As Fenton High School changed its current building in the fall of 1969, some other changes were happening in terms of the sports scene.
In 1968 the Flint Metro League came into existence, and is now the area’s most consistent athletic prep school league.
But what about Fenton sports? What were the strongest sports as the Tigers moved into their new gym? Which ones lagged a bit behind. How about the development of girls’ sports?
What we will be doing — with the aid of several info boxes — is give people a feel of what it was like to be a Fenton sports fan during this era.
The budding of a state super-power was just beginning when the Fenton students entered the new high school in the fall of 1969.
The previous winter, Fenton High School hosted the first-ever Metro League Wrestling Tournament, taking second to Carman-Ainsworth, losing by five slim points. Six Tigers made it into the finals while Marv Pushman (165) and Dan Kurt (Hwt) earned league titles with pinfall wins in their title matches.
Pushman would go on win a Class B state title in his weight class. The building of wrestling coach Duane Wolfert’s impressive program had begun.
Fenton would go on to win three straight league titles, starting with 1971, and would go on to win 16 league titles in his tenure as coach.
They had their share of success at the state level as well, earning Class B state runner-up honors in 1971 and team state championships in 1972 and 1973 as Fenton’s new school enjoyed its first years. Mark Wiesen and Joseph Varney won individual state championships in 1972 while Randall Chene won one in 1973.
FENTON BOYS ATHLETICS
When the Tigers were moving into the new school, the football team was in between two strong eras.
From 1959 until 1967, the Tigers never lost more than two games during a season, earning perfect 9-0 marks in 1966 and 1967. However, in 1968, the Tigers fell to 5-4, and then dropped to 3-6 during the fall of 1969.
Coach Mark Wegner would eventually get the Tigers back to the top of the Metro League mountain.
In 1970, Fenton improved to 5-4 overall. Some of the top players on that team were co-captain and center Tom Vincent, end Craig Lintz, running back Terry Sizemore, defensive lineman Scott Foley and defensive back Duff Hay.
By 1971 the Tigers were dropped back to a 3-5-1 record, but were a second-place team with a 2-2-1 record in Metro action.
The 1972 team got Fenton back to the top of the standings, as the Tigers ended in a three-way tie atop the Metro Mountain with Carman-Ainsworth and Swartz Creek, with 5-1 league marks. Fenton finished 6-3 overall. Some of the key players on that league championship team were running back Scott Hofstetter, lineman Mark Wiesen, defensive end Ken Avery and defensive back Stewart Grove.
The Tigers would go on a nice run of seasons, earning winning records in 17 of 19 seasons.
Led by coach LeRoy Decker, the Tigers had a strong hoops team during the high school transition years.
Coming to Fenton after leading Holly’s squad to the Class B state championship game in 1958, Decker made Fenton into an area power, leading the squad to the Class B state semifinals in 1964, and several other deep runs during that time.
When the Tigers entered the new building for the 1969-70 school year, the Tigers captured an 8-2 Metro League record, earning a co-championship. With MVP Ric Adams and captain Gary Teachworth leading the way, Fenton defeated Holly, Linden and Durand to win a Class B district title. They also beat Mt. Morris and Millington, earning a spot in a regional title game against Carrollton. Unfortunately, the Tigers lost 65-54.
Fenton had other strong teams during this era, winning district titles in 1972 and 1973 as well. The 1972 squad finished in second in the Metro. Led by Bill Kellogg and Bill Grove, the Tigers finished in second place with a 9-3 Metro record in 1973.
Boys Cross Country
As Fenton moved to its new high school, many knew about the strong wrestling team, and rightfully so. It was a powerful program that won state championships.
However, the boys cross country also had its share of success during this era. With Ray Ladd as the head coach, the Tigers won the first three Metro League titles in boys cross country. The fall team of 1969 was the second of those squads. The team dominated the league that season with Don Keswick (10:20) winning the league meet (races were only two miles at that time), followed by Mark Evans, Gordon Smith, Frank Blissett and Brian Harris, who each finished in the top 10. They won the Holly Invitational, took second at the regional meet and finished state runner-up at the Class B state meet.
In 1970, Keswick won the league meet again (13:16.2 over 2.5 miles) as the Tigers won their third straight league crown. Blissett, Harris and Steve Smith also had top-10 finishes. The squad dropped to second in the Metro and to third the next season.
The Tigers had a strong golf team during this era, repeating as Metro champions during the first year in the new building. Lapeer won the next title, but the Tigers went on to win four straight after that.
During the 1969-70 season, John Cowan, Rob Guilbault, Tom North and Billy Uffelman helped lead the team to a 20-2-1 dual record overall, while winning a regional title. The Tigers placed 13th at the state meet.
In future seasons, Bill Cowan and Tim North would be a couple of the strong golfers on league championship squads.
The Fenton boys didn’t win any league crowns, but there were some strong performers during this era.
Don Keswick set the mile record (4:26) and Frank Blissett broke the two-mile record (10:05) the first season at the new school.
In 1972, the Tigers enjoyed a state champion. Dave Karns won the 880-yard dash crown with a time of 1:55.9.
There were new tennis courts, but it took awhile for the boys varsity tennis team to establish itself. And while the Metro League existed, there weren’t enough teams with tennis squads for it to be a league sport until the 1972-73 school year.
The 1970 team placed fifth in the Class A regional, and that’s about where they stayed during this period. The Tigers also placed fifth at regionals during the 1972-73 season.
The Fenton varsity baseball team was reasonably competitive during this era. The squad experienced a yo-yo type of existence, taking second in 1970 and 1972 and fifth in 1971 and 1973.
With the new school, came the new swimming pool, so it wasn’t long before swim teams became part of Fenton High School.
There isn’t a story about a team in the 1970 yearbook, but by 1972 the Fenton boys had nine swimmers qualify for the state meet, earning the squad their first winning season.
The Metro League recognized boys swimming as an official league sport starting with the 1970-71 season. It wasn’t until 1973 that the Tigers earned their first league event title, taking the top spot in the 200 medley relay.
Interestingly, there was a water polo squad for at least one season. The 1973 yearbook has a photo of the team after winning a game.