Back in 1958, a city of champs
By Jim Troyer
Post-Bulletin, Austin MN
Championship seasons don’t just begin the year they occur. Years of training and determination often are the layers of effort the athletes build upon to finally reach the top.
For Austin, 1958 was a special year in athletics. It was a year of championships that left fans nearly delirious.
But it started a lot earlier than 1958. The story goes back at least, to 1950, 58 years ago now, when Bryan Baudler, Roger Voss and Orris Jirele were fifth-graders.
No doubt, there were others from the championship basketball teams of Austin and Pacelli High Schools who mastered the basics of basketball before they had to deal with long division.
Voss, who lives in La Crosse, Wis., now, recalled those "glory days" when Sumner Elementary School won the fifth-grade championship trophy in a field of five schools. Years later Voss and Baudler would become co-captains of Austin High School’s basketball team.
Jirele, as brilliant with a basketball as with a violin, also started in fifth grade. Later, as captain of the Pacelli Shamrocks, he led his team to his town’s first great victory of 1958, the All Catholic High School Conference Championship.
Three weeks after frantic fans paraded the victorious Pacelli team into town, the Packers came home with a conference victory of their own. The twin titles — two celebrations in three weeks — were almost more than the town could take.
And it wasn’t over. Austin would share the Big Nine football championship with Rochester, each with 8-1 records.
The Austin High baseball team was the 1958 State Consolation Winner and Co-Big Nine champion.
And in an era before organized women’s sports programs, the Austin girls swimming team won the State AAU title in competition at the Austin Municipal Pool.
Not to be left out in that year of championships, the Austin Moose Softball team won its league title.