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1967, the first time they played

While the men’s series has been well documented since the original varsity contest on the night of December 18, 1973, records of an earlier meeting were discovered in a search of the Briar Cliff archives. It describes the “inaugural” meeting between the BCU and MC men’s programs, a game that occurred nearly six years earlier than the official contest. The fledging BCU men’s program needed as much court time as possible, considering they were mostly freshmen with just a sprinkling of transfers. Add to that, they played as an independent: scheduling could be a nightmare.

Morningside would play just freshmen in the game, therefore, it never shows in that college’s record books. But it was a historic evening nonetheless. Dave Holub, who scored 14 for the Chiefs that night, remembers “as freshmen, we were ineligible to play for the varsity. We played our games before the varsity and no one ever came to watch us. This night, though, we go on court to warm up, and we said, ‘Hey, we have a crowd today.’ Now, it’s not a packed Allee, but its noticeably more than we usually saw for our games. I remember watching as about a half dozen nuns made their way up the stands. We knew this was the first-ever matchup with Briar Cliff; there was something in the air that night.”

The Chargers had traveled across town to Allee that evening with several players who would ring up time in the record books. Besides Ron Schultz, who would score 1,353 points in his career, there was 1,307-point scorer Jim Hinrich, the first Charger to score 40 points in a game, and Ray Wingert, a transfer from Wayne State, who had over 500 points and 500 rebounds in his two-year career. Though they would become the first wave of Charger greats, they were still in their team’s infancy. Morningside responded with Mike White, Dave Holub, Lance Larson, and Chuck George, who piled up a game-leading 32 points in the 87-80 Chief victory. George, who left Morningside and served in Vietnam, came back to join the Chargers program for one year in 1974–75 but did not play in the second varsity contest between the two schools. As one of his former teammates said, “Chuck came back a different man after Vietnam.” It was a different era then. As Dave Holub recalls, “We always seemed to end the regular season with a game against Iowa State Teachers College, now UNI [University of Northern Iowa]. We were driving back from Cedar Falls listening to the radio for the draft numbers; not the NBA draft, the Vietnam draft numbers. Of course, Lance Larson was 365, but I had 48, and I think Mike White had a similar number.”

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Rolando Frazer

Probably no single player’s name is associated more with Briar Cliff men’s basketball than Rolando’s. Immediately, everyone in the Siouxland area knows you are talking about Rolando Frazer (1977–81), the first three-time All-American at BCU. Described by various teammates and foes alike as slender, quick, a leaper, super-quick, dynamic, he came to Sioux City and led the Chargers to a 101-17 mark in his four seasons. As teammate Mark Grace stated, “When Rolando came off the bench, instead of starting his freshman year, opponents were shocked by his talent and would ask us why he wasn’t starting.” Even though he was surrounded by great players during his career (Eddie Warren, Grace, Mario Butler, Tito Malcolm, Reggie Grenald, etc.), Rolando was always the focal point of Briar Cliff’s offense and their opponents’ game plans.

I talked with Frazer by phone in February 2018. His home is in Puerto Rico, and after Hurricane Maria swept through the island in September of 2017, it took until December for his house to receive power again. However, he had nothing but happy thoughts when we talked about his time at Briar Cliff. “My experience was really good; Ray and his family treated me nice. I got to play ball all over the country. I have good memories of Briar Cliff.” He also has a warm spot for the man who connected us, Patrick Noonan, Rolando’s roommate for all four years. “Pete and his whole family treated me like I was part of their family. He is the godfather to one of my daughters.” The three daughters are a tremendous source of pride to Frazer. “All three have their masters’ degrees, and one will make me a grandfather soon.” Rolando Frazer, a grandfather? To those of us lucky enough to have seen him in his prime, it’s a difficult thing to imagine. But then, he’s not necessarily out of his prime yet. “I will be 60 this year [2018], and I and Tito [Malcolm] are going to Queens, New York, for a Masters [basketball] tournament. Tito is 62 now.”

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Kate Lokken; new Hall of Famer

Kate is going into Morningside’s M Club Hall of Fame this week. While Jason Siemon and Mark Mohl, (both going into the HOF with Kate), have entries in River City Rivals also, it is this quote from Coach Jamie Sale about Kate and his early Mustang teams that reflects the special relationship between player and coach, especially when they’re thrown together due to a coaching change.

“Kate Lokken, by my second year at Morningside, was the only holdover left. We had Kate and then a couple of sophomores and then all freshman, so we were a really young team. Kate was an awesome player; that one kid that kind of toughed it out, got through it.

We knew that we really needed her, and she was a great leader. She was one of the main reasons this program turned around. Some other kids get a lot of the credit, but Kate was really the first one that really changed our program. A competitive kid but quiet at the same time.”

Whether you’re attending Briar Cliff’s Homecoming or Morningside’s this weekend, River City Rivals will be available at both schools’ campus bookstores.

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Amy Wilhelm and Cheryl Dreckman in a Classic

Amy Wilhelm and Cheryl Dreckman may have been their individual schools’ best of all time, but both teams were loaded with talent in the 1986–87 season. Morningside was coming off their first 20-win season and a trip to the NAIA nationals. Briar Cliff had broken a four-year spell of losing campaigns the season prior by playing .500 ball (13-13) in Cindy Kiser’s first year as head coach. As the team’s met on Wednesday the fourth at Allee, much was on the line. Although Morningside (13-7 overall) led the IO-KOTA with a 6-0 record, it was Briar Cliff (19-3, 4-2) that had the  number 16 national ranking at the time. The Lady Chargers needed a win to get within a game with three to go. A Lady Chiefs’ victory would ensure they’d share the title at worst. Though Morningside had won the last 11 against their rivals, only one of the most recent four had been a comfortable win, and this night, leading rebounder Paula Hunter was sitting in the stands, a victim of the “mumps.”

Once again, Terry Hersom of the SC Journal had a front-row seat for the action. He would be told by Wilhelm after the game, regarding Hunter’s absence, “We still had the same game plan; get the ball inside. Unfortunately, we didn’t do a very good job of that.” It really wouldn’t matter, though, as Wilhelm would score 43 points, one short of her then school record, on 16 of 25 from the field and 11 of 12 from the line. Briar Cliff won the battle of the boards, 45 to 33, but 24 turnovers kept the BCU offense at a disadvantage in the second half after trailing by just one at the break. Dreckman had a solid line for the night—22 points, seven rebounds, and four assists—but she had been “held in check for much of the game by Morningside’s Val Uken.” Rhonda Kujawa and Beth Sibenaller both scored 25 for the Chargers, but Morningside came out of halftime on fire, hitting 12 of their first 16 shots to outscore BCU 24-8. Even with Dreckman’s late-game streak—she scored 14 of her 22 points in the final six minutes—Morningside never let their rivals closer than eight points down the stretch, winning the shoot-out 105-93. Hersom quoted Wilhelm on the rivalry after the win: “Briar Cliff is the biggest game on our schedule every year, and this is the biggest one yet.”

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Another excerpt from RCR – Tom Betz

Tom was one of my very first interviews and provided more than significant help in contacting other former players and coaches. You’ll get real enjoyment from his remembrances and stories about the series: this is just a taste. 

Few people who have played in the Briar Cliff-Morningside series have as much connection to both sides as Tom Betz has. A former Bishop Heelan graduate, Betz was close to heading to BCU. “I went to every Briar Cliff game growing up, and the two biggest rivals were Northwestern and Morningside. Playing at SC Heelan, the natural progression would have been to go to BCU, but things didn’t work out and I ended up at Morningside. No regrets!” Speaking of Bishop Heelan High, Betz went back to his roots and was the head boys’ basketball coach there from 2001 through 2015. His teams went 264-83 (76 percent), won three state titles, and finished runner-up twice. In 2016, Betz was elected to the IHSAA Hall of Fame. He’s now director of advancement at Bishop Heelan.

Tom’s toughest opponent in the series? “Hands down, Fernando Pinillo, probably the most underrated BCU player, just tough as nails. Also, Amado Martinez, BCU post man. Now we’re friends, but back then we had some battles underneath the basket. It’s never been a cutthroat rivalry. After the games in the late ’80s you could find players from both teams at dance clubs. It’s a tough rivalry but once it’s over, you were okay, there weren’t any off the court issues. My son, Jared, says the teams don’t hang out today like we used to. We played twice a year, but being in the same league now, there’s more on the line. The BCU 50th reunion a few years ago was like a reunion for me, too.” So well thought of is Betz that even as a Morningsider, he was the Master of Ceremony for Briar Cliff’s 50th Anniversary of Men’s Basketball, held in 2016.

 “One game Mario Galvez—it’s a tight game, I was a freshman, on the bench watching. They threw a long pass to Galvez. As he goes up for the ball, over the out of bounds line, he catches it, turns, and shoots it over the backboard; all net! That’s when you knew how great he was. I’d like to forget that shot, but it’s the best I’ve ever seen in the series.” How did Betz think Briar Cliff could have fit into the NCC when he played? “They would have been very competitive, when they had the talent in the Panamanians they could definitely play with the NCC teams.”

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Another excerpt from River City Rivals; Mark Grace

Mark Grace played for one of the best Bishop Heelan High teams of all-time before heading to Briar Cliff where he helped lead BCU to its first National Tournament in Kansas City. He still lives in NW Iowa and I was fortunate enough to meet him for an interview. Here’s part of his remembrances of the 1970’s.

Morningside was “a good team to measure yourself against. I think they got us my freshman year. They were just so good. We were good, but we were a year or so away still. I think we won all the games my junior and senior years. I just, you know, I pumped for the first game at the auditorium. I know Morningside had a really good team my freshman year with Dave Schlesser, Doug Schultz from Le Mars, yeah. He was a good player. And Doug Marx! If you ask who I remember playing against the most, it was Marx.” When I mentioned Marx had said he liked Grace’s game and that they “battled,” Mark responded, “Oh, yeah, it was fun. They were just a good team.”

Mark’s senior season was the first time the Chargers won 20 games, finishing 25-4. The Chargers only four losses were to Kearney State (now UNK), which finished second in the NAIA Championships, Northwestern, and Loras, (both regular season losses were avenged in the District 15 playoffs), and a one-point loss in the second round in KC to Winston Salem. “We had a great underclass. Rolando was our sixth man off the bench, and he was the best player on the team. I know there were some games the other guys would ask, ‘That guy doesn’t start?’ We would just say, ‘No, he’s our secret weapon.’ Rolando could jump, really smooth, really smooth, and could almost like, just hang there, you know? He just always could get open and make good shots. I tell you what, the guy today that reminds me a little bit of Rolando is Kevin Durant.”

Mark had good memories of Ray Nacke, too. “I remember old Ray, though, and I can still picture him to this day. He’d be, whoever it was, say it was ‘John’ refereeing the game that night; Ray would say, ‘Blankity-blank, John, you’ll never ref another game for me again.’ He would say that every day! ‘John, you’re never going to ref.’ And then Ray would always, after the game or during the game, he would always say comments to Ron [Schultz], and Ron would write them down, and then at our next practice, he would go over them. You know, bless Ray, but sometimes it was funny. He’d say, ‘Mark, why did you not get that rebound?’ or he would say something crazy, you know, ‘Why’d you shoot that way?’ and I’m like ‘I don’t even know what you’re talking about, Coach.’ Ray always had funny stories. I mean, he didn’t mean them funny, they just came across funny. Yeah, he was fun.”

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An excerpt from River City Rivals; Bob Bargen

One of my favorite interviews while researching the book was with Bob Bargen, a long-time coach in Nebraska high schools as well as college. He was the coach at Morningside through the transition years of the early 2000’s. Here is a portion of his story.

Bob Bargen still looks like he could play. Whether it be baseball or basketball, Bob is in great shape. Except you can tell he’d rather be pacing the sidelines. This man, like so many others I’ve talked to during this book’s journey, is a coach. But unlike many of the others, his time in the BCU-MC series was extremely short, and difficult. You could say the deck may have been stacked against him in his only two seasons as a college head coach, but he was the transitional piece between the two eras of Morningside men’s basketball.

When you sit down with him, Bob’s eyes belie his gracious demeanor when talking about the Morningside’s transition from NCAA D2 to the NAIA at the beginning of this new century. You can see the hurt that still lies deep inside, never bubbling to the top, but there nonetheless. He says, “The hardest part has been the not knowing why” he was let go after having an incredible recruiting season prior to his second and final year. All he received was the standard, “We have decided to go in a different direction.” That recruiting class yielded Morningside’s all-time scoring leader Brad Schmidt; its 11th, Eddie Ceaser; its 15th, Tom Regan; and its 28th, Paul McGill. Quite a haul for one class that culminated their senior season with a trip to the NAIA’s Elite Eight and a final mark of 29-7 in 2006, the most wins in Morningside men’s history.

Gene Steinmeyer, who coached the women’s programs at Doane University (remember BCU Women’s “that Doane loss”?) and Northwest Missouri State, was Bargen’s assistant for a couple of years at Milford, Nebraska High. A few years ago, Steinmeyer wrote the following testimonial about his old boss.

“The next great character in coaching I was lucky enough to work with was Bob Bargen. Bob was one of those coaching figures that I had admired when I coached at Humboldt, NE. Working with Bob provided great insight on what made him tick. He was great at working officials. Usually he knew exactly how far he could take it with the officials. He could back off just in time, unless we had a big lead. It was then he didn’t care if he crossed the technical foul line.

“I saw him once get a technical from official with bad judgement and bad hair. Bob really didn’t like how he had called the game. With just a little time left in the fourth quarter and Milford safely in the lead, the official ran by our bench. Bob shouted to him, “Too bad about your hair.” It took a few seconds for the comment to sink in, but eventually the official was able to stop the game and give Bob a very comical technical foul.

“The absolute funniest exchange with an official came when Bob confronted the late, great Rudy Stoehr, an icon of an official among the high school refereeing ranks. Bob thought Rudy was letting Centennial High School get away with rough play one night in the Milford gym. Rudy had called a jump ball and Bob had disagreed. He yelled, ‘Rudy, we are getting hammered, just hammered.’ Rudy heard Bob’s loud pleads. He handed the ball to his officiating partner, so he could take the outside position on the jump ball. He walked right at Bob as the two glared at each other. I was sure Bob was about to be given a technical foul. Instead, Rudy stopped right by Bob, turned around and got into a ready position so his butt was no more than two inches from Bob’s face. I loved Bob’s comment to me. ‘Think he’s trying to tell me something?’ Bob and Rudy were two of the great characters of the hardwood I had the privilege to see in action during the same game.”

There’s much more to Bob’s story and seasons on the bench at Morningside, as well as his ‘release’ from the head coaching position. You can find it all in River City Rivals.

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Mark Adkins article: Morningside SID

Hoops Hysteria – Morningside alum looks back at “River City Rivalry”

You can almost smell the popcorn popping.

A steady stroll through the River City Rivals book, penned by Morningside College graduate Barry Fouts, offers names of yesterday and today to jump off the page … creating the loud venues of Allee Gymnasium and the Flanagan Center with the syncopated dribbling of the basketball, the sneakers squeaking on the floor and more. Digging into interesting personal histories such as that of Hall of Fame level individuals like Cheryl Dreckman and Rebecca Boothby on the women’s side and Chris Kuhlman and Rolando Frazer on the men’s side while also including the “new age” where Madison Braun and Julie Targy stepped to the forefront for the women while players such as Brody Egger and Jared Betz stood out for the men.

The process of developing the history of Siouxland’s version of collegiate “Hoops Hysteria” came about with a thought.

“I’d been wondering if anyone had delved into the history for a book when I was told about Briar Cliff celebrating 50 years of men’s basketball,” Fouts, a 1976 Mside graduate, remembered. “I looked around and, to my surprise, no one had. I told myself ‘If I want to read it, I’m going to have to write it.’ “

Fouts gathered Mustangs’ athletic historian Dr. Sharon Ocker and BC head coach Mark Svagara, athletic director Nic Nelson, and former Chargers’ standout Ron Schultz at Minveras restaurant in Sioux City and pitched his idea. “I told them here’s what I need … I can’t do it alone,” he reflected. “I was so very impressed that they all immediately responded with the idea they wanted to help in any way possible.”

Trudging through the archives of both institution’s libraries and other outlets for the base of the book, Fouts felt confident it’d be out in “six or seven months.” “Well, I was wrong on that prediction,” he laughed. “It was an 18 to 19-month project. I needed interviews to go with the facts … personal histories were important to me and those could only be gathered by going to the people.”

Over 50 vignettes covering the A to Z’s of Morningside-Briar Cliff hoops … stories about current Morningside women’s coach Jamie Sale and Briar Cliff women’s coach Mike Power being college roommates and then Sale moving on to build the Maroon powerhouse; looking back at legendary Briar Cliff men’s coach Ray Nacke and his “Panamanian Pipeline” that included households names like Rolando Frazer, Mario Galvez and more for fans on the hill; chatting with former sports media area staples such as Terry Hersom, Jerry Hanson and Chuck Happe … Taking a quote from James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams “Memories so strong you’ll have to brush them away from your face with your hand.”

Fouts also added his memories in. “I remember the first varsity game between the two men’s programs in 1973 … the game was incredible and the excitement at Allee was amazing,” he noted. “It was also neat for me, as a Morningside alum, to see the culture of Briar Cliff basketball which I’m sure is the same way for BC alums in regards to Morningside. There’s so much respect (in the series) and former athletes doing great things after college were two other things I took away (from the book).”

Fouts’ ease with putting the rivalry down on paper and making it come to life isn’t a surprise. He came to Morningside wanting to be a journalism major but the field of study was dropped. While he went to a political science track, his love for the written word didn’t fade.

“It actually goes back to third grade,” he reflected. “I wrote a play based on the old Man from U.N.C.L.E. television series. I’m keeping my passion alive too by covering basketball, football and wrestling for Victory Sports Network as well as potentially working up a third book to add to River City Rivals and the 2006 title ‘A Season in the GPAC.’ “ Just as the Briar Cliff – Morningside hoops rivalries continue to build and gain more history, Barry Fouts adds to his memory bank … seeking out the stories.