Mark and Linda Comstock are on their way to the state basketball tournament in Sioux Falls. It’s the same trip they took 50 years ago, but in 1967, Mark rode the team bus and Linda drove her family’s Rambler with Barb Melgard riding shotgun.
It was the year the miracle team from Milbank surprised everyone by winning it all. On Thursday, March 16, during the 2017 tournament, the ’67 Bulldogs will be honored on the 50th anniversary of their championship.
A lot of miles have been traveled in the time spanning the two tournaments, but Mark and Linda have remained on the same journey. According to Linda, the couple began dating the summer before their sophomore year of high school, on August 10, 1964. Although, Mark says he is sure, “We started dating in second grade.”
Linda says she was working at the A&W the summer of ’64, and Mark started hustling her at work. Mark’s story is: “I just went there to get an ice cream cone.”
Apparently, Mark took quite a liking to A&W ice cream as the next summer the owners became upset about Mark dropping by so often. “I actually got in trouble and was put on probation for a week and couldn’t work,” Linda said.
The couple continued to date and during their senior year, the Bulldogs were headed to the state basketball tournament. They weren’t expected to win or even get close, but Linda still wanted to be there to cheer on her boyfriend and the team. ” Barb (Melgard Dohrer) and I went down to the tournament together,” Linda recalls. “My dad let me take our Rambler. We drove as far as Brookings where my brother, Don, was going to college. He took us the rest of the way to Sioux Falls, but once we got there, we were on our own.”
Linda and Barb stayed with Barb’s aunt during the tournament – Barb was dating sophomore Rick Dohrer at the time. The two girls must have been good luck charms as Rick Dohrer was the only non-starter to play a few minutes during the tournament. “I also remember Barb and I went to the motel where the team was staying and Coach Wolsky let Mark and Rick go out with us after one of the games. I don’t know why we were so gutsy. That would never happen today.”
Mark and Linda laugh about this memory and several others as they prepare for the anniversary. “It is such a good memory and still really cool,” they agree. “We talk about it when we get together with classmates and old friends.” The biggest things that stand out for Mark are: “We made only seven turnovers in the whole tournament and not very many fouls. Nobody ever fouled out. Only six of us played in the three games and we had to play three big schools that are in Class AA now. We beat those tough teams.”
After surprising everyone and winning the trophy, the team traveled home on the bus. Linda and Barb drove the Rambler back to Milbank. “It was bumper to bumper traffic coming home,” Linda said. “When we got back to town and saw all the people waiting to welcome the team, it was amazing!”
This September, the couple, along with their classmates, will celebrate another 50th – the Class of 1967’s 50th reunion. “This year, we want to focus on our lives now,” Mark says.
The Comstocks have yet another 50th celebration on their horizon – their 50th wedding anniversary. Although that won’t happen until the year 2020, the couple has been making memories for nearly 53 years. “We go way back -a lot of years,” Linda says. “We have a lot of good memories. The success of our 50-plus years together comes down to respect. We have learned to respect each other for our likes, dislikes, and differences. Plus, Mark is very easy to get along with,” she says with a glimmer in her eye.
Pictured Mark and Linda at their junior prom. Mark and Linda at a high school beatnik party.