The Wildcats brought home three District Championship plaques, a country title, and a
Regional trophy during the 90+ year run. The best seasons are listed below.
According to the 1994 Wapella HS yearbook, the Retro, the Wapella basketball program
had an excellent and storied history:
The school offered boys’ basketball as early as 1922-23, playing in 16
games and averaging 23 points a game that season. At that time, a tournament was held for DeWitt County schools in which Wapella
won four times between 1929-33, including a 27-24 victory over Waynesville in the 1933 title game.
In 1956-57, the Wildcats went thru the entire Kickapoo Conference circuit undefeated until losing to Danvers in the last game of the season on a long shot at the end of the game. Other schools in the Kickapoo were Armington, Beason, Downs, Deland-Weldon, Stanford, Ellsworth, Bellflower, and Heyworth.
the 1968-69 season, Wapella was second in the Kickapoo standings, but won the conference title the next season. The Wildcats
also won the Kickapoo and Lincolnland Conference titles in 1984-85, which was the last season for the Kickapoo. As a result,
the "Traveling Tomahawk Trophy" was permanently retired to the Wapella trophy case.
1927-28 DeWitt County
Tourney Runner-Ups coach unknown
1928-29 DeWitt County
Tourney Runner-Ups coach unknown
County Tourney Champs coach unknown
1939-40 15 - 10 District Champions
Coach Bob Rissor
1940-41 14 - 11 District Champions
1942-43 16 - 9 District Champions Coach Feldman
1950-51 15 - 10 (good record) Coach
1968-69 19 - 6 (good record)
Coach James Bryan
1969-70 21 - 7 Kickapoo Conf. Champs
Coach Jim Carrona
1970-71 19 - 8 (good record)
1975-76 19 - 9 Regional Champions
Coach Jerry Peroutka
1984-85 16 - 11 Lincolnland Con. Champs Coach
Note about the 1969-70 Team:
Allan Lord was the team's leading scorer and second leading scorer in the state
that year. The team was involved in one memorable game against Tri-Valley, a six overtime affair!!
Another one of the best players to grace the hardwood of Wapella is Marvin Morris.
His 50 points in a November 27, 1956 game against Heyworth is a school record.
Memories of the 1975-76 Squad
From Penny Clifton-Pennell:
"The boys on the Regional Champ team of 75-76 made up ALL the boys in the class of '76. My sister
was one of the five varsity cheerleaders. The boys of the team all shaved their heads in a show of spirit and unity. Coach
(as we called Coach Peroutka) was fabulous. Many long night were spent in the gym, packed from floor to top
bleacher, cheering on our guys."
Memories of the 1984-85 season:
- The 84-85 basketball
record was 16-11---some academic difficulties early in the season contributed to a slow start but an eight-game winning streak
ended in a 66-61 defeat in the Regionals to eventual Regional Champ Leroy as Leroy went 24-28 from the foul line in that game.
- The 84-85 basketball
team was the Kickapoo runner-up but recaptured the Kickapoo basketball traveling Tomahawk trophy in the final year of the
Kickapoo conference in the regional opener against DeLand-Weldon. The game was a squeaker (49-48) and the Wildcats pulled
it out on a last second shot by all –conference player Todd Davis. Coach Peroutka’s
quote from the Clinton Journal said about Davis, “Todd’s come through before
in tough situations and made some winning buckets. It’s nothing new for him. It’s a nice thrill every
time he does it.”
- 84-85 baseball record
was 15-2. That baseball team won the Kickapoo outright and were co-champs of the Lincolnland with San Jose.
The 1994 Retro
yearbook showed pictures of a baseball team at Wapella as early as 1961, boys’ track from 1962, and boys’ cross-country
in 1980. Golf was also offered in the 1980's. In 1971, Allan Lord qualified for the state track meet
in the 180-yard low hurdles, becoming the first WHS track athlete to make it to the state meet. The Wildcat baseball team
won both the Kickapoo and Lincolnland Conference titles in 1985 while having its best record (15-2).
On the girls’ side, GAA actitivies were offered for a number of years until track was started in the spring
of 1974, followed by basketball in 1975-76, volleyball in 1978, and softball was started during that same period. In fact,
the softball team won the Kickapoo Conference title for four consecutive years from 1979-82, along with the Lincolnland Conference
title in 1982.
Kelley Fryman was the first female athlete from
the school to compete at the state track meet, qualifying in the discus. Angie Olson starred for the Lady
Wildcat basketball team during the early ‘80’s, setting a single-game scoring record of 43 points in 1984.
In its’ final years, Wapella formed several co-ops with its neighbor to the north, Heyworth, in several
sports. The football program at Heyworth benefited from this agreement, especially in 1993 when the Hornets reached the state
class 1A playoffs, winding up with a 8-3 record.
What made this so unique was that in 1992, Heyworth had to forfeit the entire
season due to the lack of varsity players, but with the extra year of junior varsity play and the addition of several Wildcats,
it enabled them to reach the second round in 1993. Other co-op agreements between the two schools were in baseball, softball,
FAMILIAR FACULTY MEMBERS
school was also known for its involvement in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) from the organization’s beginning.
Even before then, Wapella students were offered agriculture classes as early as 1920, had a stock judging team that competed
in 1922 at the University of Illinois, and in 1923, formed a forerunner to the FFA called the Vo-Ag club. This organization
was formed to promote farming as a way of life.
Under faculty members such as Charlie
Schettler (33 years) and Vera Fulton (22 years), the school thrived as a place that trained the
citizens of tomorrow, while becoming a part of family and community life. Schettler’s FFA program had
a total of four American Farmer recipients, 40 State Farmers, 4 District Star winners, 65 Sectional Foundation Award winners,
11 District & three State Foundation Award recipients, not to mention that the Wapella chapter received 14 gold, 10 silver
and seven bronze awards at the state level, along with four bronze nationally. Schettler himself was named
the National Vo-Ag Teacher of the Year in 1973, which earned him a trip to Switzerland paid for by CIBA-GEIGY.
Fulton spent her 22 years at Wapella as an English and History teacher, not to mention being
a class sponsor and involved with the Retro and the school newspaper, the Retro Jr. Miss Fulton
moved to Saunemin in 1947 to be close to family and teach in that community before retiring and passing away there.
Another faculty member worthy of mention is Maurietta Cusey, who sponsored the Future Homemakers
of America (FHA) chapter at the school for 19 years. She not only taught Home Economics, but sewing, tailoring, and cooking
as well. Under her leadership, Wapella was represented by 15 winners of the state Homemaker Award in a 10-year period.
The FFA had one of its own go on to become
an Undersecretary of Agriculture during the mid-70s. Richard (Dick) Bell graduated from Wapella in the early
‘50’s, having served a FFA Section president and District Director of State in 1952. Bell credited
Charlie Schettler as an “inspiration” and being a “great teacher with great values.”
Bell was Undersecretary of Agriculture from 1973-77 during the Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford administrations.
A pair of brothers, Joseph and John Bernard Powers, also made
their mark in the world. Joseph is a 1979 grad of WHS that received his bachelors', masters' and doctorate degrees from
the University of Illinois. He is now a member of the faculty at the University of Notre Dame. Bernard was one of the founders
of Fieldlink, which is now known as PayPal.
The Illinois Theatre Festival is the largest, non-competetive high school theatre festival in the
world. It was organized in 1976 by teachers from the Chicago suburbs. This festival is still going strong as they perform
at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) and Illinois State University every other January. Wapella High School participated
in this festival from 1986 to 1988.
From Penny Clifton-Pennell:
the first female Wapella athlete to compete at state, had a twin sister, Kim. I was on track with both of
them. Angie Olsen went on to teach PE at Clinton High School, where all Wapella students go since Wapella
"You could stand at the end of the "old"
part of the high school and see all the way to the end of the "new" part. We didn't do bad for a "small" school - we even
had tennis courts!
"No other school can come close to what
Wapella Jr/Sr High gave us - small and close knit, there were truly some of us who did NOT want graduation day to come. We
were just like the school in the Tom Cruise film "All The Right Moves," minus the football team (we were too small)!"