.


"It's basically why we started this, we want to give back. When it almost left, that was a big... eye opener. People went, hey, we got to do something about this," says Wussow, "and that's where we've even seen the Division 1 adding women's wrestling because they know for Title IX it's going to help grow the sport and our goal is to expose the kids to wrestling, try and make a positive environment, smile at them, tell them they're doing a great job."


Teams had an incentive to motivate youth to sign-up as $100 dollars was given to the town that brought the most competitors and this year it was awarded to Prior Lake who brought 43 wrestlers with them.