Indiana State University Newsroom

Center for Health, Wellness and Life Enrichment boosts wrestling tourney

March 18, 2014

The mats were laid down at Indiana State University as more than 200 wrestlers - some a few feet tall, and others full-grown - competed in the third annual Dale Griffin Memorial Wabash Valley Championship.

Indiana State's Center for Health, Wellness and Life Enrichment was involved in the event for the first time. The tournament helps raise money for the Dale Griffin Memorial Scholarship fund, which has provided more than $15,000 in scholarships to students from Terre Haute North Vigo, Terre Haute South Vigo, West Vigo and Northview high schools to help with higher education costs.

"A university setting for an event like this is a major opportunity for young kids to come in and kind of go to the next step in an environment where education is important," said Gene Griffin, the late Dale Griffin's father. "Good health and athleticism is all integrated into the whole society of the university."

The event had 210 wrestlers compete, said Jeriah Threlfall, the center's director. Hundreds more family members and friends also attended.While Indiana State hosted the event on one earlier occasion, this marked the first year the center was involved in the event for wrestlers ranging from 4-year-olds to high school. As a result, the university's students got the chance to help set up and run the competiton, Threlfall said.

"We recognized it was a good opportunity to let our students' intern," he said. "We have students who volunteer to help plan the event and advertise it. This is a good opportunity for a professional experience; to get some hands-on training."

Brandon Pettiford, a senior recreation and sports management major from Marion, helped plan, market and run the event. The experience in working with youth sports diversifies his experience, he said.

"The turnout shows that the Terre Haute community really cares," Pettiford said. "People like to get their young athletes into different sporting events."

Athletic training graduate student Denny Wongosari also got hands-on experience.

"Being exposed to a different population is definitely important," Wongosari said, referring to the amount of youth athletes at the event. "People are trying to be more aware of safety at a young age."

The tournament builds participants' work ethic, said Klaine Tanner, the father of two young wrestlers and a contributor to the event.

"It teaches them that they have to work hard in order to be good at something and not give up," Tanner said. "Wrestling builds character and helps them interact with other athletes and other adults other than dad. Not giving up is another good lesson they learn."

The Griffins had three children who attended Indiana State and think the environment, especially the sports scene, is especially family-oriented, said Dona Griffin, Dale Griffin's mother.

She said she enjoys going to women's basketball games which involve families, especially young girls. Taking people to sporting matches or events such as the wrestling championship are vital in keeping children active.

"There are so many opportunities to just become a couch potato," she said. "We can get children out and moving whether it is being involved in an organized thing like this or whether they just go biking with their family. Indiana State's campus is beautiful and there are plenty of opportunities to walk around. When our children see us being actively involved, it'll encourage them to take up those same habits."

Dale Griffin, a U.S. Army sergeant who was killed in action Oct. 27, 2009, "needed to make a difference," Gene Griffin said, explaining why his son joined the military at the age of 25. The news of his death arrived at his parents' door around midnight on Oct. 28, 2009.

"After we came back from the funeral and tried to put our feet on the ground, the community has lifted us at every point," Griffin said. "To have this group, the Center for Health, Wellness and Life Enrichment, come in and support this event through Jeriah's leadership has been phenomenal."

Photo: - Several matches took place simultaneously throughout the day on March 8, 2014 at the Dale Griffin Memorial Wrestling Tournament in Indiana State University's Health and Human Services Building. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Photo: - The Dale Griffin Memorial Wrestling Tournament brought hundreds of wrestlers and family members to Indiana State University March 8, 2014. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Photo: - Boys and girls competed - sometimes against one another - at the Dale Griffin Memorial Wrestling Tournament March 8, 2014 at Indiana State University. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Contact: Jeriah Threlfall, director, Center for Health, Wellness and Life Enrichment, Indiana State University, 812-237-8503 or

Writer: Dustyn Fatheree, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or