Decatur Stephen Decatur High School

Stephen Decatur High School Building 1957 – 1975
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The History of Stephen Decatur High School

Decatur (population 81,860) sits in the middle of the state of Illinois, linked by U.S. Route 51, Interstate 72, and Illinois Routes 105 and 121. The city is known for its production of soybeans, as evidenced by the location of the world-wide offices of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and the A.E. Staley Company. Lake Decatur sits on the east and side side of the city, where the Chicago Bears football franchise was born in 1920.

The city is named for War of 1812 naval hero Stephen Decatur (1779-1820) who captured the British Macedonian in a desperate fight near Madiera Island. Outside of John Paul Jones and David Farragut, Decatur was best known for saying: “Our country…may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong!” He is also credited for quelling attacks made by pirates in the Mediterranean Sea, who had discouraged commerce by many nations to the region and took sailors as slaves to countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, and Tripoli, also known as the Barbery States.

Decatur was also credited with one of the most daring acts in naval history on February 16th, 1804, after the US frigate Philadelphia was captured by the Barbery States, then-Lieutenant Decatur with a small ship and crew came into the harbor unnoticed where the Philadelphia was anchored, and set the frigate on fire while not losing a life. For his actions, Decatur was promoted to Captain, and eventually to Commodore before losing his life in a duel in 1820 to a fellow Commodore he had court-martialed and Decatur refused to reinstate him to his rank.

As a school, 1862 was the year that 64 students enrolled in secondary education what was to be called Decatur High School, scattered among several buildings for their six-month term (or school year). As the population grew towards the turn of the 20th Century, funds were raised to build a new school, which officially opened at the corner of East North Street and South Franklin Street near the downtown district in 1911. As the town grew, so did the enrollment as Lakeview High School (also on this site) was annexed into the city, and two newer schools, Eisenhower and MacArthur, were built to ease the overcrowding at Decatur High School, which changed its name to Stephen Decatur High School after the 1956-57 school year.

Even with three other public high schools in Decatur, the enrollment continued to increase and a newer, state-of-the-art facility was opened in 1975 with amenities such as air conditioning, glass walls, a rubberized gymnasium floor, carpeting, and much more was in the new building. But as the population and enrollments went down in the mid-1980’s and thru the 1990’s, the decision was made to close down Stephen Decatur and split the students between the two schools created to ease the enrollment years before, MacArthur and Eisenhower, in 2000. Today, the building is home to Stephen Decatur Middle School.

Stephen Decatur is said to have one of the oldest pubications for a high school newpaper (The Observer) and yearbook (The Decanois) in central Illinois.

Important Facts about Stephen Decatur High School

Year Stephen Decatur HS established:  1957

Year new SDHS building opened:          1975

Year closed:                                            2000

School Colors:                                        Red and White

School Nickname:                                  the “Runnin’ Reds”

School Song:                                          “On Decatur” (sung to “Go You Northwestern”)

                                                                              Lyrics Provided by Mary Berry Badgley

Go you Decatur
Break right through that line
With your colors flying
We will cheer you all the time,

Go, rah, rah

Go you Decatur
Fight for victory,
Spread far the fame
Of our fair name and
Go Decatur win this game!

Go Decatur Go
Hit ’em high, hit ’em low
Go Decatur Go

Newer Steven Decatur High School
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Built in 1975

Stephen Decatur High School offered a number of athletic opportunities for its students while the doors were open. On the boys’ side, football, basketball, baseball, golf, tennis, track, cross-country, and wrestling, while the girls had volleyball, basketball, track, and tennis. According to the IHSA website (, there was no mention of softball or cross-country at the school. If anyone knows if these sports or others existed at the school, please let us know so we can include them. The Runnin’ Reds were part of the Big 12 Conference, competing with the likes of Champaign Central, Champaign Centennial, Urbana, Rantoul, Danville, Mattoon, fellow Decatur schools Eisenhower and MacArthur, in addition to Bloomington, Normal, Normal West, Lincoln, among others.

Boys Basketball

If you’ve been to the restroom lately, then settle in for some good reading about this historic hoops program in the state of Illinois. John Schneiter would lead a team to a title in 1962, two years after Gay Kintner died from a heart attack at a game in 1960 against cross-town rival MacArthur. Decatur and Stephen Decatur wound placing in the final four on 10 occasions out of 23 times it qualified, ensuring that they would take home a trophy from the state finals. The “two” schools combined record is also one of a handful in state history that won over 1,000 varsity contests, winning 1,352 games while losing 912 for a percentage of .597 in games played between 1913 and 2000.

Stephen Decatur High School’s basektball records are listed below. SDHS made the Sweet 16 of IHSA basketball tourney eight times, the Elite 8 six times, and the Final Four four times, coming away with one State Championship!!

1958-59      14-10                                                         Coach Gay Kintner

1959-60      26-4    Fourth in State                               Coaches Gay Kintner/John


                           Won Regional & Sectional titles
Beat Danville Schlarman at

                           Decatur Super-Sectional 52-45
Edged Maywood Proviso East in quarterfinals 53-52

Lost to eventual state champion

Chicago Marshall in semifinals 74-62

Lost to West Frankfort in third place game 75-53

1960-61  12-12    Regional Champs                             Coach John Schneiter

Stephen Decatur HS State Champions of 1961-62
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1961-62  31- 4      STATE CHAMPIONS!!                     Coach John Schneiter
Won Regional & Sectional titles
Decatur Super-Sectional –

                           Edged Urbana 41-40

                           Elite 8 Game –
Beat Washington 45-37

                           Semi-Final Game –
Got by Quincy 47-44

                           Championship Game –
Beat Chicago Carver 49-48

1962-63   25-  6    Elite 8 at State                               Coach John Schneiter
Won Regional & Sectional titles
Decatur Super-Sectional –

                           Defeated Watseka 93-73 at
Quarter Final Game –

Lost to Peoria Central 60-45

1963-64   33-  2    3rd Place at State                          Coach Jack Kenny
Won Regional & Sectional titles
Normal Super-Sectional –

                           Beat Arcola 53-37

                           Quarter-Final Game –
Downed Evanston 73-59

                           Semi-Final Game

Lost to Cobden 44-38

Third Place Game –

                           Beat Rock Island Alleman 73-54


1964-65    29- 3   Elite 8 at State                                Coach Jack Kenny
Won Regional & Sectional titles
Normal Super-Sectional

                           Edged Danville 54-53

                           Quarter-Final Game

Lost to Quincy 71-62

1965-66    25-  7   4th Place at State                          Coach Jack Kenny
Won Regional & Sectional titles
Normal Super-Sectional

                           Beat Urbana 68-56

                           Quarter-Final Game
Downed Rockford West 57-44

                           Semi-Final Game

Lost to Harvey Thornton 67-45

Harvey Thornton won State Title.

1966-67    22-10  Sweet 16 Qualifier                           Coach Jack Kenny

                         Regional & Sectional Champs

                         Normal Super-Sectional              

                         Lost to Champaign 36-35

1967-68    26-  5  Regional Champs                            Coach Dean Padgett

1970-71    17-  9  (good record)                                  Coach Dean Padgett

1973-74    15- 10 (good record)                                  Coach Dean Padgett

1977-78    10- 15  Regional Champs                            Coach Rease Binger

1979-80    13- 12                                                         Coach Rease Binger

1980-81    14- 13                                                         Coach Rease Binger

1984-85    18-  9  (good record)                                  Coach Rease Binger

1985-86    21-  9  Class AA Sweet 16                           Coach Rease Binger

                           Regional & Sectional Champions

                           Normal Super-Sectional

                           Lost to Romeoville 65-49                          

1992-93    15- 11                                                         (coach unknown)

1995-96    13- 12                                                         (coach unknown)

1996-97    18-  9  Regional Champs                            (coach unknown)

1999-2000 15-11  Final school year                            Coach Mel Roustio

Thanksgiving Tourney

Consolation Champs

Pekin Holiday Tourney

Consolation Champs

The Last of the “Runnin’ Reds” – Team of 1999-2000
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Photo Taken in 2000 After Last Home Game (A Victory) – Courtesy of David Lee, Jr.

Totals                 12 Regionals Titles
8 Sectionals Titles
8 Sweet 16 Qualifiers
6 Super-Sectional Championships

                            6 Elite Eight Qualifiers
4 Final Four Appearances
2 Fourth Place Finishes
1 Third Place Finish
1 State Championship!!!!
9 Seasons of 20 Wins or More
2 Seasons of 30 Wins or More

                            1 Macomb HS Tournament Championship (1996)


Other tournament highlights for the Runnin’ Reds were submitted by Mark Jurenga:

*The Stephen Decatur boys were often participants in the annual Centralia HS basketball tourney.  Their best results are as follows:

1963 Champion According to the 52nd (1994) Centralia Holiday Tounament program:”Decatur, behind the first three quarters, upset Belleville 52-46.”

1966 Third Place def. Champaign

1967 Champion “Decatur battled Edwardsville and took the championship by a score of 68-63.”

All-Tourney Team Selections:

1963 Jack Sunderlik & Charles Currie

1964 Dave Schotz

1967 Robert Moser

1971 Mike Moore

*Macomb Holiday Tourney Highlights:

1995 3rd place def. Canton 77-74

1996 Champion def. Warsaw 74-54

All-tourney Selections

1995 Tarise Bryson & Michael Wilder

1996 Tarise Bryson (MVP) & Michael Wilder

Tourney Record – Individual

Highest free throw % (Min. 10 attempts)

Tarus Cook 15-15 1995

*Bloomington-Normal State Farm Holiday Classic

1985 – Grand Championship – Normal (Comm.) 56 Stephen Decatur 44

Tournament Records

Most Field Goals, Game: Stephen Decatur 46, 1979

All-Tournament Selections

1985 – Dan Cole, Troy Leonard

1984 – Freddie Outlaw

1980 – Mark Morris


Once the basketballs were put away, the Red and White excelled on the cinder tracks, winding up in the top 10 list of teams at the state meets on one occasion, along with winning two district titles. The Decatur thinclads wound up with a FIFTH place finish in 1971. Individuals representing the school would win the medals on seven occasions.

1967   District Champs                                                         Coach Ed Madix

1968   District Champs                                                         Coach Ed Madix
1969   Mark Stevens         4th Place                 880 Run     Coach Ed Madix


1971   Team Finished FIFTH at STATE Meet                       (coach unknown)
Dave Berg             3rd Place                 1 Mile Run
Jerry Thomas        4th Place                 100 Dash
880 Relay Team    4th Place


1983AA   James Morton    STATE CHAMPION   High Jump
1998AA   Justin Bennett    4th Place                 High Jump
2000AA   James Wills        4th Place                 Shot Put




Maybe not as successful as the boys’ basketball and track teams, Stephen Decatur did field a team on the gridiron from 1957 until 1999, winning many contests before the doors closed. The Runnin’ Reds had some solid seasons and were very competitive, sporting winning records at the end of eleven different seasons.

1958    5-3-1    Coach Jim Tate

1961    5-3-1    Coach Jim Tate

1962    8-1       Coach Jim Tate (excellent record)

1963    7-2       Coach Jim Tate (good record)

1965    7-2       Coach Jim Tate (good record)

1966    5-4       Coach Jim Tate

1967    5-4       Coach Jim Tate

1969    7-2       Coach Jim Tate (good record)

1976    5-4       Coach Frank Chizevsky

1992    7-4      Coach Dwight Simmons

Qualified for IHSA Class 4A Playoffs

Defeated Jerseyville (Jersey) 35-24 in first round

Eliminated by Decatur Eisenhower 35-12 in second round

1993    5-4       Coach Dwight Simmons

1999                 Coach Tim Cruz (last season)

In a 1993 game against Bloomington, Decatur’s Rhassan Smith received a kickoff at his one-yard line and ran all the way to score a touchdown, making for a 99-yard return.

From Mary Berry Badgley:

“In 1976 the Reds broke St. Teresa’s 37-game winning streak which included back-to-back state titles. That was a most memorable game in which several thousand fans packed Piggott Field to watch. It bears a mention in the scheme of memorable moments at SDHS.”



Stephen Decatur High School made a splash on the wrestling mats, taking home a third and two fourth place finishes as a team in the state meet, along with winning five district titles and having four state champions.

An excellent coach for the Runnin’ Reds’ grapplers was Terry SimonsCoach Simons coached several top placers in the State Meet and had two teams finish in the top-four. Scott Morford, Class of 1968, tells us this about Coach Simons:

“You’ll find Coach Simons in 2004 Illinois Wrestling Hall of Fame. He ended his career at Glenbard. He was a great guy who taught me a lot. I wrestled HW in 1968 weighing 177 lbs. I never won, but never was pinned, and was typicallly outweighed by over 50 pounds (my first match was me at 177 lbs. versus Charles Sharp at 264 lbs.!…I lost 9-6)”

1964-65     4th Place in State                                               Coach Terry Simons

                 Ben Cooper         STATE CHAMPION   154 lbs.
Aaron Holloway  STATE CHAMPION   165 lbs.


1965-66     Ben Cooper          2nd Place                165 lbs.   Coach Terry Simons

1966-67     District Champs                                                  Coach Terry Simons
Jim Hunt               6th Place                 112 lbs.


1967-68     3rd Place in State                                               Coach Terry Simons
District Champs
Mark Malley         STATE CHAMPION    145 lbs.
Rusty Cunningham   2nd Place             112 lbs.

1968-69       4th Place in State                                             Coach Terry Simons
District Champs
Mark Malley       STATE CHAMPION   145 lbs.
Rusty Cunningham    3rd Place          112 lbs.


1969-70      Dave Taylor                3rd Place         145 lbs.  Coach Terry Simons
Ty McMillan                 3rd Place         175 lbs.

1972-73      Kevin Simcox              6th Place           98 lbs.
1978-79      District Champs
1979-80      District Champs
1983-84AA  Scott Mitchell              4th Place         132 lbs.


Stephen Decatur High School short netters were worthy representatives for Central Illinois to the state tennis meets, even bringing home a third place finish once, along with two other top-ten finishes. Who says that a school from downstate couldn’t compete with the Chicagoland schools that have usually dominated this event?  The Runnin’ Reds proved this “theory” wrong!

1961        District Champs                                 (coach unknown)
3rd in State
Mike Nolan–3rd in Singles
1962        6th in State                                        (coach unknown)
Kent Ayers & Mike Nolan–2nd in Doubles
1963        8th in State                                        (coach unknown)
Mike Nolan–3rd in Singles
1964         Dick Bowers–5th in Singles


The Runnin’ Red linksters made a name for themselves on the golf course, winning IHSA hardware along the way. It was a team game for Stephen Decatur, as only two individuals were considered finalists for the medalist position at the state finals.

1974        Sectional Champs                                     (coach unknown)
State Qualifier/Finished 6th in State Finals
1976        District Champs                                         (coach unknown)
1982        Regional Champs                                      (coach unknown)
1986        State Qualifier
1988        State Qualifier/Finished 10th in State Finals
1994AA   Andrew Laegeler              6th in State Finals as individual
1998AA   Zachary Hayes                  10th in State Finals asindividual


On three occasions Stephen Decatur won Regional Titles. The Runnin’ Reds made their way to the Elite 8 of the IHSA Baseball Playoffs once.

1967               Regional Champs                            Coach Dale Rutz
1970               Regional Champs                            (coach unknown)
1977  15-10     Regional & Sectional Champs      Coach Mike Buttz
Qualified for State Finals
Beat Nokomis 8-4 in quarterfinals

Lost to Proviso East 4-2 in semifinals

(Proviso East eventual champs)


Success carried over hill and dale for the Stephen Decatur boys’ cross-country team, qualifying for the state meet three times over a four-year period during the late 1960’s. The coach for these teams is unknown.

1965    Qualified for State Finals
1967    Qualified for State Finals
1968    Qualified for State Finals

           Individual Medalist:      Mark Stevens (10th Place)                 


Even the tankmen of Stephen Decatur were successful to an extent, bringing home two individual golds at the state meet.

1987    Ryan Schwanke       3rd Place                   100 backstroke
1988    Ryan Schwanke       2nd Place                  100 backstroke
1993    Kostaki Chiligiris    3rd Place                    200 freestyle
1994    Kostaki Chiligiris    STATE CHAMPION     200 freestyle
Kostaki Chiligiris    STATE CHAMPION      100 freestyle


Just like their male counterparts, Stephen Decatur’s girls’ hoops program made a name for itself. During the 1980’s, one team qualified for the Class AA Sweet Sixteen.

1974-75   0-10    (first season)                    Coach Jean Gift

1980-81 15-10    (good record)                   Coach Jean Gift

1982-83 22-  5    Class AA Sweet 16        Coaches Jean Gift & Brenda Clark
Regional Champions

                         Sectional Champions

                         Normal Super-Sectional

Lost to Peoria Richwoods 72-45

(Peoria Richwoods eventual AA State Champs)

1983-84 17-  6     (good record)                 Coaches Jean Gift & Brenda Clark

1987-88 11-10                                            Coach Brenda Clark


Stephen Decatur had a successful bowling program for the girls that chose to go to the bowling houses, sending two girls to the state finals. Both ladies received medals for placing as one of the top 10 individuals.

1980 Laurie Mintun—7th place

1987 Shelley Lourash—4th place


The Stephen Decatur netters held their own in Central Illinois, winning three sectionals to qualify for the state meet. Unfortunately, the name of the coach for these teams is unknown.

1989    Sectional Champions–Qualified for State Finals
1990    Sectional Champions–Qualified for State Finals
1992    Sectional Champions–Qualified for State Finals


Inside the school, Stephen Decatur’s volleyball squad came away with two trophies from the IHSA in the state tournament, taking a district in the old one-class system, then a AA regional. Win-loss records are unknown.

1982            District Champions                  Coach unknown
1997 17-16   Regional Champions              Coach Nanci Day-LeMaster

From Coach Nanci Day-LeMaster: “Hello, I was the coach for Stephen Decatur High School Volleyball team in 1997. (My) assistant coach was Debi Kwasny and team members were: Lindsay LeMaster, Nikki Kasserman, Christain Keifer, Stephanie Gruenewald, Sheree Gruenewald, Megan Denison, and Alicia Joyner.” 


The Stephen Decatur girls tracksters were just as fortunate as the boys’ team was to have placed high enough to bring home medals from the state track meet, with most of them in relay events.

1982    Susie Hunt           8th Place          100 Dash
1984    Julie Foertsch      6th Place          800 Run
1986    Julie Foertsch      6th Place          800 Run
Julie Foertsch      3rd Place         1600 Run
1987    800 Relay             8th Place
1988    800 Relay             3rd Place
1989    Katrina Green      8th Place          100 Hurdles
400 Relay             6th Place
800 Relay             4th Place
800 Medley Relay 6th Place


One athlete in particular put Stephen Decatur’s girls’ swimming program on the map over a three-year period in the 1990s prior to the school’s closure. Erin Didde brought home four medals from the state finals, confirming that there was a girls’ swim team at the school.

1992    Erin Didde          3rd Place       100 backstroke
1993    Erin Didde          7th Place       100 backstroke
Erin Didde          7th Place        200 freestyle
1994    Erin Didde          8th Place       100 backstroke


—Gay Kintner – won 649 games as basketball coach from 1928-60, including three state titles, for a winning percentage of .708. Also coached football and baseball, with one state Elite Eight qualifier in baseball.

—John Schneiter – won one state title in four-plus years (1960-63) as head basketball coach with a record of 79-24 for a mark of .767. Schneiter later captured a second and third place at the state basketball finals while coaching at Winnetka New Trier East, and had eight teams win the team championship at the IHSA Boys’ Tennis Finals, along with a second place and two third places.

—Jack Kenny – was 109-22 (.832) coaching boys’ basketball from 1963-67, winning a third and a fourth place at the state finals. Later became principal of the school.

—Jim Tate – 69-66-8 in 16 years of coaching football, with eight of those squads finishing with winning records, including 8-1 in 1962.

—Mark Malley – state champion wrestler, winning the 145-pound class in 1968 & 1969.

—Kostaki Chiligiris – won the 100 and 200 freestyle events at the state meet in 1994.

Michael Tate – played three years’ football from 1970-72, believed to have set the school record for tackles at 114 in 1972.


from Jack Sunderlik (class of 1964): The 1963-64 SDHS “Runnin’ Reds” won the Decatur City Tournament and the 1963 Centralia Christmas Holiday Basketball Tournament., along with winning the Decatur City Tournament, and the Big 12 Conference. The team also had a 28 game-winning streak. I played on the ’62 State Champs, the ’63 Elite Eight Team, and the 1964 3rd Place team.

“This year (November 2012) at the Decatur Thanksgiving Tournament, the school district will be honoring the 1963-64 Stephen Decatur Runnin’ Reds Basketball Team that finished 3rd in the IHSA State Tournament. Eleven of the players have already confirmed that they will be there for the presentation. We should have won the Championship that year. I believe that we were the best team in the glorified history of Stephen Decatur H.S. and the city of Decatur. To this day, the game against the (Cobden) Apple Knockers still haunts me and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”

From student Mike Johnson (dated April 1, 2020):

“I don’t see Bob Warnsley mentioned. I recall from my time at SDHS (“64 to ’67) that was he quite the star as well. I don’t have specific dates, but I know he was at least a two-sport starter in basketball (small forward or guard) and football (halfback). He played defense as well (I think) at safety and cornerback. He may run track as well-he was quite fast.”


to tell the story about the history of Stephen Decatur High School, and we need your help. If you have any additional information or pictures, we would be most happy to use them. Please email your information to us at or send it to the address listed below. Special thanks go to longtime Decatur sportswriter Tom McNamara for his help, along former Chicago sportswriter Jim Enright’s book March Madness: The History of High School Basketball in Illinois (1977) for photos and valuable information in preparing this page.

Illinois High School Glory Days
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