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Scott Bliss, University of Oregon's all-time top-scoring wrestler, dead at 56

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Scott Bliss, NCAA All-American wrestler who compiled the most career wins over the history of the now-defunct University of Oregon mat program, has died at age 56, according to an obituary and news reports published Wednesday.

The Oregonian reported that Bliss – who also coached at the high school and college level -- died Thursday, Dec. 12 in his hometown of Othello, Wash. of undisclosed causes, though a comment to the article said he had suffered a fall in his home.

Bliss compiled a 120-25-4 record for the Oregon Ducks from 1977-80, making him the winningest wrestler for the program which was eliminated after the 2008 NCAAs.

As an Oregon wrestler, Bliss was a two-time NCAA All-American, making it to the 150-pound finals at the 1980 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Oregon State, where he lost to Wisconsin’s Andy Rein, 4-2, in the title match. He also earned the Pac-10 medal, awarded to the top male and female athletes at each conference university.

"Scott was one of the best wrestlers we ever had at the University of Oregon," said Ron Finley, Oregon head wrestling coach from 1971-98. "He was a tremendous competitor, he learned fast and he was a hard worker. He lived in south Eugene and he ran to school every day and ran home every night, which was quite a ways, maybe four miles. That's just the type of person he was."

"He was a good leader on the team and I think there weren't many things he couldn't accomplish," Finley said. "He was a good friend. It hurts. It hurts all of us."

Bliss’ on-the-mat success was demonstrated before arriving at University of Oregon. He was a national high school champion in 1975.

After graduating from Oregon in 1980, Bliss continued in wrestling, representing the U.S. at both the World University Games as well as the World Championships in 1981.

Bliss moved into coaching, becoming head wrestling coach at the University of Montana at age 24, where he served for six seasons before the program was eliminated, being named Big Sky Coach of the Year in 1987. He also headed up the coaching staff at University of Wyoming for two years before becoming an assistant at Oregon State, working for long-time head coach Dale Thomas.

In the early 1990s, Bliss became a high school coach, first at Auburn High, then at Mead, both in Washington State. He is credited with creating the Washington "Dream Duals," pitting the top teams in a state championship dual meet format, as well as opening up high school wrestling to women in his home state.

Scott Laird Bliss was born in July 1957 in Moses Lake, Wash. He is survived by his former wife Cindy, and two sons, Jacob and Nolan.

A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Othello First Presbyterian Church.

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