John Reese

1990, State Inductee
About This Inductee
  • Kingston native
  • Wrestling coach at Wilkes University for 42 years, the longest tenure of any coach at one institution
  • Second coach in collegiate wrestling history to reach the 500 win mark
  • Finished with career record of 515-171-10
  • Led Wilkes to 40 winning campaigns, including a string of 39 straight winning seasons from 1955-1993
  • Led Wilkes to 15 Middle Atlantic Conference crowns
  • Won the 1974 N.C.A.A. Division III National Championship
  • His teams were ranked #1 during 1966, 1974 and 1975 seasons
  • Inducted into 8 Halls of Fame including the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame, the Wilkes University Hall of Fame, and the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame
  • Inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2003


John Reese is in his 37th season at the helm of the Wilkes College wrestling program. This gives him the distinction of holding the longest tenure of any wrestling coach at any one institution. Throughout the years, his teams have compiled an outstanding collegiate dual record of 477-119-8 including undefeated seasons in 1956-57, 1958-59, 1959-60, 1960-61 and 1970-71. He has guided the Colonels to 38 straight winning seasons, 35 in a row. During his tenure at Wilkes, Reese led the Colonels to 15 Middle Atlantic Conference titles in 19 years at the NCAA Division III level. He guided his ’73-’74 team to the NCAA Division III National Championship and his ’65-’66 unit placed second in that tournament. He has coached ten college division champions. In 1976, Reese took the Colonel grapplers out of Division III and the MAC and into NACC Division I and the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA). Despite its small size in comparison with the other schools, Wilkes produced 54 EIWA place winners including 8 champions and the 1976 Outstanding Wrestler, Jim Weisenfluh. The Blue and Gold has also produced 4 NCAA Division I place winners. A native of Wyoming Valley, Reese attended Kingston High School where he began his grappling career. While there, he achieved District II honors and was a PIAA finalist. He started his collegiate career at Millersville State and completed his undergraduate work at Penn State, where he earned a B.S. in physical education in 1951. In addition, Reese holds a master’s degree from PSU. He was wrestling coach at Kingston for two years. The successful mentor serves as athletic director at Wilkes, working with the college’s 13 men’s and women’s intercollegiate sports. Earlier in his career at Wilkes, he coached both soccer and baseball. John, who conducts a summer wrestling camp in August each year at Wilkes, is a member of the executive hoard of the National Wrestling Coaches Association: president of the EIWA Coaches Association (selected in October): former president of the MAC: and a member of the ECAC executive committee. Most recently, John was honored by being selected by Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Reese is also a member of the Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame and is president of the Keystone State Games Committee. He is married to the former Patricia Tosh of Wilkes-Barre. Reese’s career boasts a total of 39 coaching years – 2 years at Kingston High School and 37 years at Wilkes.