Former MIHS wrestling coach to be inducted into Hall of Fame

By Matt Phelps

Mercer Island Reporter

Former Mercer Island High School and South Mercer Junior High wrestling coach Paul Jackson will be inducted into the Washington State Wrestling Coaches Association hall of fame on November 1.

"The guys voting aren't very smart," joked Jackson. "I guess it's like coach Nicholl says, 'if you hang around long enough people's memories get bad enough you can sneak in.'"

The ceremony will be held as part of the annual WSWCA Coaches Clinic in Grand Mound, Wash. at the Great Wolf Lodge and will celebrate the 25th class of inductees. Jackson was nominated by Hall of Fame members Tom Sewell and Dick Wooding.

"It is a big honor and being from KingCo and Mercer Island I never thought I would get in," said Jackson.

The KingCo league is not the biggest wrestling league and Mercer Island has never been known as a powerhouse at the district or state level.

"Wrestling has never been a huge priority at Mercer Island or in KingCo and to think that people know what goes on here is great," said Jackson. "It is nice to have other coaches recognize it."

Jackson devoted 36 years to the sport of wrestling as a coach. He wrestled at the University of Washington from 1960-64 and served as the co-captain in 1964. He would spend three years as an assistant coach at Skagit Valley Junior College and the University of Washington before coaching for seven years at South Mercer Junior High School.

During his 24 years at Mercer Island High School, the Islanders won six league championships, had 38 state placers with four state champions. Of his wrestlers, 38 went on to compete in college wrestling. Jackson was selected as the league's Coach of the Year four times. He led a Cultural Exchange team to Japan in 1978 and was a Junior National Coach for Washington in 1989 and 1990. Jackson served the WSWCA Board as a Regional Representative for four years and a Member-at-Large for two more.

Jackson was an official from 1966-1980, and picked up the whistle once again in 2005 after retiring from coaching. He is a member of the Mercer Island High School “Sports Hall of Fame” and was recognized as a King-5 Television “Coach Who Makes a Difference” in 2005. All three of his children graduated from MIHS, then went on to graduate from the Stanford University.

"We never set the world on fire at the state level but I am proud of what I was able to accomplish," said Jackson.

Other inductees for the class of 2008 include David L. Carlile of Battleground High School, Gary R. Hackney of Pasco High School and Rick Rakevich of Elma High School. With the induction of these four coaches, the WSWCA Hall of Fame will have 101 members.

Tickets are available through John Frazier at 206-612-3060 on a pre-sale basis only for $20 until October 27. No tickets will be sold at the door.

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