By Scott Levine Herald Associate Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — From Duke Slater to David Johnson, the area’s athletic story is a long, winding story, of many successes and firsts that get lost through time.
Titles and all-state recognition aren’t hard to find throughout the history of Clinton, Camanche and Fulton, Ill., sports. But remembering all the great achievements through the decades is sometimes difficult to recall with each passing year.
To celebrate the legacy of these towns’ athletic endeavors, the Clinton Herald will undertake a large project for the summer. We’re honoring high school athletes and teams through a new book in August.
During the last month, we’ve done research about the best athletes to walk the halls of Clinton, Prince of Peace, Camanche and Fulton high schools. What we found is that individual achievements and titles aren’t hard to find.
Teams in Clinton County have registered 90 titles throughout the history of Iowa high school sports. That ranks ninth among 99 counties in Iowa. From the 1932 Clinton High School boys track team to the 2013 Clinton girls tennis team, the successes in sports changes with the decades.
Clinton High School boys track dominated in the 1930s, giving way to a swimming dynasty that spanned three decades from the 1940s to the ‘60s. Camanche High School’s boys tennis teams took a backseat to no one in the 1980s and ‘90s, and now the school’s girls tennis team is a dominant force in the state.
Because of the reciprocal nature of the area’s successes in sports, we’re focusing our book on athletes and teams through the decades. We’re examining athletes from the 1960s and before, 1970s, ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s.
We’re choosing about 10 athletes from each decade that represented the three previously mentioned towns. That has created some debate about who should make the book, and who will be left off, and I’m sure that debate will continue in these towns when the book is published. But like any sport, we have to make a cut somewhere, and trust me, some great athletes will be left out.
What I found during research is that one state title doesn’t guarantee a spot in the book. There have been many athletes to win multiple championships or earn recognition in state halls of fame, and even national ones. The competition is fierce. But it ultimately showcases how well-rounded the area’s athletic teams have been through history.
Not one sport has dominated at these high schools for the entire duration of this book. Team championships are plenty in track, tennis, swimming and golf, but other sports have had good runs that maybe didn’t last as long, like wrestling in the 1980s at Clinton High School, basketball at St. Marys (Prince of Peace) in the 1970s, football at Fulton High School in the 1970s and 1990s, and baseball in Camanche in the 1980s.
An interesting dynamic to the book is the advent of women’s sports in the 1970s. Several women have left a major impact on the sports history of these towns, and many of them will be featured in the book.
Alongside the teams and athletes that were great, we also will focus on some odds and ends to the record books. This is a section that I particularly enjoy. Did you know that Clinton High School still holds the championship game record for most points in a title game during its 1992 state basketball championship?
Maybe you did know that, but I’m sure there will be some entries in that section that will stump the most ardent local historians.
By the time fall sports season begins, the book will be ready. So until then, let the debate begin on who will be featured.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.