Islanders to host major wrestling tourney

Some of the top wrestling teams from around the state will converge on Mercer Island, Dec. 20, as the high school will host a major tournament for the first time in its history. The first annual Jack Reynolds Scholarship Fund Holiday Wrestling Invitational will celebrate the life of a referee, umpire and teacher.

“Our tournament will be like none other, since we will have kids from 2B schools all the way up to the 4A level,” said tournament director and Mercer Island native, Marc Kaye. “This event will directly benefit student athletes and schools. The top teams in the state want to come to support Jack.”

Reynolds was one of the most widely known members of the Pacific Northwest Wrestling Officials’ Association. He died in June at age 61 after a two-year battle with cancer.

“We try to keep in mind, more than anything, what he would want,” said Kaye, who spoke at Reynolds’ memorial service. “He was my mentor and friend, and we all want to honor his memory.”

Reynolds lived in Bellevue with his wife, Talley, and was a teacher for the Issaquah School District but had many ties to Mercer Island. He and former long-time Mercer Island High School wrestling coach Paul Jackson wrestled for the University of Washington together. Reynolds and Mercer Island High School Athletic Director Craig Olson served on the Washington Officials Association together. As a result, the Mercer Island wrestling community has come together to work on the project. Current high school wrestling coach Creighton Laughary has taken an active role, and John Frazier is the tournament’s co-director.

“The Mercer Island community has really come together for this,” said Kaye, who has already filled all eight team spots for the event. “We were really pleased with the response from teams around the state. Next year, we are going to have 16 teams because we had to turn 25 teams away.”

All proceeds from the event will benefit student athletes or school programs.

“We will have a male and female scholarship, and many awards,” said Kaye. “Our only criteria is that it goes toward a post-high school career for financial help.”

Nominations can be made online at the tournament’s Web site at Kaye has taken care to consult with Talley Reynolds in organizing the tournament.

“Talley and her family will be our special honored guests,” said Kaye. “I want to let the kids who participate know that this tournament is not like any other, and we want them to know who we are honoring.”

The tournament will also differ in other ways from the normal competition.

“Most tournaments hand out medals to the top three or four, but we will have custom ribbons for the top eight in each division,” said Kaye.

The event has become so large that the organizers are having to make choices between commercial sponsors.

“It is great,” said Kaye. “All the food will be donated, and this thing is going to grow. I hope it rings bells nationally.”

Originally, the tournament was to be held at Liberty High School, but Kaye worked to have the event moved to Mercer Island.

“They were great. All they wanted to know was how they could help us,” said Kaye. “It’s all in Jack’s memory.”

Kaye pointed out that most host schools do not pay an entrance fee for the tournament, but that the Mercer Island High School wrestling team volunteered the money to help the cause.

“All the money goes to kids, and it is great that they would volunteer that anyway,” said Kaye. “The booster club has been amazing.”

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