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STORM CENTER COLUMN: Those Quartzsiter Memories

STORM CENTER COLUMN: Those Quartzsiter Memories

JFROM – Jasper High School had a lot to celebrate 50 years ago and that legacy will soon be recognized in a grand way.

See, the Quartzsiters first competed in a state baseball tournament in 1974.

And many of the players will be reuniting on Saturday, July 20, for this year’s Quartzsiter Days Festival. Three former players — Tim Facile, Jim Hoyme and Lane Mousel — have organized the gathering.

Jasper High School’s 1974 state baseball tournament representative was escorted by five seniors. Pictured are (left to right): Jim Hoyme, Lane Mousel, Keith Kindt, Tim Facile and Mike Prunty. The entire team will reunite at the upcoming Quartzsiter Days Festival, with a float in the parade at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 20. (Contributed photo from the Jasper Area Historical Society)

The reunion will be completed with a social gathering in the old St. Joseph’s Catholic Church hall and a golf outing at Pipestone Country Club.

Additionally, the state tournament team will participate in a float in the Quartzsiter Days parade scheduled for 7 p.m. on July 20.

“We will be wearing commemorative hats and shirts,” said Facile, who played right field and pitched in spot duty.

Eric Viccaro, sports editor of the Pipestone County Star, recently spent an entire evening researching this column.

It became an archaeological dig — something Indiana Jones would be proud of. Articles appeared in the Star, the Jasper Journal, and the 1974 Jasper High School yearbook, affectionately known as The Quartz.

Jasper was coached by Lyle Gillen, who also worked as a social studies teacher for the school.

Gillen was quick to point out that qualifying for the state tournament meant more back then. That’s because there was only one classification, meaning only the top eight teams over 10,000 lakes played in St. Paul.

Jasper High School members smile after winning the 1974 Region 2 championship in Lakefield, defeating St. James 9-7. It was the Quartzsiters’ only regional championship and subsequent state tournament berth. This was when only the top eight teams in all of Minnesota qualified for the state tournament, making it all the more meaningful. (Contributed photo by Jim Welch from the Worthington Daily Globe archives)

The Quartzsiters were a talented team in 1974, led by left-handed pitcher Jerry Kuhlman and right-handed Steve Prunty.

Kuhlman earned Jasper a spot in the state tournament with a strong performance replacing Prunty as the Quartzsiters posted a 9-7 win over St. James in the Minnesota State High School League Region 2 championship.

“They (St. James) had the bases loaded and I was called in,” Kuhlman said. “I threw a high fastball (for a strikeout). It was awesome and we were all excited.”

Steve Prunty, who eventually excelled in multiple sports at Mankato State, went 3-for-4 with a double. Kuhlman also doubled as part of a 2-for-3 performance. The late Keith Kindt had a crucial sacrifice fly during the rally.

Tim Facile said the difficult path the Quartzsiters walked was the reason they reached the state tournament.

“We were the underdogs,” Facile said. “Nobody expected us to win, and that made it even better. We’d all played together as a team since we were eight years old.”

There were those who believed in the Quartzsiters that season, including former Pipestone County Star sports editor Mark Erickson.

“I think they will do everything they can to dump St. James,” Erickson wrote in the Star.

After the game, which took place on Friday afternoon, they were welcomed by the residents of Jasper in the middle of the evening with perhaps the biggest party in the town’s history.

“They sent a fire truck to welcome us,” Gillen said. “The front steps of the high school were covered with people. Ladies gave us bouquets of flowers. It was a big event.”

A poster board on one of the cars read: “Welcome home champions, we are proud of you.”

In 1974, John Ellefson was mayor of Jasper, principal of A.M. Nannestad, principal of T.J. Prunty, and dentist Dr. Barton Perizzo was chairman of one of the two school boards. People bought products from Huck’s. DJ’s Cafe and Jasper’s Bowling Alley were lively community centers. The regional title was so meaningful that the Jasper Journal ran the game report on its front page.

The 1974 Jasper High School baseball team and support staff gather for a photo at the school. The Quartzsiters finished 17-6 that season, beating Pipestone 2-0 and sweeping Edgerton in two games. This is the team, front row (left), Ann Facile, Brad Matthiesen, Tim Bartels, Tom Facile, Bob Mead, Rick Clercx, Gary Kindt and Kurt Jandl. Second row, Marilyn Rutten, Dave Mead, Steve Kneip, Glen Martinson, Mike Prunty, Tim Facile and head coach Lyle Gillen. Back row, Steve Prunty, Jerry Kuhlman, Jim Hoyme, Lane Mousel, Keith Kindt and Arden Petersen. (Contributed photo by the Jasper Area Historical Society)

Facile also recalls that Bruce Brothers, a sports reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune, called Region 2 the toughest in the state.

There were other obstacles to overcome, including victories over Mountain Lake and then Slayton in the District 8 championship.

Unfortunately for Jasper, the state tournament didn’t go as expected with a 14-0 loss in the opening round to Morris — followed by a 7-4 loss to Grand Rapids in the consolation pool. That Grand Rapids team consisted of 1980 United State’s Attorney Bill Baker. Yeah, do you believe in miracles?

Family was also at the heart of Jasper’s success, with a playing and supporting staff that included Faciles, Meads, Kindts and Pruntys.

Gillen, an athlete at General Beadle State College (now known as Dakota State University), came to Jasper in 1971. He also served as head coach of the wrestling program and helped with the football program.

First as assistant and later as head coach of the baseball team, Gillen turned the Quartzsiters into winners.

During the state tournament season, Jasper posted a solid 17-6 record, including a 2-0 win over Pipestone (Steve Prunty threw a no-hitter), two wins over Edgerton and a season record for runs against Magnolia (19).

Before reaching the regional round in Lakefield, Jasper defeated Slayton 6-1 in the District 8 championship.

Steve Prunty was the winning pitcher, hitting a double and being part of a key squeeze play to score Mike Prunty (who reached base on every at-bat). Hoyme’s RBI single in the seventh inning capped off this five-run conquest.

For Hoyme, being part of such a great team was an advantage that helped him succeed in life.

Today, Hoyme is a coach and consultant, teaching teamwork and leadership, and travels around the country, including last week in Arkansas.

“It taught me the importance of teamwork,” Hoyme said. “Everyone on the team was important. Everything came together. We trusted each other. We supported each other. We were held accountable and we knew what our roles were and what we had to do.”

Tim Facile used his Jasper experience as a springboard for various jobs in the military and computer science.

Jasper also had success in other sports that year.

— Mark Quisell qualified for the state wrestling tournament in the 98-pound division,

— Eugene Hunter was a noted middle-distance specialist (he ran 51.9 seconds in the 440-yard dash at state track and field).

— The boys basketball team went 15-4 with an average of 71.8 points per game.

– Twenty eight girls registered for athletics.

— Football also showed a positive result.

This is Jasper’s full team, in no particular order: team captain Mike Prunty, Jerry Kuhlman, Steve Kneip, Glen Martinson, Keith Kindt, Steve Prunty, Gary Kindt, Brad Matthiesen, Rick Clercx, Tim Bartels, Dave Mead, Tom Facile, Tim Facile, Bob Mead, Lane Mousel, Kurt Jandl, and Arden Petersen.

Managers Ann Facile and Marilyn Rutten received varsity letters and kept great scorebooks. Scott Jones and Matt Prunty, the latter inducted into the Pipestone-Jasper Hall of Fame in 2012, were the Quartzsiters’ bat boys.

Viccaro would like to thank the many people who helped compile this column: Brianna Conrad of the Jasper Area Historical Society, Susan Hoskins, director of the Pipestone County Museum, John Draper, publisher of the Star, and Lyle Fjellanger.

A variety of sporting events will take place during the 2024 Quartziter Days Festival in Jasper from Friday, July 19 through Sunday, July 21. (Contributed image)

Publisher’s Note: This column does not necessarily reflect the views of Pipestone Publishing Co., Inc. or the Pipestone County Star, and are solely those of the author.