Hometown Teams, Stories from the Sun archives: Cornell wrestling team wins two national championships
April 17, 2017
The Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun is starting a new, year-long feature: Home Town Teams: Stories from the Sun archives.
The Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group and Main Street Iowa are bringing the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street exhibit, Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America, to the community in the spring of 2018.
In anticipation of the exhibit being here, we'll return to the many sports stories published in the past 150 years in the pages of the Sun and its predecessors, the Herald and Hawkeye-Record.
We start with one of the most famous - Cornell College's 1947 wrestling team, which won the NCAA and AAU national championships 70 years ago. This was in an age before schools were divided by size.
Below is the text as it appeared on the front page of the Mount Vernon Hawkeye-Record and The Lisbon Herald, April 3, 1947.
Cornell Wins Gold Trophy At National Meet, Take First In N.C.A.A. Tourney
Mount Vernon found that the best mouse trap had beaten a path to its door this week. Paul Scott's history-defying wrestlers brought home a huge gold trophy from the national meet at Champaign symbolic of the championship of collegiate grappling.
Cornell's mat champions accomplished their task in such a decisive manner as to leave little doubt that they rank with the greatest mat teams of all-time.
No team save the mighty Oklahoma Aggies had been officially recognized as the N.C.A.A. champion in 16 previous tournaments. Little Cornell put an end to the Aggie reign of invincibility by:
(1) Rolling up 32 points, the most any team has ever accumulated.
(2) Scoring 10 pins, another unheard of feat. Each pin counted one point in final team standings.
(3) Taking two championships - Dick Hauser at 121 and Lowell Lange at 136.
(4) Earning one second place, by Rodger Snook at 145, and three thirds, Leo Thomson at 128, Fred Dexter at 165 and Dale Thomas, 175. This also marked a new high in all-round team strength.
The aggressiveness of the Cornell team was the talk of every coach at the tournament. Many of them came around to the Purple dressing room to make queries on the Hilltop styles and express gratification at their pinning success.
Most prized comment came from Art Griffith, coach of the famed Oklahoma Aggies who retired from their title role. Said Griffith, "I've coached and watched many of the best teams, but this Cornell bunch sure bests them all."
Students rallied Sunday to decorate the gym with placards, and paint downtown stores with huge white letters of welcome. Cars formed a line in Lisbon to escort the first contingent of wrestlers into Mount Vernon.
An impromptu meeting was arranged on the gym steps with words of congratulations from President Russell D. Cole and Dean Jay B. MacGregor. Cheers were given as each member of the team stepped from the cars.
Formal presentation of the trophy was made in a recognition chapel Monday morning. Short talks were given by President Cole, Dean MacGregor, Ivan Blackmer, president of the Chamber of Commerce, and Gordon Meredith, team manager. Dale Thomas, Marion senior, made the presentation of the trophy to the school with faculty athletic representative Mark Hutchinson offering words of acceptance.
Coach Scott introduced his eight grapplers who battled at Champaign and expressed appreciation for the fine support which students, faculty and townspeople have shown during the year.
Scotty was given praise by each speaker and roars of applause, seldom equalled on the Hill, went up for him and the Purple stalwarts. The drive to send the team to the national A.A.U. meet to be held in San Francisco April 11-12 is progressing very nicely. Scotty indicated that he will take as many men as possible to the event, including the eight who brought back the collegiate crown. In the latter group - in addition to the place winners - were Kent Lange, 155-pounder, who lost to the third-place winner and heavyweight Al Partin who bowed to the runnerup in the N.C.A.A.
Wednesday night the amount raised was a little under $1,500, which, with $500 from the College, will make close to the $2,000 goal. The team leaves Saturday on the Overland.
Cornell's archrival, Iowa Teachers, also passed the Oklahoma A & M entry this year. Teachers was again second in the meet with 19 points while the Aggies slid to third with 15. Other team scores: Michigan State 11. Oklahoma U. 10, Illinois 9, Iowa 6, Iowa State 5, Purdue 5, Michigan 4, Minnesota 4, Navy 3, Colorado State 1.
There were 112 men in the tourney representing 31 schools. It is significant that the champions were smallest from point of enrollment.