Buda is located in Bureau County, 15 miles southwest of Princeton along Illinois State Route 40 and the Burlington Northern-Sante Fe line from Chicago to Los Angeles. It’s population is around 600, despite being considered as a “ghost town” of Illinois.
Western High School was a result of a name change from Buda High School in 1961, when the Sheffield school district was consolidated with the Buda school district. The “Western” part of the name comes from being the western-most school in Bureau County.
Western High School lasted from 1961 to 1995. Western, Wyanet, Walnut, and Manlius high schools came together to form the Bureau Valley School District. The former Western High School facility was used as Bureau Valley High School from 1995 – 1997 while the new Bureau Valley High School facility in Manlius was under construction. The following information was sent to us by Jeff McCoy as found on the Bureau Valley High School Wikipedia page:
“In 1995, at the now Bureau Valley South (temporary BVHS campus), the name of the new school district was announced to the high school and communities. After a long, drawn-out light and fog show with the first track from Ridin’ the Storm Out playing in the background, a sign revealing the name to be “Bureau Valley High School” was accepted positively by attendees.
From 1995 to 1997, Bureau Valley students attended school at the former Western High School. Three graduating classes studied in this building, which is now Bureau Valley South Elementary.”
Thank you to Ben Atkinson for providing this information.
The Buda Western High School buildings were utilized as a grade school for the Bureau Valley School District through the 2016-17 school year. It was in July of 2017 that the buildings, having been deemed unsafe, were torn down. The following is a link to an article in the Bureau County Republican newspaper which documents this sad event.
Building used for now: Middle School through 2017, has been razed.
School colors: Black & White
School Fight Song: “Hey Look Us Over”
Conferences: Indian Valley (1977-1995), Blackhawk
Western High School Football Field
School Buildings in Background
The Western Rams competed in the Blackhawk and Indian Valley conferences. For more information on the Blackhawk Conference check out John Ballentine’s article on the GREAT CONFERENCES page of this site.
Western High School offered a variety of athletics. Football, basketball, track volleyball, and golf were all offered at one time. Successes were reached on the conference and state contest levels in each sport. The most notable of these successes which we have researched thus far are listed below.
The most successful athletic program on a team level was the Boys Basketball program. Coach “Chips” Giovanne came over from Bureau Twp. in 1961 and led the Rams to a District Championship in 1968 (21-7) and back-to-back Class A State Tourney appearances in 1975 and 1976:
1975 – Finished 29-1 overall with an undefeated regular season and defeated (now AA) Lemont in the Streator Super-Sectional. The Rams lost to eventual third placer finishers Watseka in the opening round of the tournament in Champaign. Bob Sprowls was named to the All-Tournament team with 44 points in the two tournament games. Western was ranked 4th in the Associated Press final polls.
1976 – Finished 31-2 overall with an undefeated regular season and defeated Palos Heights Chicago Christian in the Pontiac Super-Sectional and defeated Havana in the first round of the Elite ‘8’ tournament, 64-54 behind a 24-point effort from Ron “Stick” Happach. They fell to eventual state champions Mt. Pulaski in the semi-finals and fell to Lawrenceville, 65-57 in the third place game.
Overall, the two basketball teams combined for a 49-2 record with a 50+ regular season winning streak spanning between 1974 and 1976.
Brad Bickett, former Ohio High School standout basketball player, took over the program in 1991 and took home Regional championships in 1991, 1992 and 1995. In 1992, the Rams had a record of 19-8. After coaching several seasons at Bureau Valley High School and leading that school to three third place finishes in the IHSA Class A Tourney, Bickett left BVHS and currently coaches for Rock Falls High School.
Here are the season records of the Western High School boys basketball program as listed on the IHSA website. Other IHSA scores were locateed on a website titled “Illinois Postseason Basketball Scores“.
1994-95 15 – 10 Regional Champions Coach Brad Bickett
The Rams football program qualified for the IHSA playoffs four times. In 1976, 1979 and 1992, they finished 8-2. In 1977, they had an undefeated regular season at 9-0 before losing in the playoffs in the first round under coach Rich Corpus.
In 1973, the Rams were led by a quarterback named Mark Marquis. His 482 passing yards against Elmwood ranks 10th all-time for most in a game in Illinois; just 8 shy from 9th place, which is owned by long-time University of Illinois quarterback, Jon Beutjer. Marquis had six touchdown passses (6th all-time in Illinois) and was 16-32 from behind the line of scrimmage.
Some records from the 1960s involving Buda Western’s football program are provided below by Tom Sikorski. Most of the information for this section was provided by Mike Spratt.
1961 5-2 2nd place Little 8 Conference Coach Ron Hewitt
1962 7-0-1 Little 8 Conference ChampsCoach Ron Hewitt
1963 6-3 3rd place Little 8 conference Coach Ron Hewitt
1964 5-4 3rd place Little 8 conference Coach Ron Hewitt
1965 3-5-1 Coach Harry Lehning
Team of 1965 featured All-State
Linebacker Dan Tumbleson
1966: 3-5 Coach Harry Lehning
1967 5-3 2nd place Little 8 conference Coach Joe Colmone
1968: 4-5 Coach Joe Colmone
1969 1-7-1 Coach Joe Colmone
1970 0-9 Coach Joe Colmone
1971: 2-7 Coach Rich Corpus
1972 4-5 Coach Rich Corpus
1973 4-5 Coach Rich Corpus
1974 7-1-1 2nd place Blackhawk conf Coach Rich Corpus
1975 7-2 2nd place Blackhawk conf Coach Rich Corpus
1976 8-2 IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier Coach Rich Corpus
Indian Valley Conf Champs
IHSA Playoffs 1st Round
Lost to Chenoa
1977 9-1IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier Coach Rich Corpus
Indian Valley Conf Champs
IHSA Playoffs 1st Round
Lost to Monmouth Yorkwood 6 – 0 (2 O/Ts)
Chenoa lost in 2nd Round.
1978 7-2 Coach Rich Corpus
1979 8-2 IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier Coach Jim Hewitt
Indian Valley Conf Champs
IHSA Playoffs 1st Round
Lost to Milledgeville 24 – 8
Millidgeville lost in 2nd Round
1980: 6-3 Coach Jim Hewitt
1981: 6-3 Coach Jim Hewitt
1982: 4-5 Coach Jim Hewitt
1983 5-4 Coach Jim Hewitt
1984: 4-5 Coach Jim Hewitt
1985 2-7 Coach Jim Hewitt
1986 6-3 Coach Jerry Dobbs
1987: 4-5 Coaches Chris Edmonds/Terry Gutshall
1988 3-6 Last Independant Football Season Coach Terry Gutshall
Western-Wyanet Football Coop Teams
1989 3-6 Coach Bill Estes
1990: 3-6 Coach Terry Gutshall
Western-Wyanet-DePue (W-D-W) Coop Teams
1991: 5-4 Coach Terry Gutshall
1992 6-4 IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier Coach Terry Gutshall
IHSA Playoffs 1st Round
Lost to Wethersfield 14 – 8
Wethersfield Lost in Semi-Finals
(Beat #6 ranked Annawan HS 42-8 in the
seventh game of the regular season!)
1993: 2-7 Coach Terry Gutshall
1994: 3-6 Coach Paul Blandford
This (1994) was the last football season fielded by Buda-Western HS players. Western became part of the Bureau Valley School District in the fall of 1995.
*Overall Football Record in 34 seasons at Buda-Sheffield Western High School: 157-144-4
Girls Basketball was offered at Western, and the Lady Rams won a regional championship in 1979 with an undefeated 14-0 season and finished the season at 16-1 under coach Deb Stetson. In 1988, they finished a gratifying 21-2 under coach Charlie Yelm.
1977-78 6 – 3 First Season Coach Deb Stetson
1978-79 16 – 1 Regional Champions Coach Deb Stetson
1979-80: 7 – 8 Coach Mike Taukus
1980-81: 8 – 7 Coach Mike Taukus
1981-82: 4 – 10 Coach Pat Corwin
1982-83: 5 – 10 Coach Pat Corwin
1983-84: 6 – 12 Coach Charlie Yelm
1984-85: 8 – 11 Coach Charlie Yelm
1985-86: 10 – 11 Coach Charlie Yelm
1986-87: 13 – 9 Coach Charlie Yelm
1987-88 21 – 2 Coach Charlie Yelm
1988-89 23 – 1 Undefeated Reg. Season Coach Charlie Yelm
Lost to State Ranked
Neponset in Regional
1989-90 17 – 5 Coach Charlie Yelm
1990-91 (information needed)
1991-92 Coach Hepner
1992-9311 – 9 Coach Charlie Yelm
1994-95 Coach Paul Blanford
The Lady Ram Volleyball team was very successful in their early days. They won three regionals (1975, 1977, 1981) in which 1975 was the first year volleyball was offered at Western. Also in 1977, they won a sectional championship.
1974-75 7 – 1 First Season Coaches Tocha / Goble
1975-76 11 – 2 Regional Champions Coaches Tocha / Goble
1981-82 15 – 4 Regional Champions Coach Pat Corwin
Indian Valley Conf Champs 11-0
1982-83 8 – 7 Coach Pat Corwin
1983-84 7 – 6 Coach Pat Corwin
1984-85 1 – 13 Coach Pat Corwin
1985-86 10 – 9 Coach Pat Corwin
1986-87 Record Needed Coach Pat Corwin
1987-88 Record Needed Coach Pat Corwin
1988-89 17 – 4 Coach Pat Corwin
1989-90 9 – 10 Coach Pat Corwin
1990-91 Record Needed Coach Pat Corwin
1991-92 9 – 14 Coach Pat Corwin
1992-93 13 – 11 Coach Pat Corwin
1993-94 15 – 6 2nd Place Indian Valley Conf. (8-2) Coach Pat Corwin
1994-95 Record Needed Coach Pat Corwin
GIRLS TRACK & FIELD
In 1980, the Lady Ram Girls Track program had a very successful season. They finished in fifth place at the state tournament and also had a win over future Indian Valley Girls Track powers, Tampico. The 1979-80 girl’s finished in 5th place at the State Track Meet.
Western has had 8 state medalists in it’s history:
1979 – – Sheila Foster [5th] (200 low-hurdles)
1980 – – Rhonda Gingrich [6th] (3200-meter run)
1980 – – Sheila Foster [2nd] (100 low-hurdles)
1980 – – Sheila Foster [2nd] (200 low-hurdles)
1980 – – Sheila Foster [8th] (long jump)
1979-80 Class A State Meet Final Team Standings
1 Mahomet (M.-Seymour) 36
2 Chicago (University) 35
3 New Lenox (Providence Catholic) 23
4 Watseka 22
5 Buda (Western) 20
6 Greenville 18
6 Elmhurst (Immaculate Concepti 18
6 Peoria (Bergan) 18
9 Monticello 17
10 Freeburg 16
1982 – – Kris Kaufman [7th] (100-meter dash)
1982 – – Kris Kaufman [8th] (200-meter dash)
1982 – – Kris Kaufman [3rd] (long jump)
1993 – – Veronica Miller [6th – 400-meter dash)
1993 – – 3200-meter relay team [6th]
1995 – – Veronica Miller (7th – 400 Meter Dash)
1995 – – 800 meter-medly relay – 7th
Lonnie Hewitt on the Podium – State Champ 1979
From left toright: Larry Harpman, Jim Moore, LONNIE HEWITT, Eric Foster
BOYS TRACK & FIELD
The Western Rams won some medals in track & field as well. The most impressive is that of the accomplishements of Lonnie Hewitt. Between 1976 (his freshman year) and 1979 Lonnie won an incredible three gold medals in the high jump (sophomore, junior, and senior years). He also placed 6th in the high jump his freshman year and gained an 8th place finish in the 440 yard dash his senior year. Great job Lonnie Hewitt!!
David Hartz and Dennis VanderMeersch each brought home two medals from the IHSA State Track Meet as did two relay teams from the 1982 season..
1975 David Hartz Long Jump 7TH Place
1976 David Hartz Long Jump 5TH Place
Lonnie Hewitt High Jump 6TH Place
Relay Team 880 Relay 6TH Place
Team Won Blackhawk Conf. Championship
1977 Lonnie Hewitt High Jump STATE CHAMPION!!
1978 Lonnie Hewitt High Jump STATE CHAMPION!!
1979 Lonnie Hewitt High Jump STATE CHAMPION!!
440 Yard Dash 8TH Place
1980 Dennis VanderMeersch 300 M Hurdles 2ND Place
100 M Dash 3RD Place
1982 Relay Team 4 X 100 6TH Place
4 X 200 6Th Place
**Corey Waldinger (Class of 1986)
Corey Waldinger, a Buda native and 1986 graduate of Western High, was named Oustanding Young Alum of the College of ACES (Agriculture, consumer and environmental sciences) in October 2005. He is the President of the Chicago Agricultural Economists Club, and currently an executive director at Rabobank International, Chicago. According to a report published in the Stark County News, (24 November, 2005) Waldinger remains involved in outside activities, including coaching his son’s baseball and soccer teams.
**Lonnie Hewitt (Class of 1979)
Lonnie continued his incredible track career graduating from Augustana College with a degree in Accounting. Lonnie was a two-time All-American there, and was a main cog on the Augie thinclad team which in 1981 placed second in the National meet. Hewitt was named Augie’s track team captain his senior year.
Lonnie went on to become a well known football and basketball referee in the northern part of Illinois. His skills were so noted that he was selected to work the IHSA Girls Basketball State Tournament on three seperate occasions!”
**From Larry Jontz:
“I love reading through your Glory Days website and reminiscing about the old schools and the old days. I really miss those good old days and the small schools. I was in heaven during state tournament time. I now live in Missouri and tell people there is nothing like Illinois during basketball season. Annawan and Tiskilwa were our two toughest rivals and gave us the most trouble although Neponset was the most fun to beat in basketball because we despised each other so much. They upset our Little 8 Conference regular season championship team in the 1964 District Championship game on our home court by 20 points and a most bitter rivalry was born. Keep up the great work. I love reading about all the schools.”
**From Mike Spratt (Class of 1992):
“In 1992 our team was coached by Terry Gutshall and we made the playoffs…that is correct, but it says that we were 8-2…that is not correct. Actually, we were 6-3 going into the playoffs, and lost to Wethersfield to end our season at 6-4. I have also seen this error on the IHSA page. 1992 was my junior year, I was from Sheffield, and I played halfback and defensive back on that team. A highlight from that season was when we beat an undefeated Annawan team that was 6-0 and ranked 6th in the state at that time. We were 4-2, and it was the journal star game of the week. We were the underdog, and not picked to win or even compete. We went to Annawan and hung it on them 42-8!!! One of the biggest upsets in our school history. That win thrusted us into the playoffs for the first time in years. Our 3 loses going into the playoffs that year were Port Byron Riverdale (16-18), Princeville (16-18), and Manlius/Tampico (7-22). We played the playoff game against Kewanee Wethersfield at home in the snow.”
SEEKING FURTHER INFORMATION
If you have any further information regarding the history of Western High School please write to us via e-mail at email@example.com . You can also write to us via real mail at: