EWU Wrestling Legacy

Wrestling is a strong sport in the areas high schools. Washington turns out nationally ranked high schoolers year after year and the popularity of the sport continues to grow.  While the club has a history that dates back 8 years, EWU wrestling has a lineage that dates back much longer. For decades, Eastern boasted a strong NAIA and NCAA program that was nationally competitive, producing over 30 All-Americans and 7 national champs, until the team was cut due to Title IX legislation.

Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Members:

Curt Byrnes
Coached Eastern to the 1977 NAIA Wrestling championship to go along with a runner-up finish in 1976 when he was selected as NAIA National Coach of the Year. He also earned Inland Northwest Coach of the Year honors as selected by the Spokane Sportswriters and Broadcasters (SWABS) -- just one of four Eastern coaches to earn that honor since the award began in 1948. He was tournament director in 1977 when Eastern hosted the NAIA Championships and won it by scoring 90.75 points to edge runner-up Grand Valley with 89. Byrnes coached wrestlers Lanny Davidson and Mike Reed, who won five national titles between them and each were selected as the NAIA Tournament's outstanding wrestler (Davidson in 1975 and Reed in 1977). A 1965 graduate of Eastern, Byrnes played football for the Savages in 1963 and 1964. He was a first team All-Evergreen Conference linebacker in 1964. Prior to returning to Eastern to coach, Byrnes coached football and wrestling at Hoquiam and Quincy high schools, as well as Central Washington University. Byrnes left EWU in 1977 to become Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics for the Bellingham School District in Northwest Washington. He retired from the Bellingham School District in 1999, completing 31 years in education.

Lanny Davidson
Every year of his collegiate career was punctuated with a major accomplishment as he finished with a career record of 139-6 while wrestling in the 177-pound weight class. Coming to Eastern from Ephrata, Wash., he was runner-up as a freshman, then was selected as the outstanding wrestler at the 1975 NAIA Championships as a sophomore. That was the first of his three-straight 177-pound titles as he led Eastern to a runner-up finish in the 1976 NAIA championships and the title in 1977. Davidson was selected to the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1982.

Mike Reed
Reed was selected as the Outstanding Wrestler at the 1977 NAIA Championships as he helped lead Eastern to the team title in front of a home crowd at the EWU Special Events Pavilion. With a pin in the second period of his title match, Reed successfully defended his 158-pound title. The 1977 wrestling team was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007. He helped lead Eastern to a runner-up finishin 1976 when he won the individual award for most falls en route to his first individual title. His career as a wrestler started as a 78-pound high school freshman, but he finished as a state champion as a senior at West Valley High School in Spokane. He won the 1971 State AAA title at 129 pounds before graduating that spring from WV, and went on to compete two seasons at North Idaho College. During his sophomore season in college, he finished third in the 163-pound weight class as an American at-large participant at the Canadian National Championships in Vancouver, B.C.

'77 Wrestling Team
Eastern won the 1977 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) wrestling championship, representing the school's first national championship at any level and the only team championship at the NAIA level. Eastern was coached by Curt Byrnes and led by the event's "Outstanding Wrestler," Mike Reed (pictured), and three-time national champion Lanny Davidson. Reed won the 158-pound title and Davidson was the 177-pound champ asboth earned All-America honors. Heavyweight Don Wilson and 118-pound Ken Foss were also All-Americans with runner-up finishes. Eastern hosted the event, and edged second-place Grand Valley by 1 3/4 points. The margin probably would have been more if it wasn't for a tournament-ending injury by Jerry Lorton at 126 pounds. Lorton was selected as the Outstanding Wrestler in the Evergreen Conference Championships and was an All-American the year before. Other wrestlers competing at the NAIA Championships were Manual Brown (134 pounds), Al Spaulding (150), Kirk Greer (142), Jerry Allen (167) and Greg Dardon (190).
Comments