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For first time, Comstock Park inducts two ‘powerhouse’ teams into Hall of Fame

Comstock Park — Terry Pahl, a 1974 Comstock Park graduate, admits that his senior year was an incredible chapter in his life.

It was that year the wrestling team brought home the Class C state title.

“By the time we got to the state finals, we had already won the state championship, so it really did not matter if we won or lost,” Pahl said, explaining that the number of points the team had going into the state tournament assured the team it had the title. 

“We sent eight of our 12 team members to state, which is unusual,” said Pahl, who was co-captain and the team MVP. “Of those who went to state, we had five top finishers in the tournament. So about half of the team received state medals.”

During Comstock Park’s upcoming homecoming celebration, the 1973-1974 wrestling team and the 1950 football team will be the school’s first teams inducted into the CPHS Athletic Hall of Fame, along with three individual athletes. The event is planned for today, Oct. 11 at Scott Lake Golf Center.

“It is a nice honor,” Pahl said, adding he planned to be at the event. “It is nice to see the team be recognized since it is something that has not been done since in Comstock Park.”

‘We Certainly Had Fun’

Since its inception 30 years ago, the CPHS Athletic Hall of Fame has always recognized individual athletes. Because of its 30th anniversary, and since other Halls of Fame include team recognition, the committee decided to induct a team as part of its celebration with plans to include a team every year, said Hall of Fame committee member Gary Holland. 

Committee members researched possible teams and determined that both the 1950 football team and the 1973-1974 wrestling squad deserved to be inducted. 

That football team was one of the Comstock Park teams on record to be league champions, said Holland, who did the research on the team.

“The original reason we were considering the team is that in the 1951 yearbook, it states they had an undefeated season,” Holland said. However, he added, “I was online one day and found a site with statewide football scores, which reported that they had lost one game.”

Still, because the team was champion of the Kent-Ottawa League, outscoring their opponents 125-25, the committee felt the group should be recognized, Holland said. In fact, the Jansen award now given to the top all-around senior male athlete was named after team member Stan Jansen, who later died in the Korean War.

Holland noted that four of the members of the team are in CPHS Athletic Hall of Fame: Dan Matthews, Lee Barnett, Don Gohn and Don Wier.

“We had a great team,” said Matthews, one of the surviving team members who was a sophomore that year. “Most of our games were won easily but we had a few close games. We certainly had fun.” 

Matthews noted that one of the team’s biggest highlights was beating Rockford in the team’s first game of the season.

“They have always been bigger than us,” said Matthews, who added that he scored his first touchdown against Rockford. “We played three games before anyone scored any points against us.” 

‘An Incredible Year’ for Wrestling 

Pahl had similar superlatives about the 1973-74 wrestling team. The team had 11 of its 12 members move on into district and regional conferences with at times it appearing that it was Comstock Park against the best wrestlers from across the state.

Pahl, who was inducted into the CP Hall of Fame as an individual athlete in 1999, acknowledged that wrestling has changed over the years, but said the accomplishment of the team is amazing.

The 1974 Comstock Park wrestling team won the league, district, regional and Class C state championships (courtesy)

“We were a powerhouse,” Pahl said. “It was an incredible year for West Michigan in wrestling, as Grandville was runner-up in Class A and West Catholic was runner-up in Class B.

“We had eight (Comstock Park wrestling team) members at the state conference, which is something you do not see with today’s powerhouses of Rockford and Lowell.”

The Hall of Fame includes more than 90 athletes. This year three more individual athletes will be inducted: 

  • Ryan Schall, who set the school record for basketball with 1,051 points, and set state records in free throws made and attempted;
  • Nichole (Milanowski) Weatherhead, who helped the softball team to 2007 conference, district, and title wins as well as state runners-up;
  • Stephanie (Milanowski) McCarthy, who helped the softball team win 2009 conference, district and regional titles and state runners-up.

Plaques for the teams and individuals will be placed on the Hall of Fame wall, which will be located in the athletic hallway. The district is working on display cases, Holland said. A new electronic information board in the school’s main hallway also will provide information on all the inductees.

Read more from Comstock Park: 
Familiar faces lead Comstock Park High School
Pinch pots penguins, pumpkins & more

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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