During the school year 1919, a fire at Yuma High
School left the students with nowhere to attend classes, so a decision was
made to use the old buildings at the prison until a new school could be constructed.
Later, after traveling to Phoenix and beating Phoenix Union in a football
game, the Phoenix newspaper labeled the Yuma team Criminals due to their
territorial prison classrooms. The name has been worn proudly since
by Yuma high school athletes.
Yuma has been competing in wrestling
since the early 1950's, and has produced 26 individual state champions along
the way. In 1963, the Criminals won their only team state championship
in wrestling. Other teams have come close, but the single banner hangs
in the Palace at Prison Hill.
The Crims compete in the Phoenix area for
their region meets. Region championships are numerous, with Yuma winning
two of the last three Metro region championships in central and west Phoenix.
In the upcoming school year, 2003-04, Yuma will
move back into the Central Region in Tempe.
The first head wrestling coach at Yuma High
was Bill Manus. He was there long enough to produce the first individual
state champion. Jerry Headington was Yuma's first individual state champion
in 1953, and he won it again in 1955, and 1956. He would have been
a four time state champ, but was called for a slam and DQ'd in 1954.
He still remains the Criminals only 3 time state champ. Pat Patterson
was Yuma's only coach to produce a state championship team. That fete
was accomplished in 1963.