China Bull trophy carries on unique tradition of Winneconne-Omro rivalry

Outsiders of Winneconne and Omro can be easily confused.

“A lot of people when they first hear it think it’s a china bowl, like a bowl that we share. No it’s actually a red bull,” Omro head coach Dave Wellhoefer said.

It doesn’t take long to understand the true significance of the rivalry and the this old China Bull trophy.

“It means a lot to the kids. It means a lot to their parents that who have all played in games, those games and parents that understand that,” Winneconne head coach Clint Peters asserted. “It means a huge lot, a whole lot to the people in the community.”

Omro came back to beat Winneconne this year, 14-6.

The famous bull dates back to 1948 when it was randomly found at a teachers convention in an effort to invigorate school spirit between the two sides. The Wolves lead the series 36-28-1 but the legend of the bull and the rivalry carries on through the generations that lived it.

“That’s the thing about the series, the rivalry. We do it with a lot of sharing stories,” Wellhoefer said.

This campfire-esque formula connects the players with those that came before them.

“We could tell stories about the triple overtime and we could talk about the snowbowl,” former Winneconne head coach Bill Vander Velden said. “It’s a great game and it’s a lot of fun.”

“It’s a long tradition,” Omro senior Chris Hess said. “My dad played in it, my uncles played in it so for me to be able to play in something it’s just special to be a part and be able to do something that has been going on for a really long time.”

The bloodlines are strong in this rivalry – even if they cross each other’s city limits – but the respect is even stronger.

When Ed Goss took over at Omro in 1960, he was told that beating Winneconne was of the utmost importance. His son, Tom – who played for Omro but is now an assistant coach for the Wolves – and he knows as well as anybody about this rivalry.

“When it comes up to china bull week, the coaches and the players will be talking about the games of the past, if they won their china bull game or if they lost,” Tom Goss said.

“That’s really where the depth of the rivalry gets noticed,” Wellhoefer said. “When there’s a rivalry that deep and that long there’s not much I have to do to get the kids up and ready for it.”

The game is one of the fiercest in the state of Wisconsin due to the bullish rivalry and also the bullish and obscure trophy that the winner receives.

“If you’re the last team to put a score on there you get to keep that bull forever and ever. That adds to the specialness of the rivalry,” Wellhoefer finished.

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