From Othello to Oslo, wrestler Scott Bliss’ talent took him places.
He went from high school state champion in the small Eastern Washington city to become a college and national wrestling star and on to become a successful college and high school coach whose final stop was at Mead.
Bliss died Monday at age 56 in his hometown of Othello.
“Scott was one of the best wrestlers we ever had at the University of Oregon,” his former coach, Ron Finley, told the Oregonian newspaper. “He was a tremendous competitor, learned fast and he was a hard worker.”
Bliss was a two-time state finalist for Othello, winning the 135 pound championship and helping the Huskies to the team title in 1974. He also became national high school title winner.
He remains the Ducks’ career dual match winner, a two-time NCAA All-American and national runner-up at 150 pounds for a program that was dropped in 2008.
He later competed in the World Championships in Oslo, Norway, and placed fourth for the United States in the World University Games.
“That tells you what kind of wrestler he was.” said Mead legend Cash Stone, the man Bliss replaced in 1987-88. “He was so good technically and successful it speaks for itself.”
At age 24 Bliss became the youngest college head coach, at the University of Montana, and later coached at Wyoming and Oregon State before turning to the high school ranks.
At Auburn in Western Washington his teams won two state titles before his relatively brief time at Mead.
One of Bliss’ innovations was the Washington Dream Duals that brought together the state’s best programs for head-to-head matches and has continued at East Valley for years.
He was an advocate for women’s wrestling, which led to a state tournament for girls in Washington.
Bliss is survived by his former wife, Cindy Richman, and sons Jacob and Nolan. A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church of Othello.
“We know well he battled some demons,” Stone said. “But he was the sweetest person in the world.”