On September 8, 2023, five people were inducted into the Almont Community Schools Sports Hall of Fame: Dale Schultz and Frank Bacholzky (Class of 1945) as contributors; Dr. Roger Spalding, Melissa Gomez, and John Bacholzky (Class of 1995) as athletes.
Frank Bacholzky graduated from Almont High School in 1945. His induction into the Hall of Fame as a Contributor marks the third time he has been inducted.
He was first inducted as a member of the 1944-1945 basketball team during the first Hall of Fame inductions. The 1944-1945 basketball team was undefeated league champions, district champions, regional champions and lost in the semi-finals of the State tournament.
He was later inducted as a member of 1944 football team, which was undefeated league champions. The only blemish on their record was a tie with Imlay City.
In a recent story about the 1945 baseball team–which was also an undefeated league champion–I suggested that team deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. Frank was one of the team’s leading hitters and pitched and had a record of 4 wins and 2 losses.
He also was a member of the 1943-1944 basketball league championship team.
Frank was hired to teach fifth grade in 1964 and was promoted to Elementary Principal in 1987. During this time– when the need arose–he would coach football and basketball. When not coaching–sometimes even when coaching–he would run the score board, or more often, keep the books for the athletic events.
Frank and his wife, “Boots” retired in 1990 but he could often be seen filling in when something needed to be done. By this time his grandsons were participating so he was almost always at the games offering advice and encouragement.
Frank and “Boots” twin sons, John and Frank (Class of 1969) were star athletes on the football, basketball, baseball, and track teams of the late 1960s. They were members of the 1966-1967 basketball championship team, which set the school varsity scoring record and twice scored 100 points in a game. In 1968, along with David Bannister and Lynn Hart, they set the record for the 1600 meter relay, which stood for 27 years.
Frank’s grandson, John (son of John) played football and ran track. Track was where John was exceptional.
Starting as a freshman he was an important part of the success of the track program. In four years the track team had a record of 62 wins (probably higher) and five losses. Their Southern Thumb Association record was 22 wins and two losses (came in John’s freshman year). They won three undefeated STA dual meet championships. They won two league meet championships, finishing second the other two years. As seniors they lost to eventual State champion New Haven by a single point.
The teams had an equally impressive record in relay and invitational events. As freshman they were second at the Tri-City Times Relays but won the event the next three years. With the girls team, as sophomores and juniors they won the Co-Ed title and were second as seniors. At the Ortonville-Brandon Co-Ed Relays, they were first as sophomores and second as juniors and seniors. As freshman and sophomores they won the Burton/Bentley Freshman/Sophomores Invitational. As juniors and seniors they won the Bad Axe Invitational and came in third and second at the Lapeer County Meet. As seniors, the team placed second at the Harbor Beach Invitational.
John was a jack-of-all trades. He ran the 400-meter, 800-meter, 1,600-meter runs, high jumped, and ran in all four relays; 400-meter, 800-meter, 1,600-meter, and 3,200-meter. He was named to the Tri-City Times All-Area team for both the 1,600- meter run and the 1,600- meter relay all four years. As a sophomore he added the 800-meter run, which he also received as a junior and senior. As a junior he added the 400-meter run to his awards and received it again as a senior. As a senior he added the 800-meter relay to his accolades– recognized in five events.
At State Regional’s in 1994 he won the 800- meter run in a school record time of 2:01.39, which qualified him for the State meet. At the State Finals he finished third with a new school record time of 1:58.27 and earned All-State honors.
In 1995 at the McDonald’s Meet of Champions he teamed with Tom Zellers, Matt Zellers, and Jamey Wade to win the 800-meter relay in a school record time of 1:34.07, which had stood since 1981.
At State Regionals, John qualified in the 800-meter run and with the 1,600-meter relay team of Nick Bacholzky, Kurt Brinker, and Jamey Wade qualified for the State Finals.
John won the Regional 800-meter race with a time of 2:04.11 seconds. However, for the State meet, this time put John in the farthest outside starting lane. The 800-meter run has a staggered start, so everyone could see John but John couldn’t see anyone else. At the gun, John took off at a fast pace. When he reached the turn at the far end of the stadium where the runners can move down to the inside lane, John had a substantial lead on the runner who had started in the inside lane and who had one of the fastest qualifying times. That runner was shocked to see someone ahead of him. He looked at John and tried to go into another gear but his form fell apart and he finished back in the pack. John kept a consistent stride and held off everyone else for the following 500-meters, winning the race and All-State honors. His time of 1:58.17 set another new school record.
The 1600-meter relay team ran in the next to last heat of the relay and finished with a time of 3:33.79 seconds which was good for 7th at the State meet and earned the team All-State honors.
The Midwest Meet of Champions is a track meet between the best track performers from Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. To be asked to attend this meet, an athlete must have one of the two fastest times or distances regardless of the school’s size. In 1995, the meet was held in Indianapolis, Indiana.
John’s 800-meter run time of 1:58.17 was also one of the two fastest times, so he also qualified for the Midwest Meet of Champions.
Just as at the State Finals, John was in the outside lane so everyone could see John but John couldn’t see anyone else. John Bacholzky finished 6th–last–in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:57.63 seconds. Track is an unusual sport because you compete as a team by competing against an individual. You also compete against yourself. Even though he finished last, he reduced his personal best time by 0.54 seconds and set a new school record.
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or jrwade49@ gmail.com or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.