Witt High School “Speedboys/Speedgirls”

Witt High School
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Witt, Illinois

The History of Witt High School

Witt (population 991) is located in northeastern Montgomery County in south-central Illinois. Illinois Route 16 and the Conrail Railroad run side by side on an angle through the center of town. A branch of the East Fork of the Shoal Creek flows through the north side of Witt. For reference sake, Witt is about 40 miles southeast of Springfield. A nice website for information on the town of Witt was provided to us by Jim Miller and is located at the web address of www.wittillinois.com .

Witt has a long and storied history of supporting education in its town. The Witt High School building pictured above served the children of Witt from 1906 (the year it was built) until the closing of the high school in 1997. Witt High School was originally established as a three year high school in 1906 but added a fourth year by 1909, which made the first graduating four-year class from Witt High was the class of 1910. Declining enrollment and finances finally took their toll and Witt HS was deactivated. Upon the high school’s closure, the kids of Witt are now educated as part of the Hillsboro School System.

A nice history of the Witt School system can be found at the web address of http://www.hillsboroschools.net/schools/witt05/history.htm .

Our good friend Phil Shadid shared with us this sad bit of informatino regarding the Witt School building as see in the Springfield State Journal-Register, March 4, 2010:

“The Hillsboro School District will close Witt Elementary School (the former high school) at the end of the 2010 school year. Budget problems have necessitated the closing of the school, which in 2010 had only 78 students and six teachers.  Those students affected by the closing will attend school at either Coffeen Elementary or Hillsboro Elementary. The Witt school may possibly be offered for sale.”

Witt High School Quick Facts

Year opened:               1906

First graduating class:  1910

Year closed:                1997

School nickname:         Speedboys / Speedgirls

School colors:              Royal Blue & White

School Fight Song:       We’re Loyal To You, Witt High School

(Words unavailable…Sung to University of Illinois Fight song tune –                                                click the play button below-left ) 

Glenn Hobbie
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Chicago Cub – Former “Speedboy” – Class of 1954


Witt High School earned its nickname, the “Speedboys”, because of their style of playing boys basketball in the 1920s.  The style paid off and will be written about below.  Witt competed in the Egyptian -Illini Conference and later the Central Illinois Conference.  Witt High School offered baseball, basketball, cross-country, and track for the boys and softball, basketball, cross-country, and volleyball for the girls.

The sports that are written about on the IHSA web site are written about here below.  If you have more information regarding the Witt athletic successes please send us the information via e-mail.

Boys Basketball

The Witt High School Speedboys of 1927-28 were the classic reason for the one-class system. The team brought home a Third Place trophy from the State Tournament!   The Speedboys, led by Coach Joseph Kilpatrick (in his only season at the school), beat Streator High School in the quarter finals before losing to Canton (eventual State Champion) by 2 points.  The Speedboys came back with a win in the third place game over Griggsville (also on this site).  The Speedboys came back the next year (1928-29) under Coach Lawrence Fornecker to make an ElIte Eight appearance before losing to Peoria Central High School.

The Witt High School boys basketball program had many great seasons through 1960. In fact the Speedboys won an additional 12 District titles besides the great seasons listed above.  There were some tough years to follow though as the team did not sport a winning record again until the 1988 season.  The best of the Witt Speedboys bassketball successes are listed below.  Coaches names and team records are posted when available.

1920-21               Montgomery County Tourney (2nd Place)

Championship- Hillsboro 25 Witt 10

1922-23               Montgomery County Tourney (2nd Place)

Championship- Hillsboro 24 Witt 15

1925-26    21 – 6   District Champions                            Coaches name unavailable

Montgomery County Tourney (2nd Place)

Championship- Hillsboro 33 Witt 18

1926-27              Montgomery County Tourney (2nd Place)

Championship- Hillsboro 23 Witt 21

1927-28    37 – 2   DIstrict Champs                                 Coach Joseph Kilpatrick

                           Montgomery County Tourney Champs

                           Beat  Hillsboro 30 – 20

                           Sectional Champs

                           (Beat Collinsville in 2nd Rd. 40-18)

                           Placed Third In The State Tournament

                           Quarter-Finals – Witt  33   –   Streator  31  (O/T)

                           Semi-Finals    –  Witt  17   –   Canton   19  (Canton State Champs)

                           Third Place     –  Witt  40   –   Griggsville 26

1928-29   31 – 6    District Champs                                 Coach Lawrence Fornecker

                           Sectional Champions

                           Elite Eight Finalists

                           Quarter-Final  –   Witt  18  –  Peoria Central  27

1929-30                District Champions

1930-31                District Champions

                            Lost 2nd Rd. Sectional Game to

Collinsville 32 – 23

1938-39                District Champions

                            Regional Champions

Lost to Collinsville in 2nd Rd.

of Sectional 43 – 38


1941-42                District Champions

1943-44                District Champions

1944-45                District Champions

1945-46                District Champions

1946-47                District Champions

1950-51                District Champions

1951-52                District Champions

1952-53                District Champions

1959-60  19 – 7      (good record)

1987-88  16 – 12                                                          Coach Brian Pesko

1989-90  17 – 7      (good record)                                   Coach Brian Pesko

1990-91  14 – 11                                                          Coach Joey Ohnesorge

1994-95  19 – 9      (good record)                                   Coach Tom Kimball

*The teams of 1926, 1928, and 1939 were also champions of the Montgomery County Basketball Tournament. 

*The gymnasium earned a title as a “cracker box” in that the end lines were only 8 inches from the walls requiring the placing of restraining lines in addition to the out-of-bounds lines.

*The 1979-80 team played in 5 overtime games during the season, winning one of them.

Girls Volleyball

The Witt High School Speedgirls volleyball program is the only other sport listed on the IHSA web site which can be researched. The girls had a strong head coach in Pat Powers who served from 1976 – 1988. The best three seasons under Coach Powers leadership are listed below.

1985-86     15 – 9         Coach Pat Powers

1986-87     18 – 7         Coach Pat Powers

1987-88     17 – 7         Coach Pat Powers

Other Sports Information Needed

If you can add any information regarding the cross-country, baseball, softball, and track programs at Witt High School, please drop us an e-mail.

Great Players

*Paul Chervinko, class of 1928 and a player on the Third Place winners, went to great baseball success, even playing for a time with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937-38.

*Glen Hobbie, class of 1954, was a star pitcher and played seven seasons of professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, establishing record of 16 – 13 in 1959.

Need More Information

As always, we are anxious to add more information regarding the town and school history of Witt. If you have any information or photos you would like to add to the site you can e-mail them to us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net. You can also write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Illinois  60631


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