Sister site wyoming-basketball.com has added a new area to its site: season recaps. Some of the season recaps that were previously posted on this blog have been moved to this area of that site. See the info below for all the details.

–patrick

The 1943 NCAA champion Wyoming Cowboy basketball team had 15 members. Of those 15, six became head high school football coaches in Wyoming — an amazing ratio considering the total number of former UW basketball players to end up as head football coaches in the state.

The members of the 1943 national champs who went on to be head football coaches in the state were:

  • Vernon Jensen, of Lyman, was the head football coach at Lyman from 1948-51, going 10-9.
  • Antone “Tony” Katana, of Rock Springs, was the head football coach at Superior from 1948-53, going 26-24.
  • Earl “Shadow” Ray, of Casper, was the head football coach at Midwest in 1944, going 4-4.
  • Kenny Sailors, of Laramie via Hillsdale, was the head football coach at University Prep in 1942, going 0-1.
  • Jim Weir, of Green River, was the head football coach at Green River from 1947-52, going 38-18-3.
  • Donald Waite, of Scottsbluff, Neb., was the head football coach at Huntley in 1967, going 1-9.

Katana and Weir faced each other nine times while the coaches at their respective schools from 1948-51; Weir’s Wolves went 7-2 against Katana’s Dragons, with the biggest win a conference championship tiebreaker game in 1950 that helped propel Green River to the Class A title that year.

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Not all of the 15 members of the 1943 team lettered for the Cowboys that season. In all, though, 18 more Cowboy basketball lettermen beyond those on the 1943 team ended up as head football coaches in the state. However, it’s been a while since a Cowboy basketball player ended up as a head football coach; the last to do so was Ralph Winland, who lettered for the Cowboy basketball team 48 years ago, in 1968. Reverse chronologically by last letter date, they were:

  • Ralph Winland (lettered 1968, coach Cowley 1976, North Big Horn 1977-78)
  • Mike Harris (lettered 1961, coach Riverton 1974)
  • Nick Eliopulos (lettered 1952-54-55, coach Basin 1956)
  • Morris Samuelson (lettered 1950-51-52, coach Evanston 1956-57)
  • Robert Porter (lettered 1945-46, coach Shoshoni 1947-49)
  • Warren Capellen (lettered 1945, coach Pinedale 1950-54 and Kemmerer 1955-58)
  • Bill Strannigan (lettered 1941-42, coach University Prep 1941)
  • Jack Smith (lettered 1940-41, coach Reliance 1946-54)
  • George Dorrington (lettered 1938-39-40, coach Hanna 1950-52, Gillette 1953-60)
  • Lew Young (lettered 1936-38-39, coach Lingle 1942, Gillette 1944-46)
  • Willard West (lettered 1932-33-34-35, coach Green River 1935-37, Thermopolis 1938-40 and 1945)
  • Joe Schwartz (lettered 1930-31-32-33, coach Rawlins 1942-43, Natrona 1944-46, Rawlins 1949-52)
  • Jim Jiacoletti (lettered 1928-29-30, coach Superior 1932-36, Kemmerer 1937-42)
  • Robert Outsen (lettered 1926-27-28-29, coach Shoshoni 1932-33)
  • Oscar Erickson (lettered 1924-25-26-27, coach Sheridan 1929-31)
  • Don Harkins (lettered 1926-27, coach University Prep 1929)
  • Fred Layman (lettered 1918-19-20-21, coach Natrona 1925)
  • Andrew Willis (lettered 1915-16-17, coach Cowley 1921-23 and 1925, Lovell 1927-28)

The number of former Cowboy football lettermen who ended up as head football coaches in the state is much higher; that will be detailed in a future post.

–patrick

Two Wyoming high schools have an opportunity to pull off a rare championship sweep — winning the track and field, football and either the basketball or wrestling championships in the same calendar year.

The basketball-track-football calendar-year sweep has only been pulled off eight times; seven of those sweeps have been at the big-school level.

However, Pine Bluffs has the chance to do this in 2016. The Hornets won the Class 2A basketball championship in March and the 2A track and field championship in May.

The football team faces long historical odds — Pine Bluffs has never won a football championship and last won a playoff game in 2003.

The first school to do a calendar-year basketball-track-football sweep was Natrona in 1939. Since then, schools that have pulled off the feat include Laramie in 1969, Cheyenne Central in 1977 and 1979, Kelly Walsh in 1981, Gillette in 2008, Natrona again in 2010 and Snake River, the only small school to pull off this kind of sweep, in 2011.

Meanwhile, Star Valley could sweep the wrestling, track and field and football titles in the same calendar year, a feat that’s even rarer. The Braves won the 3A wrestling title and followed that up with the 3A track title last spring. Let’s not forget that Star Valley is also the defending 3A football champions.

Gillette is the only program to complete this trifecta in a calendar year, and the Camels have done it twice. Gillette completed the wrestling-track-football sweep in a calendar year first in 2006 and again in 2008.

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As noted, Star Valley won the football, wrestling and track and field titles in the 2015-16 academic year. That’s only happened five times in state history, and Star Valley became the first school to do so twice. The Braves joined Cheyenne Central (1965-66), Gillette (2008-09) and Powell (2013-14) in such a sweep; Star Valley also pulled off the same championship trifecta in 1982-83.

Eleven times, schools have swept the football-basketball-track titles in the same academic year: Sheridan in 1958-59; both Byron and Laramie in 1968-69; Cheyenne Central in 1977-78; both Southeast and Kelly Walsh in 1980-81; Burlington in 1994-95; Gillette in 1998-99; Snake River in both 2010-11 and 2011-12; and Natrona in 2014-15.

 

–patrick

When the Gillette high school football programs split apart in a year, the question a lot of Gillette Camel fans can’t seem to shake is the one about the potential success of their program.

When Thunder Basin opens — and begins Class 4A varsity play — in the 2017-18 school year, will both the Camels and the ‘Bolts have enough to be successful?

In this state, quite honestly, there’s not a lot of precedent for what’s going to happen in Gillette. Wyoming has only had two communities go from one comprehensive high school to two comprehensive high schools: Cheyenne in 1960 and Casper in 1966.

Granted, those splits happened more than 50 years ago now. Even so, looking at those results gives us an idea of how well both Gillette and Thunder Basin might do on the scoreboard.

In short: The splits had unpredictable effects on the football programs at the older of the two schools. Natrona’s winning percentage fell off slightly in the 10 years after Kelly Walsh opened in Casper; Cheyenne Central’s winning percentage improved dramatically after East opened.

Meanwhile, Cheyenne East and Kelly Walsh had nearly identical (and sub-.500) winning percentages in their first 10 years on the field.

Football in Cheyenne
Cheyenne Central records, 10 years before the split: 3-6-1, 4-4, 4-5, 6-2-1, 7-3, 5-3, 7-2, 5-3, 3-5-1, 3-5-1 (47-38-4, .551)
Cheyenne Central records, 10 years after the split: 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-2, 6-4, 9-0-1, 8-2, 6-4, 8-1, 6-2-1 (63-31-2, .667)
Cheyenne East records, first 10 years: 2-6-1, 5-4, 4-5, 5-5, 3-6, 5-4, 3-6, 7-3, 2-7, 6-2-1 (42-48-2, .467)

Football in Casper
Natrona records, 10 years before the split: 4-4-1, 2-6-1, 6-1-1, 2-6-1, 3-4-2, 8-1, 5-1-2, 7-1-1, 9-0, 7-2 (53-26-9, .653)
Natrona records, 10 years after the split: 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-3, 3-7, 6-2, 7-1-1, 7-2, 6-3, 7-2 (56-36-1, .608)
Kelly Walsh records, first 10 years: 0-8, 6-4, 5-5, 2-8, 6-3-1, 5-3-1, 4-5, 9-1, 5-4, 0-8-1 (42-49-3, .463)

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The splits arguably had more effect on the basketball floor — and in opposite directions for the different cities.

Cheyenne Central’s last title before its split with Cheyenne East was in 1956. However, in the first three years after East opened (1961-63), Central won three consecutive state titles. East didn’t win its first championship until 1988, but was a fairly consistent state tournament qualifier up until that title.

Casper basketball, though, suffered deeply as a result of the split, but the recovery came within a decade. Neither Natrona nor Kelly Walsh made the state tournament in KW’s first three years — 1967, 1968 and 1969. Natrona won the state title, though, in 1970, and KW won back-to-back titles in 1974 and 1975. The Trojans’ opponent in the 1974 title game? Natrona.

Basketball in Cheyenne
Cheyenne Central state tournament finishes, 10 years before the split: consolation title game loss 1960; no state 1959; 2nd 1958; qualified 1957; 1st 1956; 2nd 1955; 3rd 1954; 1st 1953; 1st 1952; 1st 1951
Cheyenne Central state tournament finishes, 10 years after the split: 1st 1961; 1st 1962; 1st 1963; 5th 1964; 4th 1965; 3rd 1966; 1st 1967; 4th 1968; 2nd 1969; 3rd 1970
Cheyenne East state tournament finishes, first 10 years: no state 1961; 4th 1962; qualified 1963; qualified 1964; no state 1965, no state 1966; 4th 1967; 2nd 1968; 4th 1969; no state 1970

Basketball in Casper
Natrona state tournament finishes, 10 years before the split: 4th 1966; no state 1965; 3rd 1964; 3rd 1963; qualified 1962; qualified 1961; qualified 1960; qualified 1959; consolation title 1958; qualified 1957
Natrona state tournament finishes, 10 years after the split: no state 1967; no state 1968; no state 1969; 1st 1970; 4th 1971; 5th 1972; 4th 1973; 2nd 1974; 3rd 1975; 6th 1976
Kelly Walsh state tournament finishes, first 10 years: no state 1967; no state 1968; no state 1969; no state 1970; no state 1971; no state 1972; third 1973; 1st 1974, 1st 1975; 5th 1976

It will be interesting to see how Gillette and Thunder Basin handle this split. Interscholastic sports are much more complex than they were in 1966, including the fact that 51 percent of our population now has opportunities to participate in ways they couldn’t in the 1960s. Sports offerings are also more diverse than ever.

And it will be interesting to track how the split affects a successful sports program like Gillette’s across the board, from wrestling to track to cross country and beyond.

If the second schools in Casper and Cheyenne were any indicators, Camel sports — and ‘Bolt sports — should come out fine. Sooner than you’d think, too.

–patrick

Big things are happening at the sister site, wyoming-basketball.com. Season records for every program in the state are now available! If you see any missing info you can provide, I would love the help!

For example, the Green River girls records are pretty much done…. the Sheridan boys records are about halfway there…. and the Dubois boys records are pretty much empty. Every program is in some state of completion, some more than others, and any help you can give to fill in any of the blanks would be greatly appreciated.

Information can be emailed to pschmiedt@yahoo.com.

–patrick

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