The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

July 14, 2013

Book research uncovers past century's vast athletic talent

(Continued)

Although Swanson played more than one sport, he was most noteworthy in golf, where he won a state title in 2001 by 11 strokes. His second round score of 65 outpaced the second-place finisher by nine strokes.

Swanson’s impact is best felt in one sport, but his achievements are worthy of being placed in the book.

It’s a fine line to walk, but we’ve tried to include both sets of athletes in the book, to show the great achievements of everyone at these four previously mentioned schools.

During my research, another item has become clear – not all decades are created equal. The powerful performances of the 1960s and before made making the list in the 1960s or before as competitive as any other decade.

In those years, we were comparing athletes that went on to Division I programs and even in the professional ranks for some, including Tom Hilgendorf and Slater.

For all the power of the 1960s and before, the 1970s didn’t register as many titles or Division I scholar athletes. Sure, there was the 1976 Steamers that went on to win a state title with Jim Snyder powering through the line as the school’s all-time leading rusher, and the St. Mary’s basketball teams of 1975 and ‘77, but the 1970s has been the most difficult decade as of yet to find the all-time greats. But our research isn’t finished yet, so who knows what we’ll uncover in the coming weeks.

Although there were still many quality athletes in the 1970s, the team and athletic titles picked up to a whole new level in the 1980s. Clinton’s gymnastics, cross country, golf and wrestling teams all won championships in the decade, while Camanche saw titles in girls track, baseball and tennis. Mater Dei dominated volleyball in the early part of the decade, to go along with appearances in the state girls basketball tournament.

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