Cal Lutheran’s first basketball team marks 60th anniversary

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Cal Lutheran’s first basketball team was recognized during halftime at the Kingsmen’s game against Whittier College on Jan. 29. Pictured, from left, are: Andy Schwich, representing his father, coach Luther Schwich, Jim “Huck” Huchthausen ’65, Woody Wilk, Lin Howe ’65 and George Engdahl ’65.

Photo: Courtesy of Cal Lutheran Sports Information

Members of Cal Lutheran’s first basketball team recently celebrated their 60th anniversary with a Jan. 29 reunion. From the inaugural 14-player team, four were able to attend the reunion: George Engdahl ’65, Lin Howe ’65, Jim “Huck” Huchthausen ’65 and Woody Wilk. Festivities started on campus with brunch at Ullman Dining, courtesy of Karsten Lundring ’65, the team’s statistician. Attendees received Cal Lutheran jerseys and spent the morning swapping stories and sharing memories of the late coach Luther Schwich, PhD, with his son Andy Schwich. The group attended the Kingsmen’s basketball game against Whittier College in the afternoon, where they were recognized during halftime. The athletic facilities were a big hit with the group because the campus had no facilities when they played. The team members had to share facilities with Adolfo Camarillo High School, where they practiced and played home games. The constant travel wasn’t easy, but the players knew they were establishing traditions, so they worked hard. “We were true road warriors,” Wilk said. After the game, the group attended a dinner at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, where they were joined by friends, family and alumni. Unfortunately, Steve Gross ’65, Stuart Major ’65, Eric Recsei, Rudy Rikansrud, Bruce Wahlin and Barry Wohrle ’65 were unable to attend the reunion. The remaining players — now deceased — are Al Aronson ’65, Jerry Bell ’66, Paul Christ ’65 and Paul Kilbert ’65. Wilk is proud that all 14 players earned bachelor's degrees, four earned master's degrees and four earned teaching credentials. Nine served in the U.S. military. Rikansrud earned a Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Air Medal with 31 oak leaf clusters as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. Huchthausen, also a Vietnam veteran, was a Fulbright Scholar, a two-sport star at Cal Lutheran and an inaugural member of the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Wilk attributes their success, in part, to the lessons they learned from coach Schwich. “I said to Andy (Schwich), ‘I think your dad would be proud of us.’”