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They'd have filled a hundred highlight reels

One letter writer remembered watching a pair of 200-pound sprinters each break 10 seconds in a classic 100-yard duel. One of them, Jim Bertelson, went on to a stellar football career at the University of Texas and then to the NFL. The other, Pack...

One letter writer remembered watching a pair of 200-pound sprinters each break 10 seconds in a classic 100-yard duel. One of them, Jim Bertelson, went on to a stellar football career at the University of Texas and then to the NFL. The other, Packy Paquette, might have done the same, if not for the automobile accident that took his life.

Another recalled playing in the field while Denny Overby was pitching. "You didn't even have to wear a glove if you didn't want to," he wrote. "Many times Denny would throw nine pitches and we were back at bat."

A third wrote about a four-sport athlete who, like Magic, Dr. J, Dizzy, and the 'Fridge,' never needed more than one name. He was simply known as "Bucky." Another fan echoed that thought, claiming that if Bucky Jardine were 20 years old today, "... sports would make him a millionaire."

Those are a sampling of the dozens of notes I got in response to my quest to find the best athlete in the history of northwest Wisconsin.

The list is impressive. I only wish I could have seen more of them in action. In addition to the four already mentioned, Tom Burke, Bud Grant, Scott Lindsey, Tom McCauley, John and Ben Peterson, Bob Boettcher, Jeff Antilla, Mike Newkirk, Doug Sutherland, David Greenwood, Jim McCorison, Eric Raygor, John Schell, Pug Lund, Walt Tafelski, Gary Bandor, Jim Leonhard, Bud Somerville, Bill Osmak, Andy Pafko, Dave Crotteau, Bob Olson, Dick Axness, John Leino, Mike Webster, Jim Thompson, Ernie Nevers, Jarrod Washburn, Tuffy Leemans and Warren Gall were all discussed as readers sent everything from a single name to their own personal top 10 lists.

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A couple of readers raised an interesting question; "Was this supposed to be best athlete while in high school or best athlete, period?"

Their point being that years ago there weren't as many sports offered in schools as there are today, thus some athletes actually distinguished themselves more after high school or while playing "town" ball than while in school.

Accepting that, I went back to my column of April 11 and read, "Who was the best all-around athlete ever to graduate from a high school in this part of the state?" Whew! Better to be lucky than good, right? Without anticipating the question, I had left the door wide open.

That said, two athletes dominated the voting, with two others also getting strong support. Interestingly enough, two of the four played prior to 1960 and the other two were from the more recent era.

And while the girls didn't generate the volume of mail or names, two dominated your thoughts there, as well.

Because these six athletes were so well represented, I've decided to share each of their stories, beginning next week with two guys who, although they were runners-up in the voting, were big-time winners on the field.

Notebook

Another school has suffered a tragedy. Adam Luing, a junior at Brookwood High School in Vernon County, collapsed and died during track practice. Luing was a Scenic Bluffs all-conference football player and had wrestled in the WIAA Division 3 state tournament. ... Hurley's girls hadn't lost an Indianhead Conference softball game in seven years, but Butternut/Glidden ended that streak by nipping the Midgettes 2-0 last week. Ninth-grader Devon Furtak not only tossed the shutout, but started B/G's two-run sixth inning with a single. ... On the flip side, Dylan Levra and Josh Thiede combined on a no-hitter as the Hurley boys drilled B/G 12-0. ... Waupun's Tyler DeBoer struck out the first eight Berlin batters he faced and threw four innings of no-hit ball before being taken out by coach Kevin DeBoer. Waupun led 10-0 at the time and coach DeBoer felt he needed his other pitchers to get some work. ... Finally, Cadott softball coach Bob Schmick got his 300th career win last week. Schmick went 298-127 in 23 seasons at Chippewa Falls before retiring two years ago. This is his first year at Cadott.

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Carlo Kumpula is a longtime Spooner teacher, coach, official and fan who writes the Wisconsin Prep Spotlight, a weekly column about high school athletics. Comments and requests can be made to: ckumpula@charter.net .

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