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Blast from the Past: Kirkwood led Trojans in '74; 13 Relays records set in '64

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Les Knutson

Sports columnist 

WORTHINGTON — Two days after Sioux Valley dominated the five-school Western Division of the Southern Star Conference high school track and field meet on its own grass track, 13 records were set at the 12th annual Trojans Relays on Worthington’s cinder track on Wednesday, May 13, 1964.

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Graced by nearly perfect weather conditions, the huge meet --- 35 high schools, plus nine junior colleges --- went off without a hitch and had several exceptional performances, including 13 new meet records.

All races were measured in yards, not in meters, and the meet was for males only. Girls did not compete in the Trojan Relays until nine years later, after Title IX went into effect in 1973.

The weather was not so nice 40 years ago — on Wednesday, May 9, 1974 — when Worthington won its first Class A boys’ team championship, paced by an outstanding day from sprinter Andre Kirkwood.

Twenty years prior to that --- Wednesday, May 12, 1954 --- six days after British medical student Roger Bannister ran the world’s first recorded four-minute mile (3:59.4 at a track in Oxford), a huge field of 38 schools (26 in Class B and 12 in Class A) participated in the second running of the Trojan Relays, highlighted by Flandreau (S.D.) sprinter Billy Cone.

While yesterday’s scheduled 62nd annual running of this ever-popular event was postponed until today due to uncertain weather conditions — with threatening storm-like situations bouncing around throughout the area — the “Blast-From-the-Past” takes a look back at some of the meet’s highlights from 60, 50 and 40 years ago.

Kirkwood, Ailts, Schreiber highlight 1974 boys’ action

Kirkwood, a junior, leaped an even 20 feet to win the Class A long jump and clocked a time of 10.4 seconds to win the 100-yard dash. He finished the day with four gold medals as he also anchored two winning Trojan Relay teams. The WHS quartet of Karl Seisler, Mario Guerra and Steve Boucher preceded Kirkwood in the 880-yard relay (1:35.1), before Seisler, Guerra and freshman Dan Sellberg ran the first three legs of the Trojans’ first-place 440-yard relay (46.0).

Sellberg had earlier won the freshman 70-yard dash with a time of 7.8, nipping Heron Lake speedster Brad Iverson.

In those days, the larger schools were classified as Class A, while the smaller schools competed in Class B.

Boucher scored big for the Trojans with second-place finishes in both the 120-yard high hurdles and the 180-yard lows, which were each won by Fulda all-around athlete Tom Schreiber, a future Worthington Community College (now Minnesota West) basketball player. Schreiber clocked winning times of 15.3 and 20.5, respectively.

The most impressive performance of the ’74 Relays came from Jackson’s Rick Ailts, who set the day’s only record when he unleashed a throw of 173-3½ to win the discus, breaking the old mark (169-2½, by Peterson of Marshall in 1958) by more than four feet. Ailts also placed second in the shot put and fourth in the long jump and was named the meet’s Arnold T. Sanderson Award winner as the outstanding field events performer of the 1974 Trojan Relays.

Storden-Jeffers ace Steve LeBoutillier, the ’73 Sanderson Award recipient, had another fine day in ’74, winning the Class B long jump (19-7¼) and placing second in both the high jump and pole vault.

Hills-Beaver Creek set a new two-mile relay record, running eight laps in 8:25.7 with the quartet of Dan Deragisch, John Steen, Vern Baker and Kelly Demuth.

Worthington topped the Class A team standings with 54 points, followed by Flandreau (48), Fulda (43½), Fairmont (27½), Jackson, Slayton and Pipestone (each with 24), Tracy (13), Windom (eight), Adrian (seven), Luverne (one) and Lakefield (zero).

Scoring was 6-4-3-2-1 for the top five places.

In Class B, Garretson (S.D) won with 51 points, followed by H-BC (42), S-J and Dell Rapids (S.D.) both with 30 points, Jasper (28), Chandler-Lake Wilson (22), Brewster and Round Lake (each with 15), Edgerton Public (12½), Verdi (10), Westbrook (nine), Butterfield-Odin (three), Ellsworth (2½), Magnolia (two), Southwest Christian (one) and Hendricks, Ceylon, Heron Lake and Sioux Valley, all with no points.

Weets, Fagerness lead

Trojan girls, set new records

In the 1974 girls’ meet, Worthington’s Kathy Weets (long jump) and Joan Fagerness (shot put) each set Trojan Relays records.

Weets bettered the existing record by more than a foot with her leap of 15-4¾ with Trojan teammate Dawn Eshelman placing second. Fagerness snapped her old record of 31-11½ by more than three feet when she reached a distance of 35-4¼.

Marshall’s Vic Reisdorfer set a new 100-yard dash record (12.3), Slayton’s Deb Priebe won the 60-yard low hurdles (8.9) and Pipestone’s Jodi Prinsen claimed first in the high jump, clearing 4-6.

Marshall won the one-class team title with 52 points, followed by Slayton (39), Worthington (37), Pipestone (35½), Jackson and Windom (15 each), Luverne (4½) and Lakefield (0).

Klassen wins four times in ’64;

Jeffrey, Schuster set records

Klassen did just what Kirkwood did 10 years later. In ’64, the short, but fast Mountain Lake sprinter paced the Lakers to the Class B team title with wins in the 100-yard dash (10.4) and the long jump (21-0).

Klassen also anchored both the winning (and record-setting) 880-yard relay (1:33.2) and 440-yard relay (45.0) relay teams, running with Don Heide, Don Dick and Lowell Steinle in each race.

Windom had a pair of winning Class A performances as Bill Jeffrey cleared the pole vault bar at 12-2, breaking the existing record of 11-2¼ by nearly a foot. Teammate Bill Grant finished ahead of a pair of other fine distance runners —Allen Gilman of Edgerton and Bob Voda of Jackson — to win the mile run with a fine time of 4:36.8 and take home the Durbahn Trophy.

Worthington’s Larry Schuster set a new high jump record, clearing 5-11½ and the Trojans received a first-place performance from Bill Feikema with a distance of 150-9½.

One of the day’s best times came from the Flandreau Indian School’s two-mile relay team of Keith McKenzie, Arnold Costa, Ken Plentyhoops and Paul Moss which clocked a fantastic record-setting time of 8:13.4. Moss anchored with a 1:59.5 split.

Mountain Lake tallied 53 points to win the Class A team title by a convincing margin. Worthington edged the Flandreau Indians, 32½ to 30. Two Iowa schools — LeMars (24) and Spencer (22) — were next, followed by Windom and Jackson (14 each), Madison (S.D) and Pipestone (11 each), Sioux Falls Washington (10), Luverne and Fulda (each with 8¼), Slayton (8) and Springfield (1).

Gonnerman sets two

Class B records, Pribyl

wins pole vault

Adrian junior Darwin Gonnerman broke his own Class B record in the discus by 19 feet when he uncorked a throw of 161-3. Gonnerman, who starred again at the ’65 Relays and later played football for South Dakota State University in Brookings (S.D.), also set a new shot put record (53-¼) and placed third in the broad jump.

Heron Lake sophomore Wally Pribyl broke on the scene by clearing 11 feet to win the Class B pole vault.

Mark Astrop of Hills won the 100-yard dash (10.3) and Gene Schmaltz of Westbrook placed first in the broad jump (20-¾).

Bricelyn, paced by the dual wins of Bob Lund (high jump, 5-9; 180-yard low hurdles, 20.9), claimed the Class B team title with 42½ points. Hills was second (29) with Adrian and Edgerton tying for third with 20 points each. George (Iowa) and Kiester tied for fifth with 16 points each, followed by Milford (Iowa) with 14, Lake Benton (13), Frost (11), Elmore (8½), Magnolia and Ivanhoe (each with seven), Minneota (six), Comfrey and Heron Lake (five each), Balaton and Sleepy Eye (both with four) and Ellsworth, Chandler and Wabasso each with three points.

The ’64 Trojan Relays were scored 5-4-3-2-1 for the top five places.

Bluejays set 880-yard relay record

Nine junior college teams also competed in the ’64 Classic, including, of course, the Worthington State Junior College (WSJC) Bluejays.

A highlight for the local team was the record-setting performance by the winning 880-yard relay team of Leon Zevenbergen, Gerald Smith, Tom Wittkop and Rod Olsen, who blistered a time of 1:32.8 over the two-lap race.

Two Nebraska schools, Norfolk (84) and Fairbury (44) topped the teams standings, followed by WSJC (31), Concordia (20), Rochester (18), Waldorf (Iowa), nine; Itasca, seven; Ellsworth (Wisconsin), six; and Wessington Springs (S.D.), six.

Fairbury’s Brad Bowker had an outstanding day, winning four events, including setting records in the 120-yard high hurdles (15.1), the 180-yard low hurdles (19.9) and the broad jump (21-5¾). He also won the 100-yard dash with a time of 10.3.

Bowker’s high hurdle record snapped the mark of 15.3 set by Ron Long of Worthington in 1959.

Strohman, Wulf lead

Sioux Valley in ‘64

Paced by the dual victories of Ken Strohman and Rich Wulf, the Sioux Valley Warriors dominated the five-team Western Division of the Southern Star Conference Meet on Monday, May 11, 1964.

Strohman won both the broad jump (19-4) and the 100-yard dash (10.8), while Wulf won the discus (115-6) and the 220-yard dash (24.0). Strohman finished second in the 220 and Wulf was second in the 100. Both were part of the Warriors’ winning 880-yard relay team.

Sioux Valley racked up 121 points, more than the other four — Round Lake (30), Brewster (28), Okabena (16) and Heron Lake (10) — combined.

Morrow, Cone, Brewster

440-yard relay among the

1954 highlights

Garden City’s Stan Morrow cleared 11-1 in 1954, breaking the pole vault record of 11-0 set by Worthington’s Daryl Voss in the inaugural 1953 Trojan Relays. Morrow also placed second in the broad jump.

Cone clocked a sizzling time of 10.2 seconds in the 100-yard dash prelims and then won with a time of 10.3 in the finals. He ran an impressive anchor leg on Flandreau’s winning 880-yard relay, which clocked a time of 1:37.4.

Finishing second in that race was the Worthington team of Randy Griffith, Jim Arneson, Bob Braun and Jim Crockett. Griffith finished second to Cone in the 100.

In Class B, Brewster’s foursome of Rod Haberman, Bob Voss, Gary Frahm and Jerry Frey sprinted to a new record time of 47.8, bettering the mark of 48.4 set by Spirit Lake (Iowa) the year before.

“Jerry Frey was our fastest guy,” remembers Haberman. “We had a good relay team and that record lasted for quite a few years.”

Frey scored three more points for the Bulldogs by finishing third in the Class B 100-yard dash.

In the team standings, two Iowa schools — Estherville (Class A) and Hartley (Class B) — topped the team standings list in 1954.

The Class A standings were Estherville (35½), Madison (30½), Flandreau (20), Worthington (19), Luverne and Tracy (9½ each), Pipestone (8½), Jackson (six), Spirit Lake (three) and Marshall (two).

Hartley edged Elmore, 23 to 22½, to win Class B, followed by Garden City (16), Sibley (14), Winnebago (11), Rock Rapids and Frost (nine each), Hull (8½), Brewster (eight), Cleveland (five), Kiester (4½), Fulda (three), Harris (two) and both Ivanhoe and Walnut Grove with one point each.

Four other teams —two in each class — did not score.

So, there’s a look back at some of the things that happened in the Trojan Relays from 40, 50 and 60 years ago.

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