(Photo by Tim Sheridan) Former Akron-Fairgrove track and field and cross country coach Jerry Lasceski unveils the 1978 Class D boys' state championship trophies won by his teams in both sports. The presentation was a part of the teams' 40th anniversary reunion celebration that took place last Saturday at Akron-Fairgrove High School.

(Photo by Tim Sheridan)
Members of the 1978 Akron-Fairgrove Class D boys’ state champion track and field and cross country teams who turned out for last Saturday’s 40th anniversary reunion celebration pose for a team picture commemorating the occasion with their state title trophies in tow. Front row, left to right: Mike Day, Kirk Becker, Brian Sprague and Bruce Turner. Middle row, left to right: Randy Harrington, Todd Clement, Joe Ribarchik and Bruce Findlay. Back row, left to right: Tim Steffek, Cole Dickson, coach Bob Swan, Mike Sheridan, Gary Bondarenko, coach Jerry Lasceski, Kyle Detmers, Howard Johnson, Rick Stone, Greg Festian, coach Dick Atkinson and Ken Farver.


Sports Editor

FAIRGROVE — Members of Akron-Fairgrove’s 1978 Class D boys’ track and field state championship team made up for lost time with a 40th anniversary celebration of their accomplishment last Saturday at Akron-Fairgrove High School.

It was the first reunion assembly for the team, and one that former team member Mike Sheridan felt was long overdue.

“I think some of the guys might’ve been a little reluctant at first, but quickly warmed up to the idea,” said Sheridan. “By the time it was all said and done, everyone left feeling very happy they came and got the chance to see each other again.”

Sheridan collaborated with one of his former teammates in Howard Johnson as well as former Vikings’ coach Jerry Lasceski and his wife Suzanne to work to spread word of the reunion. Their efforts resulted in the attendance of 20 former coaches and athletes turning out for the event, with many of their family members joining them to make for a gathering of roughly 50 people.

Lasceski’s inclusion with the reunion was a highlight for Sheridan and his teammates. Among his credentials for being inducted into both the Michigan High School Athletic Association Coaches Hall of Fame as well as the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2016 were his contributions leading to four of A-F’s six total state championships, including the first in school history, the ’78 track state title.

“Howard (Johnson) came up with the idea and asked me to help, and then him and I met with Jerry and his wife,” said Sheridan of planning for the reunion party.

Sheridan added that the Lasceskis’ involvement was one of the key reasons the reunion had such a good turnout.

“They both made it happen the way it did,” said Sheridan. “I think it meant an awful lot to those who attended.”

(Photo by Tim Sheridan)
Former Akron-Fairgrove track and field and cross country coach Jerry Lasceski speaks to members of his 1978 Class D boys’ track and cross country state championship teams at a 40th anniversary reunion celebration last Saturday at Akron-Fairgrove High School.

Some who attended the reunion were also a part of the Vikings’ first and only Class D boys’ team cross country state title that was achieved in the fall of ’78, also under Lasceski’s tutelage. The cross country championship came on the heels of a state runner-up finish in ’77 that was the result of a tiebreaker.

The other state titles to A-F’s credit came from its ’87 and ’88 girls’ track and field teams in back-to-back fashion, its ’91 girls’ cross country team and, most recently, its ’93 boys’ track team.

Noted Sheridan of the members of the team who attended the reunion party: “Quite a few of the guys who were there scored points for us that year.”

The A-F graduating class of ’78 that included Sheridan had just 78 members.

Sheridan said one of the perks of attending the reunion was getting a chance to speak in front of the crowd.

“We all had the opportunity to talk and share some of our favorite memories,” said Sheridan. “My best memory wasn’t of a specific event, but rather just all the fun we had.

“It was a different time period, and we had more fun back then than you could probably get away with today,” he added with a laugh.

Validating all the effort that went into planning for the reunion were the thank yous that followed.

“The next day I got quite a few texts and a couple phone calls from guys who were saying thanks for putting it together, and that they were glad they came,” said Sheridan.

1978 Akron-Fairgrove Boys’ Class D Track and Field state champions

Gary Bondarenko

Todd Clement

Jerry Curtis*

Mike Day

Randy Harrington

Howard Johnson

Lee Latimer

Paul Scott*

Mike Sheridan

Shawn Sheridan

Tim Steffek

Rick Stone

Jeff Valentine

Kirk Becker

Carl Bednarski

Cole Dickson

Brian Duke

Greg Festian

Bruce Findlay

Bill Hartman*

Jerry Hawley

Glen Kosik*

John Obertein*

Bruce Turner

Joe Volk

Philip Bedford

Tim Connelly

Trent Darling

Kyle Detmers

Ken Farver

Tim Hall*

Lee Vanderlooven*

Jeff Diechman

Paul Festian

Joe Ribarchik

Kevin Ruiz

Bryan Sprague

Cory Waynick

* deceased