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2022 marks the 16th year of the all-you-can-eat tailgating tradition for CMU’s first home football game

In his first year as head men’s wrestling coach, Chuck Pipher and the local Mizushima family partnered to raise money for the program, hosting the first annual Steak and Crab Festival in 2006. What started with 30 guests gathered in Lincoln Park with a cooler of beer, a cooler of steaks and a box of crab has grown exponentially. “We have been so fortunate to have so many generous donors step up and make this happen so consistently,” said Ryan Mizushima, a Grand Junction local who wrestled for Western State College and trained in collegiate camps with Pipher. “This event is all about camaraderie and bringing the community together. It has become a tradition for wrestling and football families, students, alumni, faculty and staff to come together at the event and then head over to watch the football game together.” 

This year’s event was held October 1 and over 900 tickets were sold. Once inside the fence, guests enjoy unlimited steak, crab, beer and desserts. “Central Distributing supplies the Budweiser beers. In 2008-2009 many sponsors backed out of the event because of the economic downturn, but in good times or bad, Central Distributing has never let us down. Coors is also a sponsor and proof that wrestling bridges gaps! They don’t usually co-sponsor events, but they work together so well for our Mavericks,” Mizushima said. “Bank of Colorado always makes a nice monetary contribution and they have been incredibly consistent. Village Inn always donates pies, Subway always donates cookies. FCI donates the fencing every year which is especially important because it would be a huge expense for us to rent and no fencing means no beer!” 

The money raised at Steak & Crab each year is crucial to the success of CMU’s wrestling program, because it covers most of their travel expenses. 2018 was the debut season of CMU’s Women’s Wrestling team and the team joined in serving the guests at the event and thanking them for their support, as the men’s team has traditionally done. 

“I am very grateful that Chuck Pipher immediately immersed us into this wildly successful event,” said Women’s Wrestling Head Coach Travis Mercado. “The funds that we have been able to raise allow us to travel consistently all over the county in search of the best competition the NCAA has to offer, and most women’s teams are located primarily in the far Midwest and Southeast of the United States.” 

The CMU men’s wrestling season started November 6 with four placers in the Colorado School of Mines Rookie Open. To see their schedule for the year visit  

The women’s team kicked off their season November 4 with a 41-3 victory over Chadron State, a 34-14 victory over Texas Women’s University and 7 Champions in the Maverick Open on November 5. To see their schedule for the year visit 

“Thank you to everyone who attended the event this year and those that have made this their personal must-go-to event year after year!” Mercado said. “With the support of our friends, family, community supporters and those that just like to have a great time and support CMU Athletics, we have been able to create an event that benefits our wrestling programs and allows our community to interact with our athletes and coaches.” 

Mizushima said his parents, George and Teresa, were the ones who helped Pipher get the event going initially. “But now, my sister Lori is probably the single biggest driving force. She does a fantastic job of planning and coordinating everything and making sure the event goes smoothly,” Mizushima said. “Thanks to the community’s support, the Steak and Crab Fest is something that will perpetuate well beyond Chuck’s career and my family's volunteerism. CMU has such a great impact on this community and we’re all proud to support the student-athletes!” Chuck Pipher announced his retirement in October and former Assistant Coach Mike Mendoza is now leading the team as head coach.  


Written by Hannah Odneal