The Doc Wright Invitational Wrestling Tournament has been the premier event on the Winslow High School wrestling team’s schedule for four decades now. There are still an impressive number of strong wrestling teams that come to Winslow to test their skills against some of the best in the state and to prepare for their regional and state meets.
Some of the officials who work these meets also return year after year. One of the most interesting such officials is former Winslow High School graduate Leonard Padilla. Padilla has officiated approximately the last 10 Doc Wright Tournaments. He was a member of the Winslow High School wrestling team in the early 1970s and was a three time state qualifier. He wrestled under the legendary Coach Herman MacArthur as a freshman. After MacArthur died, he wrestled under the tutelage of coaches David Conatser, Al Fritz and Crannie Hysong until his graduation in 1975. He has fond memories of his days as a Bulldog grappler.
Padilla now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he has been officiating high school wrestling for some 23 years. He counts the Doc Wright Invitational as one of the most enjoyable assignments of every season since he started coming to Winslow. It is a top quality meet that offers the added benefit of being able to return home and renew old friendships.
Padilla said during the tournament that one of his refereeing partners in Nevada is Fernie Reyes, another Winslow High School graduate. Reyes wrestled and played baseball at Winslow High and was a very talented player in the old Winslow Men’s Fast Pitch Softball League.
As a former teacher and coach, I am always happy to see my former students having success in their later life. It is doubly enjoyable to see them doing so in something that is sports related. Both Padilla and Reyes are enjoying that kind of success.
According to Padilla, Reyes is an excellent baseball umpire and works many of the college games in Nevada. That would not be surprising as he was an excellent player.
Several years ago, I wrote a column that was largely about Fernie Reyes. He was not a big man and was what some would call “vertically challenged.”
I used him as an example of a fact that I firmly believe to be true. A player who is gifted with a small strike zone and a good batting eye has an advantage over most taller players. Add speed and good hand and eye coordination along with a competitive nature and you have pretty well described the assets of one Fernie Reyes. That sounds a lot like one of my favorite major leagues, Florida Marlins center fielder Juan Pierre.
It was a pleasure to see Leonard again and watch him at work in the sport that he obviously loves. Hopefully, I will have the occasion to see Fernie Reyes umpire a baseball game some day. Both men have done well in sports and in life.
Congratulations, gentlemen, you have made an old teacher and coach proud to have known you.
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