Batavia Wrestling Has Lots to Be Proud about as It Turns 50
Brueske, Craig, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Craig Brueske Daily Herald Correspondent
Things were quite different 50 years ago.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was our president. Nikita Khrushchev had just become Premier of the Soviet Union.
The top grossing film was "The Bridge on the River Kwai," the top-rated TV show was "Gunsmoke," the No. 1 hit single was "Volare," and the first Major League Baseball regular season game ever played in California took place between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.
And the sport of wrestling got its start at Batavia High School.
"It was like the blind leading the blind to start with," joked Jerry Linton, the Bulldogs' first wrestling coach for their inaugural 1957-58 campaign. "There were hardly any schools around that had it (wrestling) -just a few like West Aurora and Naperville. It was real new.
"But it grew from there. We had a couple more tournaments our second year, and in my third year (1959-60) we joined the Little Seven Conference. Each year, it got a little bigger."
Linton, who coached the Bulldogs from 1958-64, turned 81 Monday and still lives in Batavia.
He's one of the guests expected to participate in the 50th Anniversary of Batavia Wrestling celebration scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 5, 2008, at the high school.
Thanks in part to the diligent efforts of Neil Rudd, Terry McCarter and current Batavia mat coach Tom Arlis, to name a few, a 50th anniversary advisory committee was named to organize the celebration honoring former Bulldog wrestlers, coaches, their families and supporters of the program.
"I was at the library six months ago looking at the history of the program," said Rudd, whose son Andrew competes at 152 pounds for this year's squad. "It was just after the 100th celebration for Batavia basketball.
"I realized it was the 50th anniversary of the wrestling program and asked Tom (Arlis) if he'd be interested in having a ceremony of some kind. He was very much in favor of it."
And the idea became a plan set into motion.
"Neil went to the library and did the research," said Arlis, who has coached two sons since taking the top job at Batavia in 2004 - Clint, the school's all-time winningest wrestler (147) now competing at the University of Illinois, and Logan, who currently competes at 112 pounds.
While Rudd has done some digging along the way, the process has been a rewarding one.
"I discovered through an old copy of the school newspaper (The Spectator) that Denny Piron, the father of (current Batavia track/football assistant coach) Dennis, won the first match ever wrestled by a Batavia wrestler (at 95 pounds)," said Rudd. …