1984 Pelican Vikings won close gamesPublished 8:38am Monday, March 17, 2014
Thirty years ago the Pelican Rapids High School boys basketball team won three games at the state tournament by a combined five points.
Pat Westby scored the winning basket for the Class A Vikings in the state title game, when there was a two-class system.
Pelican Rapids won by two points in the state quarterfinals over Wells-Easton, by a single point against St. John’s Prep in the semi-finals and by two points over Winona Cotter in the state finals.
“It doesn’t seem possible that 30 years have passed since we won the state championship,” said Tim Rogelstad, a junior starting forward in 1984 and currently vice president of asset management for Otter Tail Power Company.
He said the memories from the 1984 Pelican Viking season are still crystal clear.
“I can still visualize Pat’s game winning shot in the championship game which still sends chills up my spine,” said Rogelstad. “While we don’t get a chance to see our teammates on a regular basis, the bond that we have is still incredible.
Playing basketball together taught us much more than the game of basketball, and prepared us well in other aspects of life.”
Rogelstad said the confidence that Coach Rex Haugen instilled in the team was never more prevalent than the Pelican Rapids boys team winning the three state tournament games by the combined five points.
“Coach had us well prepared by drilling into us that if the game was close we would win,” said Rogelstad. “We knew we were going to win, and there was no doubt in our minds. I’m sure our fans probably thought differently as they had to sit through three nail biters.”
For Rogelstad, Westby and other team members, as 17- and 18-year-olds, winning the state championship put them on top of the world.
“Prior to walking into our homecoming celebration after state, I remember Coach Haugen reminding everyone that a great thing had been accomplished,” said Rogelstad, “but there was much more ahead of us in our lives that would be just as great.”
Back in 1984, Haugen told team members that life could, in the future, seem like somewhat of a letdown.
“We all asked, ‘How could life be any better?’ But as I’ve grown older the wisdom in those words from Coach Haugen could never have been more true,” said Rogelstad. “Now, 30 years later, I fully understand what he was saying.”
Westby, a senior guard in 1984, currently serves as superintendent at West Central Area Schools, Barrett.
“It seems like yesterday that we were enjoying that incredible time in our lives,” said Westby. “The memories are still so very, very clear. Thirty years later I remember the whole experience as being such an overwhelming joy.”
Westby, in addition to winning the three games at state by a total of five points, also recalls the Region 6 title win over Breckenridge by just two points.
“Amazing that we won the last four games of the tournament by a total of seven points,” he said, “and we had some funny, crazy things that happened off the court.”
Westby recalls Coach Haugen’s pre-game, halftime and post-game pep talks.
“Rex was such a master-motivator,” said Westby. “We were always well prepared and he had us believing in ourselves.”
Over the past 30 years, Westby remembered Haugen saying over and over again that “if we’re down by seven points with two minutes to go, we’re gonna get you.” Haugen had the unique ability to have everyone in the gym believing that.
Westby, like Rogelstad, says the 1984 Vikings squad shares such a special bond, even after 30 years.
These days the former players talk not so much of the things that took place on the court, but mostly of the times they enjoyed together off the court.
“What an experience for a small-town group of kids,” said Westby.