The Granite City wrestling team won conference and regional championships in William “Red” Schmitt’s final season as coach in 1985. (Front row) Tracey Morris, Gary Mann, Brett Carner, Rich Wilson, Jeff Cotter, Mark Whitaker, Vince Selecka, Jeff Wakeford and Darrin Singelton; (back row) head coach William “Red” Schmitt, assistant coach Walt Whitaker, Paul Brant, Tracey McElroy, Darrin Clutts, Darin Griffin, Mike Fenoglio, Tom Sparks and Mike Lewis.
In 1985, the Granite City Warriors said goodbye to a legendary coach.
After 35 years, William “Red” Schmitt retired as Granite City wrestling coach. The Warriors were successful during Schmitt’s tenure, winning 25 regional championships, 26 sectional titles and a state crown in 1965. Schmitt earned the National High School Coach of the Year award in 1977.
Granite City gave Schmitt a nice sendoff in 1985, going 24-4 and winning conference and regional championships.
Also in 1985 — the year Ronald Reagan was serving his second term as president — the boys’ basketball team captured conference and regional titles, the hockey team came within a whisker of winning the Mid-States championship, four Granite City athletes earned all-state honors and the Warriors said hello to a new sport — girls’ soccer.
Granite City returned to the Southwestern Conference in the 1984-’85 season after competing in the Gateway East Conference for 10 years. Gilbert Walmsley was GCHS’s principal and Greg Patton was the athletic director.
Schmitt’s legendary coaching career at Granite City ended at the state wrestling tournament in Champaign, where senior Jeff Cotter placed sixth in the 98-pound division.
Cotter lost to Paul Decato of St. Viator High 6-4 in overtime of the fifth-place match, becoming the first Granite City wrestler in 11 years to earn all-state honors at 98 pounds. He finished with 101 wins in his career.
Steve Knogl (167) and Richie Wilson (105) were the other Granite City representatives at state.
The Warriors won their first SWC title in 10 years by winning the league tournament in Collinsville. A week later, Granite City returned to Collinsville to win the regional tournament. The Warriors lost to Springfield Southeast in the dual team sectional finals.
Schmitt became the Warriors’ sixth wrestling coach in 1950. He won 589 matches at Granite City and 605 in his career, which also included a stint at Western Military Academy in Alton. The Granite City Holiday Wrestling Tournament, which is scheduled at the end of December every year, is named after him.
After beating Collinsville 49-45 in the Class AA Edwardsville Regional title game, the Warriors’ boys’ basketball team won its first regional title since 1971.
Granite City finished 18-9 after losing to Alton 67-57 in the Class AA Collinsville Sectional semifinals. Two weeks before, the Warriors knocked off Alton 69-60 in their regular season finale at Memorial Gymnasium to finish with a share of the conference title with Collinsville. It was Granite City’s first league crown since 1972.
“It was the best freaking time ever,” said Scott Cant, one of the seniors on the squad.
Jeff Gray, another senior, scored a season-high 33 points and made half of his shots (12-of-24) in the last regular season game against Alton.
Don Stevanus, Kurt Hylla and Jerry Paul were among the other seniors of the boys’ basketball team, which was coached by Don Deterding.
Cant, who was in attendance at the GCHS Class of 1985 Reunion at Jacobsmeyers Bar and Grill on July 31, said a pep talk from Deterding in a mid-season game against Wood River fired his team up.
“He said you guys can play better than that,” Cant said. “He literally lit up and he almost had a heart attack and said if you guys don’t want to play to your potential, I don’t want to coach you. We went on a winning streak after that. I give him a lot of credit because he knocked it into us and we were winners, so that was really good.”
The girls’ basketball team finished 3-19 under coach Gordon Galbreath, who retired after the season. Debbie Brandt and Alicia Melton earned all-conference honors.
The Warriors’ Mid-States hockey team turned in one of its best seasons in program history, going 24-5 and winning its second straight North Division championship with a 19-3 mark.
Granite City lost to DeSmet 10-5 in the Mid-States championship game at the old St. Louis Arena. It was the second year in a row the Warriors reached the final four of the Mid-States playoff tournament and the first time they played in the title game.
Chris Carden, Dave Yurkovich, Dave Wilmouth, Dave Young, Terry Wade, Steve Stegelmeyer and Jerry Lakin were the seniors. Garry Henson was the head coach.
The Warriors captured their fourth Southwestern Conference championship in program history in 1985, but lost to Alton Marquette 1-0 in the regional championship match. Granite City had its three-year consecutive streak of regional championships snapped.
Scott Biason and goalkeeper Terry Dutko earned all-state honors for the Warriors, who finished 16-3-4.
A pair of Granite City senior track athletes earned all-state honors for the second year in a row.
Eric Graves finished second in the high jump in 6 feet, 11 inches in the boys’ meet and Debbie Brandt placed fourth in the discus with a toss of 130-9 in the girls’ division.
Graves, who placed sixth in the high jump in the 1984 state meet, lost in a tiebreaker to Downers Grove North’s Lanny Dillavou, preventing him from becoming the first Granite City athlete in 12 years to win a state title. He won the conference title in the high jump and qualified for state in the high and long jump by winning both events at the district meet at Belleville East.
Brandt finished fourth in the discus at state for the second year in a row. She became the first of four Granite City athletes to place at state in the girls’ division. Her younger sister, Stephanie, placed at state in the discus four times from 1994-97.
For the third year in a row, Lora Wiser earned all-state honors as she finished 16th with a time of 12 minutes, 1.8 seconds in the 2.1-mile course at the state meet in Peoria.
Wiser, then a senior, also helped the Warriors’ girls’ cross country team turn in a successful 1985 season. The Warriors won Madison County and Southwestern Conference championships, placed second in regionals and qualified for state for the third year in a row by finishing second in sectionals at Springfield.
Wiser is the only Granite City athlete to place at the state girls’ cross country meet. She placed 13th as a junior and 16th as a sophomore.
The Warriors fielded their first girls’ soccer team in 1985 and the squad turned in a banner season, finishing with an 8-3 record.
Granite City became the second school in the Metro East to have a girls’ soccer team. Collinsville’s girls’ soccer program began the year before. The two squads split their two matches in 1985.
The Warriors beat Pattonville 2-0 in their first match. They played mostly Missouri schools and played only one Illinois school, which was Collinsville.
Mike Velloff was the Warriors’ first coach. Kathy Thornsberry, Dawn Schwartz and Maria Parra were the captains.
The Warriors ended their 1985 season on a high note, beating Cahokia, Alton and Belleville East in their final three games to finish with a 4-4 mark.
Granite City, which was coached by Ron Yates, ended its season with a 7-0 win over Belleville East. Tim Hogan scored a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to help the Warriors pull off the win.
Ryan Weeks was 16 of 17 in extra point attempts and kicked field goals from 46 and 47 yards out.
The Granite City boys’ and girls’ tennis squads each had a state qualifier in 1985.
Rob Lombardi clinched a state berth by placing third in singles competition at sectionals. Marcia Williams qualified for the girls’ tennis state tournament by placing fourth in singles at sectionals.
Linda Ames, the current Granite City girls’ tennis coach, was a senior on the 1985 girls’ tennis squad, which finished 7-7. The boys’ tennis team, which won a sectional title in 1984, was 7-6.
Baseball and Softball
The baseball team finished 20-15 after losing to Southwestern Conference champion East St. Louis 3-2 in the regional semifinals at Collinsville. The Warriors were two outs away from going to the regional championship game before the Flyers scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to pick up the win.
The softball team finished 9-17 after losing to Civic Memorial 3-0 in the Class AA Edwardsville Regional championship game. To date, that was the last time the Warriors played in a regional title game.
The Warriors finished 10-16 after losing to Edwardsville in two games in the Class AA Edwardsville Regional championship match. Wilma Schulze was the head coach and Beth Werths, Alicia Melton, Betsy Barrington and Bridget Watson were the seniors.
Mike Sturman was the Warriors’ lone sectional qualifier after placing 10th in regional competition at Mascoutah. The Warriors finished 19-7 during the regular season.