Bulldogs celebrate 70th anniversary of state baseball titles

Members of the 1948 Monona High School state spring baseball champions included, front row (left to right): Bill Kettelkamp, Ron Moon, Don Huinker, Ken Kuester, Bill Hackstadt, Don Kettelkamp and Ron Blumhagen. Back row (l-r): Wally Mohrman, Dan Schweikert, Virgil Thompson, Joe Lambert, Ed Hazlett, Don Hubacher, Tom Wilke and Coach George “Pete” Pederson. 

MONONA — Ken Kuester, Wallis Mohrman, Don Huinker and Don Hubacher are names that most Monona residents might not be familiar with today. But 70 years ago they were local heroes. The four, along with their teammates led Monona to the second of its three state baseball championships 70 years ago this week.

“We wanted to win,” said 88-year-old Tom Wilke, one of five surviving members of the team, remains in Monona.

Wilke described the team as a special group. It had dominated the spring baseball season, pitching four no-hitters and eight shutouts while finishing 13-0 and outscoring three state tournament opponents 25-6. Things were tougher in the spring. The Bulldogs needed 10 innings to edge Elkader 1-0 in its season opener and needed a six-run ninth inning to rally past Marquette 10-5 in the county tournament. 

According the reports from the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Monona edged Meridan 2-0 in the first round of the state tournament and doubled up Radcliffe 4-2 in the semifinals behind five innings of no-hit ball by star hurler Ken Kuester to set up a rematch with Davenport, which topped the Bulldogs in the 1947 state final. 

“At that time there were no classes — Davenport was one of the largest schools in the state and Monona was one of the smallest,” Wilke said. “I think that’s really an important thing because today Monona would never get to play against that kind of competition.”

Read more in the Wednesday, May 23, 2018 edition of The Outlook.