Dominance, accomplishment, and championship - the Hall of Fame-bound 1968-69 St. James wrestling team had all of that in spades. On September 22, they will be immortalized in the annals of St. James history.
The wrestling tradition in the city of St. James is as thick as a sheet of foot-high snow on the streets of 1st Avenue in February.
Debates can be made about which team, which grappler, or which moment in St. James wrestling history is the greatest.
Often, oral history helps paint how good a particular wrestler or team was. However, one team has 'video game-like' statistics to bolster their claim as one of the greatest wrestling groups in St. James history.
Fifty years ago, the 1968-69 St. James Wrestling team, coached by Paul Krueger, were a force to reckoned with - ranking as high as third in the state.
A wrestling team that went through a dual-meet schedule, conference, district, region, and state tournament competitions with only have two pins against their ledger.
That is an unheard of level of dominance.
The 1968-69 wrestling team in a 260-match docket went 194-58-1, lobbying 51 pins against just two pins in individual matchups.
Howie Swanson 18-2-2
Dean Hultgren 21-3
Rick Enger 20-3
Dave Augustin 19-3-1
Jim Spitzner 21-4
Jim Augustin 13-3-1
Chuck Sturm 14-4
Scott Sizer 14-6-1
Paul Holte 13-6
Dick Hackett 13-6
Doug Augustin 10-5-1
Jim Johnson 9-5-1
Wayne Enger 6-3
Rich Spitzner 1-0
Bob Peterson 2-2
Bill Augustin 0-1
Dean Siem 0-1
Jake Hodgkinson 0-1
The team's win-loss record smashed the previous team's win mark by 63 wins and was unparalleled in terms of winning percentage and pin percentage for the next few decades.
A trio of State-bound co-captains powered the team: State Champion at 145 Rick Enger, Jim Spitzner at 127 and Dean Hultgren at 154.
Regarding championships, the '68-'69 team racked up gold at every competition level.
They had nine invitational champions, five conference champions (Augustin, Spitzner, Swanson, Hultgren, and Enger), five district champions (D. Augustin, Spitzner, Swanson, Sizer, and Enger), a regional champion (Spitzner) and a state champion (Enger).
Jim Spitzner, a two-year captain senior, would depart the school as the school's record holder in wins (80) and winning percentage (.775).
As a team, St. James won a conference dual-meet title, the conference titles, their own invitational championship, placing third in the district and a runner-up finishes in district and state tournaments.
According to a March 1969 article in the Plaindealer, coach Krueger called the team, "the most decorated team," he had coached.
When the '68-'69 wrestling team is inducted to the St. James Athletic Hall of Fame on September 22, 2018 - debates may still arise on who from that team was the best grappler, or had the best individual match or performance.
But, together, as a unit, no one will be able to deny their dominance and their place in St. James wrestling history.