There are winning streaks and then there is THE winning streak. That is what could be said about the Pickford boys track program, which has won more titles than any school in Michigan history. It isn’t just about the number they’ve won, but that incredible stretch from 1952 to 1978, when they set a championship streak that has never been (and probably never will be) equaled.
This story begins with Coach Webster Morrison, a WWII veteran who returned to his hometown to teach. In 1952, he was coach of the Pickford baseball team. A scheduled game with Newberry was cancelled, so Morrison and his assistant David McDowell thought that perhaps it would be fun for the boys to enter a track meet in Sault Ste. Marie since they didn’t have a game. They did so well in the meet, the team quickly got permission from the MHSAA to enter the Regionals in Marquette. They won the Regional and then went to the U.P. championship at Michigan Tech, where they won the meet with 32 points, narrowly defeating second-place Eben.
From that point forward, Pickford’s boys track team was a juggernaut year in and year out, winning the U.P. finals. Each year, it was expected the team would be the favorite, but even when they weren’t, they would find a way to come out on top. Part of the reason for their success was simply numbers, for athletes want to play for a champion; one year 55 boys went out for the team!
Morrison would end his track career as he began it, winning the U.P. Finals for the last time in 1976, his 25th straight. The Pickford program would win the U.P. Finals again in 1977 (Coach Richard Johnson) and 1978 (Coach Robert McHaney) before the streak ended in 1979, when the title was won by Crystal Falls-Forest Park. Since that time, Pickford’s boys have won six more U.P. titles in Class D and Division III, including four straight titles (1989-1992) under the helm of Sam Lightfoot.
Images courtesy of Roger Morrison, Pickford.