Platte County High School discovers forgotten state champion

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Platte County High School officials hung a banner last week in the main gymnasium, honoring the 1961 Class C indoor track and field state championship team. After a short verification process, the group now holds the distinction as the first team state champion in the school’s history. Platte County hung the 14th athletic state championship banner in school history last week. This one honors the first the school ever won, more than five decades ago.

A little bit of recent research verified that Platte County won the Class C Missouri State Indoor Track and Field Championship in 1961. Because the Missouri State High School Activities Association stopped sponsoring the sport in 1972, records were not well kept.

At the urging of graduate David Reineke, Platte County activities director Phil Dorman asked MSHSAA for verification of the championship, which the organization supplied. He then ordered the banner to mark the feat that occurred in March 1961 at Brewer Fieldhouse on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia, Mo.

The new banner hangs in the northwest corner of the Platte County High School gymnasium.

Previously, the 2000 wrestling team was believed to be the first team state champion in Platte County history. The wrestling team has won seven state titles total (2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010) in addition to three in football (2000, 2001 and 2002), one in girls basketball (2009), one in softball (2008) and one in baseball (2002).

However, the 1961 indoor track team, coached by Pirate Hall of Famer Dick Foster, now officially holds the distinction of being first.

Platte City accrued 18¼ points to beat Greenwood by 2¼ for the overall crown in Class C completion (schools under 200 enrollment). Richard Boydston led the way by winning the shot put at 46 feet, 6¼ inches. Arvid Johnson won three individual medals (second in the 65-yard low hurdles, third in the 60-yard high hurdles and fourth in the broad jump), while Wilson Tatman placed fifth in the high jump.

The 880-yard relay team of Johnson, Doug Pearl, Pete Buckler and Reineke placed fourth, as did the mile relay team. Members of the mile relay team have not yet been verified.

Later in the spring of 1961, Platte City finished third in the Missouri State Outdoor Track and Field Championships, scoring 13½ points to finish a half point back of Faucett and Greenwood. Faucett had been third at indoor state.

The 880-yard relay, members not verified but presumably the same group from the indoor team, again took second, and the mile relay team equaled its fourth place showing. Johnson came in the third in the 180-yard low hurdles and fourth in the 120-yard high hurdles. Tatman tied for fourth, while Boydston dropped to fifth in the shot put.