Tradition of Excellence: War Vets Lead Football to 1946 MIAC Title

Posted on April 13th, 2020 by

In the absence of sports for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year, Gustavus sports information will provide a series of stories to take a look back at great moments in Golden Gustie athletics history, celebrating its proud tradition of excellence.

November 1946

War Veterans Lead Football to MIAC Championship

From the 1947 Gustavian Yearbook and “Gustavus Athletics” by Lloyd Hollingsworth

The 1946 undefeated and conference champion football team was predominately a GI squad with a few non-veterans. This was the most mature team in history, with an average age of 24 and the oldest at 29, just three years younger than the coach. There were some disappointments as former V-12 and GI regulars from the 1945 team were unable to win their positions in competition with the more mature and talented returning war veterans. Another coaching problem was an unusually large representation of squad members from each of two communities, Fairmont and St. Peter. The rivalry between these two groups called for some delicate manipulation.

Capturing the second State College Football Championship in as many years, the 1946 edition of the Gustavus ironclads, under the capable coaching of Lloyd Hollingsworth, lived up to every preseason prediction as they rolled to six conference victories and an undefeated season record.

The Gusties started the season against a strong Augustana eleven in a non-conference game, and the result was a tie, 6-6. The game was featured by excellent defense and strong line play.

In the next contest the Gusties rolled over Augsburg 32-7. The following Friday the ebony and gold out-mudded St. Thomas 25-6 on the rain-soaked Gustie gridiron. On October 12, St. John’s fell victim to a 34-14 shellacking at the St. Cloud field.

St. Mary’s stopped Bob Collison in a game billed as a “battle of lines,” but Babe Fiebiger broke loose for three touchdowns as the Redmen were downed 33-6. At the Gustavus Homecoming, October 26, Concordia put up a clever defense against the Gusties for a quarter, but dropped the tilt 26-6.

Hollingsworth and Company continued to down all opposition as St. Olaf suffered its first conference loss, 21-6, which clinched the title for the Gustie eleven.

In a game to decide the State Championship on Armistice Day, Mankato T.C. (Teacher’s College) bowed to the College Champs in the “Battle of the Year,” on a snow-covered field. The scored ended 14-7, but in total yards gained, the St. Peter crew outgained their rivals 251-81 yards from scrimmage.

For a non-platoon team, an unprecedented seven members were selected on the all-conference team: center Harold Swanson, guard Keith Skogman, tackles Jerry Cady and Capt. Vic Pedersen, and backs Bob Collison, Babe Fiebiger, and Beanie Landsjoen. Pedersen was also named Little All-American.

The ’46 team continues to be looked upon as one of Gustavus’s greatest. Returning GI veterans who were completing their requirements for a teaching certificate ably assisted the coaching without pay. They were Verl Westergard, Wayne Johnson, and Wayne Hagglund.

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Previous “Tradition of Excellence” stories:

1987 Men’s Basketball Wins MIAC Playoffs

1985 Gymnastics Wins Division III National Championship

2009 Men’s Hockey Advances to NCAA Title Game

2015 Volleyball Wins 27 Straight

1971 Men’s Tennis Marks Coach Wilkinson’s First MIAC Title

Harren Captures 2005 NCAA Cross Country Title

1927 Baseball Claims First MIAC Championship

Women’s Hoops Upsets Host, Advances to 2018 NCAA Sweet 16

2005 Men’s Soccer Reaches NCAA Title Match

2009 Softball Makes Run at College World Series

Men’s Golf Wins 2004 National Championship

Women’s Hockey Takes Third at 2017 NCAA Tourney


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