While collegiate wrestling programs have been on the budget-cutting decline in recent years, the Valley’s rich prep history has produced 35 All-Americans at four- and two-year programs across the country.
The pioneering wave of this elite group was a trio from Davis — Mike Carr (Class of 1965), Don Pleasant (’66) and Thurman Landers (’67) — that excelled at three different in-state colleges.
Carr, also a standout lineman for the Pirates, became the Valley’s first All-American when, as a senior at Whitworth, he finished second in the heavyweight division at the 1969 NAIA national championships. The Yakima native, who was 20-1-1 with 15 pins that final collegiate season, went on to place seventh at the 1972 Olympic Trials.
Carr then enjoyed a successful teaching and coaching career, and after 25 seasons at Medical Lake High School — with a state title in 1992 — he was inducted into the wrestling coaches Hall of Fame in 2005.
Pleasant is one of Davis’ most dominant wrestlers ever, having won the 141-pound state title in 1966 with a pin and shutouts of 15-0, 6-0 and 10-0. He and Landers were both state medalists in 1965.
At Yakima Valley College, Pleasant was voted the MVP of the 1970 NWAC tournament with more dominance, ending with a fall at 1:32 in the 158 final to cap a 13-0 season. He was YVC’s second state champion following his coach, Wayne Purdom.
Pleasant became a nationwide recruit and considered reigning NCAA champion Oklahoma State before opting for the rising program at Washington, where he was a two-year mainstay at 150 and 158 pounds for the Huskies.
In 1971, Pleasant earned a fifth-place medal at the NCAA Championships and remains the Valley’s lone All-American at the Division I level. After a 3-0 start in Alabama, he absorbed two setbacks in double overtime for his only losses of the year.
Landers was a two-time state medalist for Davis who helped the Pirates take home a second-place trophy as a senior in 1967. But at Central Washington, he really took off and was instrumental in helping the Wildcats grow into an NAIA powerhouse.
As a junior in 1970, Landers delivered the shocker of the national tournament, winning the 142-pound title as an unseeded entry who came in with a 4-9 record. He won five straight matches and topped the unlikely run with a 6-5 decision in the final, a victory that was secured with an escape in the final seconds.
A year later, he earned his second All-American honor, placing sixth, as CWU captured its first NAIA national title. Landers, who is a member of Central’s Hall of Fame along with the 1971 team, taught and coached in the Bellevue and Yakima school districts and became the head coach at his alma mater in 1983.