Olney High School

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Olney High School Postcard Photo 1909
olneyhsbldg1909dav.jpg
Submitted by Richard Savage

The History of Olney High School
 
Olney (population 8,631) is located in the southeastern portion of Illinois in the central portion of Richland County.  Olney is situated at the intersection of U.S. Route 50 and Illinois Route 130.  Two railroad lines, the Csx Transportation and the Indiana Hi-Rail also intersect in Olney.  East Fork Lake is located just north of town.  Olney is about 20 miles west of the Illinois/Indiana state border.
 
Histories of the town can be read at the web addresses of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olney,_Illinois and http://www.angelfire.com/il/olneymuseum/publish.html .  In summary, The area where Olney and Richland County is now located began being settled in 1815. The town of Olney was established in 1841 and officially incorporated as a village in Illinois in 1848.  The town is named after Nathan Olney, who at the time was a  banker in nearby Lawrenceville. Olney was chosen as the county seat of Richland County due to its central location in the county.  More information on Olney and its famous white squirrel population can be viewed on the town's official website of www.ci.olney.il.us . 
 
Our best estimate of the history of the original Olney High School is as follows.  We are looking for more concrete information however.  We believe that Olney residents began a high school for their children's education in the late 1800s, possibly as early as the 1870s. We know that Olney High School was in existence at least by 1909 as a postcard image submitted by Richard Savage is postmarked with that year.  Olney High served the residents of Olney well as the town became the hub of the county.
 
We believe it was in the late 1940s that the smaller school districts in the eastern portion of Richland County began to struggle with financial and enrollment issues. It was decided in 1947 to create a unified school district for the eastern portion of Richland County that would be based in Olney. High school districts efffected by this situation included Dundas and Calhoun. The new school district would be called East Richland.  The high school for the new district remained in Olney in the original Olney High School building until 1951 when a new high school building was built.
 
We are not certain of the original Olney High School athletic team nickname or uniform colors prior to the name change to East Richland, if there was any change at all. We only know that the IHSA recognizes this change as well as do some of those who graduated from the original Olney High School.
 
Olney High School Quick Facts
 
Year opened:                      late 1800s
Year consolidated:              1947
Consolidated to:                  (Olney) East Richland
Olney HS team nickname:   unavailable
Olney HS uniform colors:     unavailable
Olney HS Fight Song:         unavailable
ATHLETICS
 
We located coverage on the IHSA website (www.ihsa.org) for the the boys sports of football, basketball, and track for Olney High School. All three sports had some great moments.  Information is needed for the quick facts section above.  We are searching for the Olney High School team nickname, uniform colors, fight song, and other information that might be of interest to add to this page.
 
BOYS BASKETBALL
 
The highlight of the boys basketball program came in the 1929-30 season when the boys would finish THIRD and in the 1919-20 basketball season when Olney HS finished FOURTH in the state's one-class basketball tourney.  Olney high would make one other trip to the state finals, as well as bringing home five District titles, one Regional championship, and two Sectional titles. The OHS basketball success, as found on the IHSA website, is listed below.
 
1911-12    3 - 4                                                       Coach Charles Van Cleve
1912-13    4 - 0                                                       Coach Charles Van Cleve
1913-14    7 - 3                                                       Coach Charles Van Cleve
1914-15    6 - 5                                                       Coach Charles Van Cleve
1915-16    7 - 5                                                       Coach Charles Van Cleve
1916-17  14 - 4                                                       Coach Charles Van Cleve
1917-18  16 - 4                                                       Coach Charles Van Cleve
1918-19  18 - 4                                                       Coach Charles Van Cleve
 
1919-20  23 - 6  FOURTH PLACE IHSA TOURNEY!  Coach Charles Van Cleve
                            District Champions
                            State Final's Qualifier (Sweet 16)
                            Beat Champaign 43 - 24
                            Elite 8 
                            Beat Galesburg 33 - 22
                            Final 4
                            Lost to Canton 37 - 18
                            (Canton finished 2nd)
                            Third Place Game 
                            Lost to Marion 29 - 20
                        
1920-21  11 - 17                                                     Coach Charles Van Cleve
1921-22  24 - 6      District Champions                   Coach Charles Van Cleve
1922-23  20 - 3                                                       Coach Charles Van Cleve
1923-24  21 - 4                                                       Coach Charles Van Cleve
1924-25  12 - 12                                                     Coach Howard "Slim" Beard
1925-26  13 - 12                                                     Coach Howard "Slim" Beard
1926-27  17 - 8                                                       Coach Charles Van Cleve
1927-28  25 - 2                                                       Coach Charles Van Cleve
1928-29  21 - 7      District Champions                    Coach Charles Van Cleve
 
1929-30  33 - 6  THIRD PLACE IHSA TOURNEY!     Coach Charles Van Cleve
                            District Champions
                            Sectional Champions
                            State Final's Qualifier
                            Elite 8
                            Beat Carbondale 21 - 18
                            Final 4
                            Lost to Bloomington 33 - 23
                            (Bloomington placed 2nd)
                            Third Place Game
                            Beat Beardstown 27 - 18 
 
1930-31  15 - 13                                                      Coach Charles Van Cleve
1931-32  14 - 12                                                      Coach Charles Van Cleve
1932-33    8 - 17                                                      Coach Charles Van Cleve
1933-34  12 - 12                                                      Coach Charles Van Cleve
1934-35  17 - 11     District Champions                    Coach Frank Newton
1935-36  25 - 5                                                        Coach Frank Newton
1936-37  22 - 6                                                        Coach Frank Newton
1937-38  23 - 7                                                        Coach Frank Newton
1938-39  24 - 4       Regional Champions                Coach Frank Newton
1939-40  21 - 7                                                        Coach Frank Newton
1940-41  19 - 10                                                      Coach Frank Newton
 
1941-42  27 - 5   ELITE 8 FINALIST IHSA Tourney!  Coach Frank Newton
                             Sectional Champions
                             Sweet 16 Finalist
                             Beat Quincy 47 - 40
                             Elite 8 Finalist 
                             Lost to Freeport 29 - 24
                             (Freeport would finish 3rd)
 
1942-43  21 - 4                                                        Coach Frank Newton
1943-44  10 - 12                                                      Coach Frank Newton
1944-45  21 - 10                                                      Coach Frank Newton
1945-46  14 - 12                                                      Coach Forrest Sprowl
1946-47  22 - 7                                                        Coach Forrest Sprowl
 
IHSA Basketball Records Held By Olney HS
  #5 All-Time - Margin of Victory - Shutout - 49 pts (beat Oblong 49 - 0 in 1916)  
  #8 All-Time - Margin of Victory - 119 pts. (beat Albion 126 - 7 in 1919)
#23 All-Time - Wins in a Season - 33 (1929-30)
 
Great Coaches 
 
Two Olney HS basketball coaches paved the way for the future teams of East Richland.  Coach Charles Van Cleve coach at Olney from 1911-12 through 1923-24.  After a two year break he returned to the helm and coached the boys from 1926-27 through 1933-34.  Below is a breakdown of his accomplishments:
 
Coach Charles Van Cleve   -  Career Record at Olney - 324 - 149 (#224 in IHSA History)
                                              2 - IHSA Final Four Trophies Won
                                              1 - 30+ games-won season 
                                              7 - 20+ games-won seasons
                                              4 - District Titles Won
                                              1 - Sectional Title Won
 
Coach Frank Newton coached the boys program from 1934-35 through 1944-45.  His accomplishments are as follows:
 
Coach Frank Newton -  Career Record at Olney   230 - 81
                                     1 - Appearance at IHSA Finals (Elite 8)
                                     8 - 20+ games-won seasons (of 11 seasons total)   
                                     1 - District Title
                                     1 - Regional Title
                                     1 - Sectional Title
 
Overall the Olney High School boys basketball program had a record of 610 - 266 between 1911-12 and 1946-47!!         
                                                  
 
FOOTBALL
 
As with most schools of the early days of high school sports, Olney High School hired one coach to teach multiple sports.  Coach Charlie Van Cleave and Coach Frank Newton proved to be as knowledgeable on the football field as they were on the basketball court. Coach Barney Coen was the only other coach listed from 1924 through 1947 besides these two as far as football is concerned.
 
Coach Van Cleave's 1925 team and Coach Frank Newton's 1943 team were the only two to make it through the season undefeated.  The football records as listed on the IHSA website are listed below.    
 
1924-25    5 - 2 - 2                                           Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1925-26    9 - 0       Undefeated Season!         Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1926-27    6 - 3                                                Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1927-28    6 - 2                                                Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1928-29    3 - 5 - 1                                           Coach Barney Coen
1929-30    2 - 5                                                Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1930-31    3 - 5                                                Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1931-32    1 - 3 - 5   (5 ties!!)                             Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1932-33    4 - 4 - 1                                           Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1933-34                                                           Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1934-35    4 - 4 - 1                                           Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1935-36    7 - 2                                                Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1936-37    6 - 1 - 1                                           Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1937-38    5 - 2 - 2                                           Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1938-39    3 - 5                                                Coach Charlie Van Cleave
1939-40    7 - 1 - 1                                           Coach Frank Newton
1940-41    4 - 4                                                Coach Frank Newton
1941-42    5 - 3                                                Coach Frank Newton
1942-43    3 - 4 - 1                                           Coach Frank Newton
1943-44    3 - 0       Undefeated Season!         Coach Frank Newton
1944-45    2 - 4 - 1                                           Coach Frank Newton
1945-46    2 - 5                                                Coach Frank Newton
1946-47    2 - 4 - 1                                           Coach Frank Newton
 
BOYS TRACK & FIELD
 
The Olney thinclads had some nice seasons in the 1920s.  Two TOP-TEN finishes in the IHSA State Finals shows us that the boys of that era were well-rounded athletes.  Eight individual athletes earned a total of 11 medals in State Meet competition as well. Three of these individual medalists were crowned STATE CHAMPIONS in their events. Their efforts and team standings are listed below.
 
1918-19B    Team Placed NINTH in STATE CLASS 'B' Meet!!  Coach Charles Van Cleave 
 
                Individual Medalists
                Harnback             440 Yard Dash                  STATE CHAMPION!!
                Roberts                Long Jump                       3RD Place
 
                Final Team Standings
                1)  Chicago (University)                19
                2)  Georgetown                            16  
                3)  Lockport (Twp.)                       15  
                4)  Atwood                                  12  
                5)  Edwardsville (H.S.)                  10  
                5)  Altona                                    10  
                7)  Auburn                                    9  
                8)  Elmwood                                 8  
                9)  OLNEY HIGH SCHOOL            7  
                9)  El Paso                                   7  
                9)  Delavan                                   7
 
1921-22B  Individual Medalists
                W. Poland            Javelin                            STATE CHAMPION!!   
     
           Jones                   Pole Vault                       4TH Place
 
1922-23B  Team Placed SIXTH in STATE CLASS 'B' Meet!!  Coach Charles Van Cleave 
                Individual Medalists
                H. Moore              880 Yard Run                   STATE CHAMPION!!
                W. Poland            Javelin                            2ND Place
                Gray                     50 Yard Dash                   5TH Place

                Final Team Standings
                1)  White Hall                      20 1/5
                2)  Bridgeport                      15  
                3)  Hinsdale (Twp.)              15  
                4)  Carlinville                       12   
                5)  Havana                          11  
                6)  Pinckneyville                  10  
                6)  OLNEY HIGH SCHOOL  10  
                6)  Wheaton (H.S.)              10   
                6)  Toluca                           10
 
1923-24B  Individual Medalist  -  W. Poland     Javelin        5TH Place
1925-26    Individual Medalist  -  W. Zimmerle  880 Yd Rn    2ND Place
1926-27    Individual Medalist  -  W. Zimmerle  880 YD Rn    2ND Place
1928-29    Individual Medalist  -  Day                 Pole Vlt       2ND Place
1933-34    Team Won District Championship
 
SPEECH INDIVIDUAL EVENTS
 
In the Speech Individual Events competition sponsored by the IHSA one individual at Olney High School earned a medal in a state-wide event.
 
1941     Philip Zimmerly    Oratory Declamation      3RD Place
 
SEEKING MORE INFORMATION
 
If you have more information you would like to share regarding the original Olney High School please complete a School Submission Form or write us a note on the Guest Commentary page.  We are especially interested in a photo of the original school building. You can also e-mail us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net. or you can write to us at:
 
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il.    60631