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Hall of Famer Mike Lantry made his mark in football, track

Lantry today. (click for larger version)

Mike Lantry back when he played football for U-M. (click for larger version)
August 18, 2010 - Mike Lantry is one of the most outstanding male athletes to ever put on the Oxford High School blue and gold.

For his accomplishments during high school and beyond, Lantry was honored as a charter member into the OHS Athletic Hall of Fame.

"Throughout all of the years, there has been a lot of great people come through our town and it is nice that somebody took the initiative to acknowledge some of the people from the past that have done some pretty outstanding things," Lantry said.

"I am definitely honored to be part of this first class," he added.

During his four years of high school, Lantry, a 1966 graduate, played under legendary football coach Walt Braun as a linebacker and was a record-setting place kicker, He also ran track for veteran mentor Elmer Ball.

As a shot put thrower under Ball, Lantry won the Class 'B' shot put state title in 1966 and established the OHS record throw in shot put at 60 feet, seven and a half inches, which remains as the oldest standing track and field record at OHS.

"For me, it was having the opportunity to compete at anything I did and it just so happened that track was a great venue for me to compete and see how I stacked up with all of the other players from the school and the schools we competed against," he said.

Upon his graduation from OHS, Lantry enlisted in the United States Army because it was mandated.

"There was no lottery system, there was no volunteer. When your name came up, you were inducted into the Army," Lantry said.

"It wasn't necessarily my choice, but in the end it was the best thing that ever happened to me," he added.

He saw combat in Vietnam as part of the 3rd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division and was further assigned to the 320 1st Artillery.

"It (Vietnam) was really focusing on the job that you needed to do and it was kind of a life and death survival over there, especially in the year I was over there (1969)," he said.

It was documented that Vietnam in 1969 was the worst year for American casualties. "It really spurred on the American government to start de-escalating our involvement in the war," Lantry noted.

"It was just surviving and just thinking about coming back home and having that good experience behind me, which is what I was looking for," he said.

Lantry said that it was his times and experiences in the Army that helped him mature so if the chance to go to college came along after, he could take it.

After coming back from Vietnam, Lantry enrolled at the University of Michigan as a track athlete. He credits the effort of the track coach at that time, Jack Harvey to get Lantry into Michigan.

"I kept in contact with Coach Harvey and I basically told him in our writings and communication if there was ever an opportunity for me to go to school at the University of Michigan, I would love to run track and compete for him," Lantry said.

He walked onto the football team in Jan. 1971 and began a stellar football career where he started in all 33 games he played for the Wolverines from 1972-1974.

In 1973, Lantry led the Wolverines in scoring on their way to an undefeated (10-0-1) season. That same season, Lantry was named to Football News All-American team.

Lantry established the record for most field goals in a career (21), points after touchdowns (113) and the first Michigan kicker to boot a 50-yard field goal. He was also named to the All-Big Ten Conference first team three times and was named the All-Big Ten Conference first team academic list as a sophomore.

All of this happened under the watchful eye of legendary coach Bo Schembechler.

"He gave me my opportunity to compete," Lantry said. "I was a walk-on and he probably could have said I don't know who you are, I didn't recruit you, but that wasn't part of his make-up."

"Everyone remembers Coach Schembechler as being a tough, hard nosed football coach, but he really had a compassion for his kids to compete and when I expressed my interest to come out and play, he gave me the opportunity I was looking for," Lantry added.

Still regarded as one of the best specialists in Wolverines history, he ranks third all-time in scoring (176 points) and is still the only kicker to make two field goals over 50 yards in the same game (Standford in 1973).

He also earned three letters as a shot-putter on the track and field team.

Lantry graduated from Michigan's School of Education with a bachelor's degree in 1975.

After a brief stint in the National Football League with the Dallas Cowboys, Lantry became a successful businessman. He is the President of Lantry & Associates, a company that represents manufacturers in the automotive industry.

He also serves as an executive board member for the University of Michigan "M" club, which is for letterwinners, and is a member of the Sarasota chapter of the University of Michigan Alumni Association.

He is the father of Mike, Jr. of Sarasota, FL and Stephanie of Los Angeles, CA.

"I admire him (Mike Watson) to step up and really institute this because this should last for all time and should hopefully inspire kids to do well in their lives so maybe one day they will be part of this high school hall of fame," Lantry said.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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