Toluca (population 1,339) is located in north central Illinois in east central Marshall County. The town is located on Illinois Route 117 just south of Illinois Route 17. The AT & SF Railroad runs through town as does the North Branch of the Crow Creek. The town is located about 30 miles northeast of Peoria (as the crow flies).
The town continued to flourish until 1924, when the coal mines closed. In that one year hundreds of families left town looking for work. Though two hills, known as “The Jumbos,” in Toluca remain as reminders of the town’s coal mining past, the population has declined to a steady 1,400 for the past few decades. Those from Toluca consider the hills a land mark they are proud of, just like two restaurants in town, Mona’s and Capponi’s, which were opened by the Bernardi family in the 1930’s.
The residents of Toluca immediately recognized a need for higher education and established a high school in 1893. The first graduating class for THS was the Class of 1897. The school prospered and excelled in many areas for nearly 100 years.
In the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, consolidation talks with nearby Minonk-Dana-Rutland and Wenona surfaced. The effort became a reality in 1993 when Toluca High was deactivated and the Fieldcrest School System was born. The high school remained in Minonk. Toluca residents built a “new” high school building in 1922, which served the school district as Toluca High until its closure in 1993. The Toluca High School building now serves as the Fieldcrest West Elementary and Middle School.
Coming Soon two volume History Books of The Boy’s Basketball of Toluca High School. This 2 volume history of the Wildcats is packed with group, individual and action photographs and many articles from 1923 to the closing of Toluca High School in 1992. There will a special pricing if both volume’s are purchased at the same time. Don’t delay order your books today by emailing Terri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(This song is repeated twice before you say Toluca)
Toluca HS Gymnasium
The Toluca High School Wildcats have a VERY long and storied history in Illinois High School athletics. The boys basketball program was one of the premier programs in northern Illinois in the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s. The boys’ track team had some real nice success in the 1920s. Showing that they were well-rounded athletes, the baseball teams at Toluca also had some very good teams. Though there is no mention of girl’s athletics on the IHSA web site (www.ihsa.org) we are confident there were many competitive teams forged by the Lady Wildcats as well. Toluca competed in the Tri-County Conference throughout its existence. If you have any information on the athletic program at Toluca you would like to share please e-mail us at email@example.com.
1983-84 Super Sectional – Pre-Game
#42 Todd Rankin, Bernard Beoletti (background), Coach Chuck Rolinski, Mike DeRubeis
No reason to wait here. The boys’ basketball program at Toluca High was extremely strong for many years. For over seven decades, the Wildcats consistently had teams vying for IHSA hardware. Even during the one-class system in Illinois, Toluca had to be reckoned with by the “big boys.” Were it not for a couple of breaks and an unfortunate match-up, Toluca would have brought home some hardware from the big tournament.
Two coaches define the incredible success attained by the Toluca Wildcats on the hardwood. First came Anton J. (Tony) Kresl, who coached the “Cats” from 1932-33 to 1946-47. During his 15-year tenure at Toluca, Kresl’s teams had eight 20+ win seasons (including three seasons of 27 wins) and brought home four Regional titles. His overall record of 294-122 rank him second on Toluca’s all-time list. His teams also won five consecutive Tri-County Conference titles from 1941 – 1945. He led the boys of 1944-45 to the school’s first Sectional Championship game (and a top-32 team finish). Great job Coach Kresl and the boys of the 1930’s and 1940’s.
The next name is known throughout the Illinois High School basketball coaching circles. Coach Chuck Rolinski was one of the premier coaches in northern Illinois during his career. His accomplishments are well-written about by Toluca fan David Gallianetti:
“Without question, the school’s most well-known coach was state coaching legend Chuck Rolinski, a Toluca native who was named athletic director, basketball coach, and baseball coach in 1956. When he retired folowing the 1987-88 season, his 32-year basketball career ended with a 649-262 record, then good for 7th on the all-time wins list. Coach Rolinski is considered the “father” of the two-class Illinois state basketball tournament, as he was the driving force behind the creation of two classes.
Toluca won 59 major championships under Rolinski. Included were 16 Tri-County Conference titles, 12 Regional titles, and three Sectional titles which resulted in three Sweet 16 appearances. Rolinski, an Illinois State University graduate, and his wife, Anita, still reside in Toluca. Coach Rolinski serves the Illinois Basketball Coach’s Association as its secretary-treasurer. He is a member of the ISU, IBCA, and Greater Peoria Area Halls of Fame.”
The former Toluca High School gymnasium (current Fieldcrest West Grade School gym) is named Chuck Rolinski Gymnasium (see photos below).
Long game – One side-story involving the Toluca High basketball program involves the Freshman/Sophomore team. Playing their arch-rivals Wenona in February of 1930, the “Wildkits” were involved in one of the longest games in high school history. The game went 10 overtimes before Wenona prevailed 26-22. Some coverage about the game was even received on a national level!
The INCREDIBLE small-town high school successes of the Toluca High School Wildcats basketball program, according to the IHSA web site, are listed below.
1920-21 Marshall Co. Tourney Champions Coach Swanson
Title Game lost to Hoopeston-East Lynn 51-48 (O/T)
Hoopeston-East Lynn lost to Mt. Pulaski in Elite 8 Rd.
Mt. Pulaski placed 2nd in IHSA State Tourney
Toluca Wildcats 1983-84
Submitted by Terri & Mark Taylor (www.tntimages.com)
1984-85 16-11 Roanoke Class A Regional Runner-Up Coach Chuck Rolinski
1st Rd Beat Low Point-Washburn 61-60 (O/T)
Semi-Final Beat El Paso 48-47 (O/T)
Title Game lost to Roanoke-Benson 59-57
1985-86 19- 7 Eureka Class A Regional Tourney Coach Chuck Rolinski
1st Rd Beat Low Point-Washburn 67-36
Semi-Final lost to Roanoke-Benson 54-45
Roanoke-Benson beat El Paso in title game
1986-87 18- 7 Minonk Class A Regional Tourney Coach Chuck Rolinski
Tri-County Tourney Champs
Semi-Final lost to Minonk-Dana-Rutland 60-53
M-D-R beat Gridley in title game
1987-88 18- 8 Wenona Class A Regional Tourney Coach Chuck Rolinski
Tri-County Tourney Runner-Ups
Wenona Regional Scores
1st Rd Beat Minonk-Dana-Rutland 58-39
Semi-Final lost to Mid-County 62-61 (O/T)
Flanagan beat Mid-County in title game
1988-89 1-21 Varna Class A Regional Tourney Coach Chuck Rolinski
1st Rd lost to Minonk-Dana-Rutland 56-47
Mid-County beat Flanagan in title game
1989-90 14-10 Minonk Class A Regional Tourney Coach Chuck Rolinski
1st Rd lost to Mid-County 56-47
Gridley beat Minonk in title game
1990-91 15-10 Wenona Class A Regional Tourney Coach Kim Whittington
Tri-County Tourney Runner-Up
Wenona Regional Scores
1st Rd lost to Flanagan 75-65
Flanagan beat Low Point-Washburn in title game
1991-92 9-14 Varna Class A Regional Tourney Coach Kim Whittington
*1st Rd lost to Gridley 83-52
Flanagan beat Mid-County in title game
*Final game for Toluca High School boys basketball program. Became part of the Fieldcrest School District in the summer of 1992.
Incredible Job Toluca High School boys basketball program!!
Toluca High School Gym
Toluca High School
Chuck Rolinski Gymnasium
Toluca High School girls basketball got its start like many high school girls teams in the early 1900s. However, in the late 19-teens the IHSA dropped girls basketball. Girls basketball was not reinstated by the IHSA until 1974. Below is a photo of the Toluca High School girls basketball team of 1913-14. If you have any information about the girls basketball program please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toluca HS Girls Basketball Team of 1913-14
Submitted by Bruce Firchau
Boys Track & Field
The Toluca Wildcats of the early 1920’s had two athletes who brought the program fame on a state-wide level. One athlete, Joe “Joe Day” Dicenzo, won two gold medals in consecutive seasons to lead the Toluca thinclads to consecutive top-ten finishes at the State “B” Track Meet. The Wildcat coach of the 1921, ’22, and ’23 teams was Ed Foley. One other athlete, with only a last name of Hoswell, also brought home a medal (3rd Place) in 1921. The track accomplishments of Toluca High School on a State Meet level are listed below.
1920-21 ?? Hoswell 50 Yard Dash 3rd Place
1921-22 Team Placed 4TH Overall at the State “B” Track Meet Coach Ed Foley
Joe “Joe Day” Dicenzo 50 Yard Dash STATE CHAMPION!!
Joe “Joe Day” Dicenzo 100 Yard Dash STATE CHAMPION!!
Final Team Standings
1.) Forrest HS 19.5
2.) Elmwood HS 15.2
3.) Greenfield HS 12
4.) TOLUCA HIGH SCHOOL 10
5.) Monticello HS 9
1922-23 Team Finished 6TH Overall at the State “B” Track Meet Coach Ed Foley
Joe Dicenzo 50 Yard Dash STATE CHAMPION!!
Joe Dicenzo 100 Yard Dash STATE CHAMPION!!
Final Team Standings
1.) White Hall HS 20.2
2.) Bridgeport HS 15.5
3.) Hinsdale HS 15
4.) Carlinville HS 12
5.) Havana HS 11
6.) TOLUCA HIGH SCHOOL 10
Olney HS, Pickneyville HS, and Wheaton HS
all tied for 6th with 10 points also.
Toluca High School
The Toluca High School boys were a multi-talented bunch and proved this on the baseball diamond. They won two District Titles and two Regional Titles. It was even said they at one point won eight consecutive Tri-County Conference Championships, going an incredible 72-1 during that span. The years of the State winners are listed below. Unfortunately, the team records of these and other great Toluca baseball teams are not available at this time.
Toluca Baseball Team – Conference Champs
Courtesy of Mark & Terri Taylor (www.tntimages.com)
Toluca HS Baseball Team of the 1950s (8 – 3)
Chuck Rolinski Batting Average – ,558 !! Photo Courtesy of Terri & Mark Taylor (www.tntimages.com)
1941-42 District Champions Coach Anton J. Kresl
Lost to Streator in the Sectional
1949-50 District Champions Coach Milo Watson
1958-59 Regional Champions Coach Chuck Rolinski
1969-70 Conference Champions Coach Chuck Rolinski
1981-82 Regional Champions Coach Chuck Rolinski
Toluca Baseball Team of 1970 – Conference Champs
Courtesy of TnT Images – Mark & Terri Taylor (www.thtimages.com)
The following articles were sent to us by Terri and Mark Clark:
“1951 Fall Baseball Season – The Toluca Wildcats breezed through their 7 game schedule without a defeat, to win the Tri County Championship. The 1st game was at Wenona. The Wildcats 9 scored 31 runs before Wenona in the last inning could get a run across. Final score 31-4. The following game was with Sparland at home. The local boys weren’t hitting well but managed to pull through a 5-3 Victory. The next game was at Lostant & the boys got back in the stride to roll over the opposition 18-6. The Henry team was the next victim, with Joe Gabrick, the regular hurler, pitching a fine 7 hit game. Final score 13-5. Our next game was at Tonica. The boys played their usual good brand of baseball & won 10-5. At Swaney, Gabrick turned in a beautiful game. He gave up 4 hits, 5 walks & struck out 12 men. It was another massacre 16-1. The final game was against the highly touted Hopkins of Granville team. Our boys had no trouble at the plate & turned in some real fielding gems that were worthy of more experienced teams. They took the championship 16-2. A very successful season for a fine bunch of ball playes.
Courtesy of TnT Images
Terri & Mark Taylor
This article appeared in the Toluca Star Herald, Volume 62, No. 41, Thursday, Oct. 10, 1957 –
Toluca won the Tri County baseball for the 2nd straight year. Toluca became the 1st team in history of the Tri County baseball league to go undefeated for 2 straight seasons. On Monday, Oct. 7 the Hornets of Hopkins forfeited the game to Toluca . Their winning streak in Tri County baseball now stretches to 18 games in a row. The 18 games in a row can be contributed to many different reasons. Hitting & pitching are the 2 main reasons. The hard hitting Wildcats in the 1957 season collected 106 runs & 97 hits while the pitchers allowed 12 runs & only 21 hits. The team batting average is a fantastic .371 as the Wildcats had 7 starters that had batting average of over .350. The scores of the 56 & 57 seasons follow. 1956 – Toluca 14, Hopkins 5 – Toluca 5, Mid County 0 – Toluca 5, Tonica 0 – Toluca 14, Henry 1 – Toluca 14, Lostant 0 – Toluca 15, Wenona 1 – Toluca 17, Sparland 1 – Toluca 3, Washburn 1 – Toluca 4, Swaney 3 – 1957: Toluca 6, Mid County 0 – Toluca 17, Wenona 4 – Toluca 11, Tonica 0 – Toluca 12, Henry 6 – Toluca 13, Sparland 0 – Toluca 11, Washburn 1 – Toluca 13, Swaney 1 – Toluca 9, Hopkins 0 (Forfeit) – Toluca Baseball Batting Averages: Mariotti, Jim .379 – Mariotti, Jack .467 – Daghe, Joe .367 – Baker, Bill .440 – Burroughs, John .276 – Schubert, Jeff .391 – Fengolia, Chuck .324 – Guderjan, Jerry .091 – Fredericks, Don .565 – Hedrick, Chuck .300 – Rolinski, Jerry .600 – Imm, Ray .111 – Clark, Roger, Hemenway, Jerome & Haig, Terry all .000 & Rankin, Roger .250.”
Noteable Alumni / People
*The following players were named to the Illinois All-State Basketball Team:
Roger Rankin (1960)
Tom Gardner (1961 & 62)
John Bernardi (1963)
Tony Vignali (1964)
Bob Pescitelli (1966)
Ray Heck (1969) – Ray Heck continued his athletic career at Lakeland College in Wisconsin
where he was named to the NAIA All-American Basketball Team.
Mike Rinker (1973)
Tom Fenoglia (1984)
Todd Rankin (1984)
Erin Barisch (1988)
*Coach Chuck Rolinski – Toluca Basketball Coach 1956-57 through 1987-88
Member Illinois Basktball Coaches Association Hall of Fame
Member Illinois State University Hall of Fame
Member Greater Peoria Area Hall of Fame
Member Bloomington – Normal Officials Assoc. Hall of Fame
*B.H. “Duffy” Bass (Class of 1942) – Played on the basketball and baseball teams of the early 1940’s, Duffy went on to become the Head Baseball Coach at Illinois State University, leading the 1969 Redbirds to the college division championship.
Need More Information
If you have any further information regarding the Toluca High School Wildcats and especially the Lady Wildcats’ successes, please send us an e-mail. You can e-mail photos and information to us at email@example.com. You can also write to us at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il. 60631
1983-84 Super-Sectional vs. Hoopeston-East Lynn
Rankin vs. H.E.L.’s Dave Busch H.E.L.’s Thad Matta (current Ohio State head coach) in background