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Paynesville Press - September 20, 2006

LeClaire "Bud" Olsen, Class of 1941

By Michael Jacobson

LeClaire "Bud" Olsen, Class of 1941, led the Bulldogs to their only two district championships in basketball in 1940 and 1941 and earned 14 letters during his PHS athletic career.

He earned four letters in basketball in high school, four in football, three in track, and three in baseball.

Bud Olsen During his sophomore basketball season, in March 1939, the Dogs lost to Willmar 38-36 in the district final, with Olsen being the second-leading scorer for PHS with 16 points in two games and the third-leading scorer in the district tournament.

In 1940, he led the Dogs to their first District 20 championship. He scored 13 points in their quarterfinal against Litchfield, a 32-16 win, poured in 25 points in the semifinals as they defeated Grove City 46-25; and was the only player to reach double figures in scoring in the final, tallying 12 points as the Dogs beat Willmar 25-20.

He scored 50 points in three district tournament games that year to be the leading scorer in the tournament. (Next was a Willmar player with 37 points. The next Paynesville player scored 15 points.)

The Dogs (23-5) lost two games at the region tourney at the University of Minnesota - 20-14 to Waconia and 39-29 to St. Cloud Tech - but Olsen was named to the all-regional team, scoring 12 points in two games.

The 6' 3" center led the Dogs to another District 20 title in 1941, his senior season. He scored 17 points as the Dogs beat Willmar 46-32 and 21 points as they beat Litchfield 47-32 in the final.

At regions, the Dogs lost to Minneapolis Washburne 43-32 in the Region 5 semifinals, but they rebounded to beat St. Cloud Tech 36-31 and finish third. Olsen scored 27 points in two games of regional play in Minneapolis, leading the tournament in scoring, and was again named to the all-regional team.

In football, Olsen played halfback, as well as defense, starring for the Bulldogs. "Bud OlsenŠwas easily the outstanding man on the field," wrote the Press during his junior football season.

After the Dogs defeated a highly-touted Cokato football team his senior season by the score 13-6, the Press was even more lavish in praise: "And Olsen, well, he's passing the best ever, running hard, kicking swell, and in other words playing the game of his life."

In baseball, Olsen pitched a one-hitter for the Dogs his senior year and hit clean-up. He also played town team baseball for two years.

He also ran track in the spring. At one home triangular meet, he won two events (shot put and broad jump), placed second in four events, and third in two events. He set a district record in the discus his senior year (120' 1/2") that was later broken by his brother Bob Olsen in 1946.

Bud played one year at Macalester College, helping the freshman team win 12 of 13 games, with their only loss coming after he had been moved to the varsity. He also pitched a couple no-hitters that spring for Macalester.

The next year he transferred to the University of Minnesota, where he intended to play football and to study dentistry.

In the November 1942, however, Bud enlisted in the U.S. Naval Air Corps. He was killed in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 2, 1944, during World War II, when his plane hit an aircraft carrier during a landing attempt, crashed into the water, and sank within seconds.

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