Canfield’s Crawford picks Pitt

Wrestling a family

affair for Crawford

By Brian Dzenis


David Crawford wrestles. So do his two brothers, Nick and Michael. His father, Dave, coaches and his mother, Michelle, washes the clothes.

From November to March, the Canfield senior immerses himself in the sport. It’s easy to do that when the whole family buys in.

“It’s so awesome to have everybody focused on the program this time of year,” Crawford said. “My dad is in there five hours a day with the youth, middle school and high school programs.”

At Canfield High School on Friday, he thanked his mother first for the laundry, then his father and brothers for whipping him into shape and then signed his National Letter of Intent to wrestle at the University of Pittsburgh.

Crawford goes to a Panthers program where things are moving pretty fast. From the time he took his first official visit in September to Tuesday, Pitt fired head coach Jason Peters midseason, then hired Keith Gavin, got picked to host the 2019 NCAA Tournament and announced the construction of new wrestling facilities. The No. 24-ranked Panthers’ interest in Crawford remained the same even with the regime change.

“Their whole plan about believing in the process about getting better every single day, I really caught on to that,” Crawford said. “I liked the city a lot and it’s a great school academically, too.”

The 182-pound senior is coming off a thrilling junior campaign where he won a district title in double-overtime and the Division II 172-pound state title in overtime. Saying his family played a role in that isn’t just talk. During the district final match, Dave — an assistant coach with the Cardinals — made a key protest to officials that put time on the clock that allowed Crawford to win the title. The entire Crawford family has earned the respect of head coach Stephen Pitts.

“Over the last 10 years, they’ve meant a tremendous amount to us. [Crawford’s] dad isn’t just coaching his kids. He’s coaching the other kids in the room because he wants our program to be good and he cares about everybody in this community,” Pitts said. “[Michelle] raising three boys — all wrestlers and all football players — they care so much about their kids and us doing well. It all starts there for sure.”

Crawford has 119 wins for his career and is a member of the National Honor Society. He was also a starting linebacker for the Cardinals’ 12-1 football team that made it to a regional final. Because of the lengthy postseason run, Crawford and some of his multi-sport teammates are easing into wrestling. This year, Pitts has opted out of going to the Walsh Jesuit Ironman Tournament, one of the nation’s toughest high school tournaments.

“It takes a little bit of time, but it won’t affect me in the long run until like March,” Crawford said. “For now, it’s affecting me a great amount during practice.”

The goal for this winter is to make history. Should he win another state title, he will become the first Cardinals wrestler with back to back titles.

“Now that I’ve got one, it takes a little pressure off. That was my main goal: just getting one,” Crawford said. “Now I’m just focusing on getting better every single day. I’m not even thinking about that just yet.”

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