BORN: NOVEMBER 1, 1944, LANSING, MI
Williamston native, Gaffner brought national acclaim to the Muskegon
Community College wrestling program, serving as the school’s wrestling coach
for more than 20 years. Captain of the Central Michigan University
wrestling team for two years, Gaffner coached for five years at Union City
High School, then moved to Spring Lake High School for a season.
In 1974, Gaffner took over the MCC wrestling program. Renowned for his organization skills, he attracted wrestlers from all over the Midwest and built the Jayhawks into a consistent national power. In 23 seasons at the helm, Gaffner compiled an overall record of 304-73-3, including 13 National Junior College Athletic Association Region XXII titles and six Michigan Community College Athletic Association crowns.
A member of the National Junior College Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Michigan Coaches’ Wrestling Association Hall of Fame, he coached seven national champions while at MCC - Tim McDonald (1974), Russ Swanson (1977) Tim Smelser (1980), Jeff Steele (1986), Marshall Foster (1996), Claudell Ruffin (1998) and Anton Hail (2000). His teams finished in the Top 10 in National Junior College Championship competition on 10 occasions, while finishing as runner-up to the crown in 1980.
A former president of the National Junior College Wrestling Association, Gaffner retired from coaching in 2000.
BORN: APRIL 6,1942, MUSKEGON, MI
Nelson was a different kind of big man for Central Michigan University and the Muskegon
Panthers back in the 1960s. In an era when tall players stayed inside with
their backs to the basket, the 6-foot-3 Nelson was known for his agility,
ball-handling and deadly outside shooting touch.
Nelson’s cage skills first started getting noticed when he was as a member of the Muskegon High School basketball team in the late 1950s. Under the guidance of Coach Ed Hager, Nelson earned all-state honors. He went on to CMU where he became one of the greatest players in the school’s history. He led the Chippewas in scoring in 1963 (18.0) and 1964 (15.4), and in rebounding from 1961 to 1963.
When he left CMU, Nelson held school records for points, rebounds, rebounding average, free-throw percentage and field goals made.
But his hard court days did not end there. Nelson was a four-year star for the Muskegon Panthers and led the team to a North American Basketball League championship. He played with the Detroit Pistons during the 1968 exhibition season and served two years as player/coach of the Grand Rapids Tackers.
Nelson, who worked as the golf pro and manager at Lincoln Golf Club for many years, later coached at several area schools, including Holton and North Muskegon.
Grand Haven High School
BASEBALL TEAMS OF 1960-61
Solid pitching, a strong mental game, and aggressive hitting and base running were trademarks of the Grand Haven baseball squads of the early 1960s. These traits, combined with stellar coaching; a disciplined, fiercely competitive group of ballplayers; and a little luck allowed these Buccaneer squads to win a state record of 56 games in a row.
Nobody realized state history was getting started when Grand Haven beat archrival Muskegon 6-2 back on April 19, 1960. The Bucs followed that with 20 more victories to close out the 1960 season at 24-1. Led by Coach Steve Sluka, himself a 1993 Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame inductee, and key players like first baseman Larry Kieft, shortstop John Sluka, catcher Bob Kent and pitchers Doug VanderWall and Roger Wheeler, the Buccaneers pieced together a perfect 31-0 campaign in 1961. The Buccaneers opened the 1962 season with four more wins to break the state record for consecutive victories, which was previously held by Muskegon High School. Ironically, it was Grand Haven that ended the Big Red’s streak at 55 straight wins in 1945. Other players who made big contributions to “The Streak” were Mike Secory, George Peck, Jack Braak, Gary Holtzclaw and Dave Osbeck.
Team members were Jerry Alger, Ed Brown Jr., Terry Carlson, Robert Bosserdet, Bill Drent, Tom DeWitt, Nick Fant, Mike Fortino, Tim Fuller, Chuck Haugen, Victor Geisler, Terry Hill, Larry Prelesnik, Jul Scheffers, David Suchecki, Ron Tipsword, Bob Van Bemmelen, John Van Dyke, Bill Van Horssen, Terry VanderVeen, Paul Fortino, Floyd Whelpley, Steve Brown, Bob Edlund, Larry Christianson, Bob Kent, John Sluka, Doug VanderWall, Roger Wheeler, Mike Secory, George Peck, Jack Braak, Gary Holtzclaw, Dave Osbeck and Coach Steve Sluka.