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Memories of racing to the top: Huron High School Class of 1952 recalls earning second state track title

Posted: Saturday, Oct 13th, 2012

Straw Hat Day was declared by the 1952 Huron Mayor J.S. Tschetter, and shown from left are Bill Musolf, Dean Oliva, straw-hatted Rod Barnes and Jerry Bales, who later became known for their accomplishments in helping the Huron High School 1952 track team capture the state title. Shown in the next photo are members of the class of 1952 that reunited recently in Huron. Back row, from left, are, Keith Suiter, Bernie Howard, Arden Weidauer, David Scheele, David Malthouse, Bob Brush, Jerry Bales and Gerald Peterson; third row, Dean Oliva, LeRoy Friedrichsen, David Nelsen, Pat Flanagan, PeeWee Norquist, Jim Williams, Jim Swab, Claus Miedema and Barb Krumm; second row, Don Williams, Jack Shanahan, Vivian Syvertson, MaryLou Knickrehm, Wanda Lyman, Nancy Rudloff and Marlene Vensand; and in front, Ruby Sellers, Norma Boetel, Darlene Vantour, Marlene Erickson, Laura Husted, Dee Schaffer, Fran Cranston, Wanda Jansen, Marilyn Luther and Ron Sande. PHOTO OF RUNNERS BY KEN LEWIS/1952 PLAINSMAN; GROUP PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

HURON — Of all of the Huron Tiger boys’ track teams that have come and gone these past 100 years, only two have risen to the top to capture the state track title — the 1911 and 1952 teams.

Recently, during the 1952 class reunion in Huron, track alums reminisced about their record-setting season and talked about the highlights. Team members Jerry Bales and Dean Oliva shared some of their memories of the season.

Oliva said he and his teammates started building a foundation for success early on in high school.

“We started off as sophomores with a pretty strong background of athletes, and played together for three years. Then everything just came together when we were seniors,” said Oliva. “In football, we took second in our conference, then took second in the state in basketball when we played for the championship against Brookings… then later, won the state track meet.”

How did they manage to capture the title? “We took a lot of effort to get ready and prepare to get things done,” said Bales. Dwane Clodfelter was the Tigers coach, he said.

“He was a very outstanding coach,” Bales said.

“He knew how to teach athletics. He coached football, basketball and track. He was a teacher, a real outstanding teacher,” said Bales. “He knew how to get to the best of everyone’s abilities.”

It paid off. The Tigers were at the top or right next to the top in every track meet in the state in 1952.

“Clodfelter was pretty much a conditioning coach — he wanted us in the best shape possible,” said Oliva. “And he had the help of Don Williams and Andy Kleinsasser who helped coach us in other field events as well,” added Oliva. He currently lives in Los Angeles, but he came back to Huron for the class reunion and comes back usually at least once a year.

It was a team effort to get to the top. At the state meet, Oliva tied for first in pole vault with teammate Dwayne Rykhus, and took second in the high hurdles and fourth in low hurdles. Bales won the 220-yard dash, got first in the broad jump (long jump), and second place in the low hurdles. Rod Barnes was second in the 220-yard dash and second in the 100-yard dash. Ross Matson also got third in the pole vault. In the mile run, Bill Musolf took fourth place and he also took fourth in the 880-yard run.

Bales said the entire team knew they had the capability to win the state meet. “But we had just gotten beaten out by Brookings in basketball in the final game of the state tournament,” he said. “We were outstanding in all sports, but we didn’t want to be beat by them again.”

“The whole team contributed,” said Bales. “We were so happy to have upset Brookings. We had the hunger to beat them.”

The two men, along with their other teammates, will always have the memories of their state track success as Tigers. “At that time, when we won, we were elated,” said Oliva. “Now when you reflect on it all these years later, it is interesting that no one else since then has gone all the way.”

Oliva’s father Mike was on two Tyndall teams that won the state meet, once in 1922 and then again in 1923. “So it must be in my genes,” he said. He does enjoy getting to the Huron area and reminiscing about high school. “It’s more laid back than in L.A.,” he said. “My wife and I have made a lot of different friends here throughout the years, even people we didn’t know when we grew up here.”

“Being a part of those teams in high school was great, and many of us have stayed friends all these years,” said Bales. Clodfelter and three members of the classs of 1952 — Roger Anderberg, Oliva and Bales — have since been inducted into the Huron Tigers Athletic Hall of Fame.

For the complete article see the 10-12-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-12-2012 paper.

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