MHS softball celebrates championship anniversaries

2013-04-06T03:00:00Z MHS softball celebrates championship anniversariesBy Matt Carter Dunn County Historical Society Chippewa Herald

"We don't like to lose to anybody." Those were the words of Menomonie High School softball coach Pat Helixon at the start of the 1983 season. While this may seem like an obvious statement, coach Helixon and the MHS softball team intended to prove it was more than just words.

However, the start of the 1983 season saw some turnover on the roster as the MHS softball team needed to replace seven letter winners from a team that went 16-1 in 1982.

To prove they did not like to lose to anyone, they took to the field with hopes of improving the 16-1 record from the previous year.

The team started hot, posting two wins immediately out of the gate. As they continued to take the field against their opponents, the victories continued to come as well. The team quickly posted a 5-0 record in Big Rivers Conference play.

Over the remainder of the season, the team continued to rally around their coach and eventually found themselves atop the Big Rivers Conference standings as they took home the crown once more.

However, winning the conference championship was not enough for them as they were set to open the Regional Tournament against Chippewa Falls. After defeating Chippewa Falls, the only team that remained in their way was Eau Claire Memorial.

After defeating a solid Eau Claire Memorial team, the team known at the time as the Menomonie Indians improved to 14-2 on the season and glided their way into Sectionals. With one more obstacle standing between their dream of playing in the State Tournament, Superior traveled to Wakanda Park to take on the red-hot Indians.

Improving to 17-2 seemed rather easy for the softball-nine, as they entered the State Tournament with the expectations that they would not lose.

In the second round of the tournament, MHS defeated Watertown and then prepared for their game with Homestead for the Championship. While the two teams showed up, it was evident from the start that MHS had the upper hand. In the end, with a final score of 10-4, MHS was able to raise the state championship trophy for the first time in school history.

Five years after winning the state title, the 1988 MHS softball team opened the season once again trying to prove they were the top team in the Big Rivers Conference. To do so, they had to rely on 10 returning players from the previous year.

The 1987 team had an impressive 22-3 record, despite losing in the championship game.

Unfortunately, the 1988 team posted an outstanding 18-1 record, with the lone loss coming as the knockout blow in the first round of the playoffs.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, there was nothing to be disappointed about. Coach Helixon was in charge of MHS softball since the WIAA officially sanctioned girl's softball in the state tournament in 1979.

Helixon coached the Menomonie High School softball team from 1979-1990, culminating in 12 highly-successful seasons.

During his tenure as head coach, the softball team earned nine Regional crowns, four Sectional crowns and four State Tournament appearances. While in the State Tournament, the Indians softball teams claimed the title in 1983 and were runners up in 1982 and 1987.

In the Big Rivers Conference, MHS reigned supreme. Helixon won the Conference Title in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1988. Not to mention a few second place finishes along the way.

As if the number of conference championships and state tournament appearances were not enough, Helixon posted an astounding record of 180-37-1 during his 12 seasons as the head of MHS softball.

Looking back from the perspective of the 30th Anniversary of the State Title and the 25th Anniversary of the Big Rivers Conference, the easiest conclusion to draw based on the success of Helixon and his numerous softball teams was that his teams "[did not] like to lose to anybody."

Copyright 2015 Chippewa Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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