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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/6/2013 10:56:27 PM

By Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune

The movie “Hoosiers” documented fictional Hickory High School’s run to a magical boys basketball state championship, loosely basing the story on tiny Milan High School winning Indiana’s 1954 single-school title.

If a script is ever written about a tiny Minnesota school’s similar accomplishment, Edgerton High School would be the perfect example.

The architect of Edgerton’s historic 1960 one-class title, coach Richie Olson of Virginia, died Thursday from injuries he suffered in a fall last week north of Virginia, his brother, Floyd, told the News Tribune. Olson was placed on a respirator and never recovered. He was 76.

Olson was only 23 years old when he was hired to coach the Flying Dutchmen before the 1959-60 season.

“When I first saw them, I didn’t think they could do it,” Olson told the Mesabi Daily News in 2010. “Four of them were skinny little things,” he said of the team that consisted of starters LeRoy Graphenteen, Darrell Kreun, Dean Veenhof, Dean Verdoes and Bob Wiarda.

A few months later, Edgerton put the finishing touches on a 27-0 season by beating Chisholm (pre-Bob McDonald) 65-54, tournament favorite Richfield 63-60 in overtime and Austin 72-61 in the final.

Olson lived in West Virginia as a child but graduated from Mountain Iron High School and later Virginia Junior College and Macalester College in St. Paul. He went on to the University of Minnesota graduate school and moved to Edgerton (enrollment 94 in grades 9-12) when the school offered him and his wife teaching positions.

He later coached basketball and served as the athletic director at Virginia.

After arriving at Edgerton, Olson said he realized players quickly adapted to his coaching style.

“I played basketball all my life,” Olson told the Mesabi newspaper, “and I taught it the way I felt it should be played.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.


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