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Big week for Islander wrestling | MIHS wins KingCo title, hosts Reynolds tournament
How does a wrestling program top winning the league title by one point during the last meet of the season? By hosting its first ever tournament in memorial of one of the sport’s biggest names.
Jack Reynolds himself would have been pleased to see the wrestling skills put on display at Mercer Island High School on Thursday night, when Mercer Island won the league title 32-31 against Woodinville, along with the eight-team event on Saturday at Mercer Island High School.
“This is great to recognize [not only] a Hall of Fame official, but a Hall of Fame man,” said friend and MIHS Athletic Director Craig Olson.
All the officials working the tournament wore “JRR” arm bands in the National Hall of Famer’s honor.
The tournament was also a way to raise money for a scholarship in Reynolds’ name. Reynolds’ wife and son were in attendance as guests of honor.
The tournament was a practice in organization as Mercer Island, Blanchet, Bothell, Granger, Liberty Bell, Shorecrest, Chief Sealth and Federal Way competed in all 14 weight classes on three mats over two gymnasiums at the high school. Nearly 750 people came to Mercer Island for the show, despite the event being rescheduled from its original date back in December. The tournament had to be postponed due to snow.
“Everyone has been great — the school, the teams and the officials,” said Mark Kay, the event’s organizer and a MIHS grad.
Rescheduling the event was a logistical nightmare for the coaches.
Most of Mercer Island coach Creighton Laughary’s wrestlers were unavailable for the tournament, as the KingCo qualifier was held at Liberty High School on Saturday, which took all of Laughary’s junior varsity wrestlers. Injuries took two of his biggest varsity athletes, Graham Horgdal and David Bowman. And the proximity to the KingCo championship tournament this Saturday, also at Liberty, made it tough to pick kids to compete for fear of injury.
But even though some of the athletes were not competing, they still wanted to be in the gym to help out.
“This is important for our program because we have never done anything like this before. It gives them a lot of pride to be involved with this.”
One wrestler who competed on Saturday was freshman Scott Mills. Although he lost during the first round, his victory against Woodinville was the stuff of legend.
Mills took to the mat with the Islanders behind 31-26, needing a pin for the win.
At 112 pounds, the pins don’t come easy with less weight to use to a wrestler’s advantage. Mills and his opponent grappled for an advantage during the first round but neither could find one. A quick take- down by Mills at the 1:10 mark of the second round would lead to the biggest pin of Mercer Island’s season.
“I was pretty confident going in,” said Mills. “I was pretty psyched up because I knew I had to have the pin or it didn’t mean anything.”
The Islanders finished the regular season undefeated.