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Iowa History Daily: April 14 - Lon Olejniczak Dominates

Iowa History Daily: On April 14, 1978, Decorah’s Lon Olejniczak captured the first of 28 wins in a record-setting season on the mound for the Vikings. A standout athlete in both baseball and football, Olejniczak went on to play both sports at the University of Iowa.

Olejniczak entered his junior season ready to contribute on the mound, at shortstop, and in the batter’s box. Reeling off 28 straight wins before falling to Mason City in a substate game, Olejniczak struck out 221 batters in 176 innings while posting an 0.70 ERA. At the plate, the First Team All-State selection hit .458 with 71 runs batted in. The following year as a senior he posted another First Team All-State Performance with a 21-7 record on the mound.

Success continued into the fall of 1978 for Olejniczak and the Vikings. The senior quarterback helped guide Decorah to a perfect regular season on the gridiron while completing 101 of 179 passes for 1,403 yards and 14 touchdowns. Also playing defense and special teams, Olejniczak further added to the successful Viking season by intercepting four passes, averaging 33.6 yards per punt, and knocking in four field goals. Olejniczak committed to play both baseball and football at Iowa during February 1979.

At Iowa, Olejniczak’s athleticism continued to help him find his way on the field. He played quarterback, kicker, punter, wide receiver, defensive back, linebacker, and tight end. Olejniczak kicked the decisive 35-yard field goal in a huge upset over seventh-ranked Nebraska in 1981. 

Devastating leg and foot injuries in 1981 and 1983 left many wondering if Olejniczak might hang up his spikes for good, but he fought through to return to both the baseball and football fields to finish out his career. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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