SIOUX CIY – Between the 1940s and 1980s there were precious few Siouxlanders earning starting roles on the University of Iowa men’s basketball team.
Mapleton’s Todd Berkenpas was a starter in 1984-85, but going back 40 or so seasons from there the list was very small, elite you could say.
To refresh your memory there was Franklin Calsbeek (Hull), Dave Gunther (Le Mars), Peer Heeg (Rock Valley), Frank Mundt (Ida Grove), Dennis Runge (Calumet), Denny Pauling (Paullina) and Neil Fegebank (Paullina).
The most intriguing name on the list, at least recently, is Frank Mundt.
A third-team all-state prep center in 1956, the 6-foot-8 Mundt, was a sophomore starter for the Hawkeyes in 1957-58 along with Gunther, Nolden Gentry, Bobby Washington and Clarence Wardlaw on a 13-9 team.
Mundt, who recently underwent heart surgery while living in California, was a top reserve as a junior, but because of injuries and the emergence of All-American to be Don Nelson, played little as a senior.
A Mundt is back in the news these days.
Frank’s grandson, Bobby, is rookie tight end with the Los Angeles Rams after playing collegiately at the University of Oregon.
Bobby Mundt’s father played at Fresno State and his cousin, another of Frank’s grandsons, Jake Nelson, is a touted 6-4, 295-pound offensive lineman at the University of Nevada, which is coach by former Iowa gridder Jay Norvell.
For a bit of irony, try this.
Frank’s wife, the former Sylvia Froning, is an Iowa girls basketball Hall of Famer. The two met at Iowa.
In the 1956 Iowa Girls State Tournament, Froning’s Garrison team defeated Ida Grove in a first-round tourney contest. Garrison wound up losing to Maynard in the state title game, but came back the next year with Froning to defeat Maynard in a title-game rematch.
One of Froning’s best friends and teammate in high school was Delores Selk Ridenour, a resident of Dakota Dunes when the 1957 Garrison team was honored by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union on its 50th championship reunion in 2007.
Selk Ridenour was a third-team all-state guard in ’57 when Garrison claimed the crown.
- All politics and athletics is local, right?
The political season has been underway for several weeks now and as we approach election day it might be a stretch to connect a couple dots.
West Branch is well-known for being the hometown of former President Herbert Hoover, Iowa City Regina High School Coach Marv Cook (ex-Iowa and NFL, too) and Butch Pedersen, one of the rare Iowa prep coaches to win 300 games (there are just 13).
West Branch is also famous for the “Little Rose Bowl.’’
The quaint setting in the eastern Iowa community near Iowa City is where the local high school football team plays its games.
The field was gouged into a hill in 1921 to form a natural bowl and has since been declared one of the 10 most unique high school football stadiums in the country, upstaging facilities like a $45 million stadium in Texas.
For one, Sioux City financial analyst Mike Nash played in the “Little Rose Bowl’’ as a West Branch prep, then later at Dubuque University.
“The field has quite a reputation, but when I was in high school in probably wasn’t quite as well known as it is now,’’ says Nash. “It was just the field where we played.
“Ironically, the school built a new football stadium at the high school not far from Interstate 80, but they don’t play their varsity games there, that’s how strong the tradition is.’’
West Branch fans trek to the natural bowl early on Fridays and parking spots for cars that ring the top of the bowl to watch are at a premium.
Going into a Friday game, West Branch is ranked No. 1 in Class 1A and Pedersen owns a 300-74 record in 36 seasons in the community of 2,322.
There have been 25 playoff seasons in 35 years and three state titles.
The all-time Iowa coaching win leader is Homer, Nebraska, legend Dick Tighe with 432 at multiple schools, the majority at Webster City.
- You might have missed the item in Lynn Zerchling’s Sunday “From the Archives’’ column a week ago.
It really wasn’t about sports 50 years ago, but members of the sunshine pop band (rock and roll at the time) Chicago’s fabulous Buckinghams were charged with possession of narcotics in an Okoboji motel the day before they were to perform at the legendary Roof Garden Ballroom.
The incident, shall we say, was “Kind of a Drag.’’
- Memo from the Rutgers football coach.
“Coach Beaty, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.’’
Saturday, Chris Ash, the native of Ottumwa, Iowa, watched helplessly as his Rutgers team got pummeled by Coach David Beaty’s normally feckless Kansas Jayhawks, 55-14.
- Here we are four, almost five games, into the prep football season, and three or four into the college and pro seasons.
And, ifs, ands and buts aside, as the old coach is famous for saying, “You are, what your record says you are.’’