Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Trojan History Intersects with Family

I always thought I married into a wrestling family.  

And I did. Randy was a high school wrestler. In his senior year at Stafford High School, he placed first in the Class 2A/1A tournament at Douglas to qualify for the state championships in Colby. 

 He competed in the 167-pound weight division in the 1974 state championships.

So when I wrote about the Stafford High School basketball team last week, I didn't realize there was a "rest of the story" in our family. Randy's dad, Melvin, was on the 1947 team that went to state. I wish he were still around so we could ask him about it.

Photo from the Stafford County Historical Museum

The 1947 basketball team included Randy's dad, Melvin Fritzemeier, No. 81. Others on the team were front row (l to r): Richard Doering, Doug Minnis, Kelvin Sell, Melvin, Gayle Sanford. Second row: Charles Beckett, Ted Ashford, Pete Wedelin, Lawrence Bell, Benny Hargett and Coach Johnston. 

From The Courier: The Stafford Trojans won first place in the Kingman Regional tournament, Saturday, March 8, 1947, by defeating the Kingman Eagles, 33-23 in the final round of play. The Trojans fought for and won the right to attend the state tournament in Topeka starting Wednesday, March 12. Stafford also had defeated Caldwell in the semifinals, 55-34. Stafford meets Beloit in the first round of the state tournament. The state tournament is made up of 13 teams, winners of regional tournaments, plus three invited teams, making a total of 16 class A teams who will compete for the state championship. 

The Stafford basketball team lost their game Wednesday night by 5 points. The Stafford hoopsters met Beloit, which was the only undefeated team. Stafford led until the final four minutes of the game. ... Coach Johnston in a telephone conversation with superintendent Wedelin said, "They just couldn't hold their lead as they were completely fagged out by too much flu."

Melvin was a junior that year. 

Photo (of a photo) by Julie McNickle

Our friend, Julie, took this photo of another SHS team during a recent funeral. We're not sure, but it was likely the 1948 basketball team, Melvin's senior year. He is fifth from the left. 

We also learned that Randy's Grandpa, Clarence Fritzemeier, was on the very first Stafford basketball team that went to the state tournament. On March 16, 1922, the high school basketball team went to Manhattan, where they took part in the state tournament and lost third place by one point. Final score was 17 to 16. It must have been quite the defensive battle.

The boys playing on the team included Randy's grandpa, Clarence Fritzemeier, along with teammates Lawrence Simpson, Emery Hickman, Marvin Gere, Firman Gere, Murl Blackburn and John Cox. Coach was Clifford Gallagher.

From Stafford County Historical Museum

The Stafford County Historical Society posted a photo of some of the 1922 players, but Clarence wasn't among them. Still, it was interesting to see the uniforms of that era. 

We did know Melvin was a runner. When Jill was in high school, her 4 X 100 M relay went to state two different years. 

SHS athletes at state track: Charles Keifer, Kelly Sell, Kenneth Reed (hurdles) Coach Slaten, Doug Minnis, Darrell Sanford (pole vault) and Melvin Fritzemeier Keifer, Sell, Minnis & Fritzemeier were on the 1-mile relay team.

I included Grandpa Melvin's 1-mile relay team along with photos from her team for a collage I made for her after the girls' fourth-place finish at state.

Photo by Nick Minks of community support on Stafford Main Street as the bus departed for the tourney.

Our 2023 SHS team played valiantly but came up short in the first round of the tournament last Thursday vs. South Central, who went on to finish 3rd in the state tournament. But spectators wearing our red matching state basketball shirts filled much of the coliseum for the game. It was loud! And we are proud of our Trojans ... past and present!

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