Thursday, September 1, 2011

Vol 1 No. 39 June, 1958

1957 has come and gone. Unfortunately so has the first half of 1958 because the June issue is the first I have.
JUNE, 1958
Twenty year old Herb Elliot is in California. Previous to this report apparently he has run 3:58.2. On May 31 at the California Relays in Modesto he wins in a subpar 4:02.7. The excitement is provided by the 440 and 880 relay teams from Abilene Christian who set world records with marks of 39.7 and 1:22.6. Especially satisfying is the fact that Texas had held both (440 shared with ACC). Apparently the 440 could have been faster or Cordner Nelson’s description contained less hyperbole. “Bill Woodhouse, starting his run to take the baton from leadoff man Waymon Griggs, felt a cramp in his leg and slowed down while Griggs passed him. Woodhouse started running again, and his leg felt all right, so he snatched the baton from Griggs and set out after Oklahoma State.” A third WR, though unofficial, is set as California clocks 3:18.9 in the sprint medley. Jack Yerman opens with a 47.1, high school BJ record holder Monte Upshaw runs 21.9. Willie White follows with a 20.8. Don Bowden splits 23.9, 51.5 and 1:18.9 before the bear jumps on his back. Though the final furlong takes 30 seconds, it is enough for a 1:49.0 and the record.
Perry O’Brien throws 63-1 to win “the greatest shot put competition in history”. Making his debut on the big stage is Arizona high schooler, Dallas Long, who takes second, a half inch shy of 60’. Eddie Southern’s star continues to rise as he crushes Olympic champ Charlie Jenkins 45.9 to 47.2. Of special note is a competitive 880. Makosaki of Poland wins in 1:49.7 over an impressive collection of young Americans. Dave Scurlock holds off fast closing Arnie Sowell for second, 1:50.1 for both. Maynard Orme takes fourth over Wilcox of Fresno State. 1:50.4 to 1:50.6. Stanford’s Ernie Cunliffe is sixth with no time listed.
A week later and 300 miles south it is the Compton Invitational. Elliot vs. Olympic champ Delany. How could any event detract from that? Well the shot put competition did. “Shortly after 7:30 PM, the 8000 spectators witnessed the most brilliant shot putting of all time.” O’Brien wins at 62-4, but that isn’t the story. SC sophomore Dave Davis “shoves the heavy ball 60-5 for a new collegiate record” and moves to #3 all time. It is an impressive performance, but one that is soon overshadowed. “Dallas Long, blond 245 pound high school boy from Phoenix is next up. He sends the brown shot thudding into the turf over 61 feet away.” His mark is 61-0 ½. Here is the trivia question with which you can astound your friends and neighbors. What was the event and what were the circumstances in which the high school record was better than the collegiate record? Armed with this knowledge, you will be a god at the local tavern.
Oh, and when the shot put excitement died down, they did run a mile. The undefeated newcomer from down under lining up against the Olympic champion, “the hawk-beaked Elliot, wearing a pink shirt with a homemade white C on it, and the boyish looking Delany in the black of Villanova”. Also in the race is the third man to break four minutes, Lazlo Tabori. At the quarter Elliot is third at 57.5, Delany on his heels at 57.9. Elliot is second at the half in 1:59.3 with Delany a tenth back. The pacemaker drops back and Elliot leads at the 1320 in 3:01.4 with Delany in position to strike at 3:01.8, though Tabori his now between them. “Around the turn it was still a footrace.” (As opposed to …..?) Elliot opens up on the backstretch and Delany knows it is not his night, “his mincing stride shortened and became more awkward as he slows to an 80 pace”. Tabori has not given up, but Elliot’s 56.7 drops the Hungarian another 10 yards back. The 1500 time is 3:43.4, making his final 120 a quick 14.7, producing a 3:58.1. Tabori is second at 4:00.5. A well beaten Delany crosses the line in 4:10.0.
Eddie Southern goes 45.9 for the second time in a week. Willie White and Ed Collymore trade sprint victories, White taking the 100, 9.5 for both, and Collymore the 220 by two tenths in 20.3.
Southern’s weekend was not done. The next day it’s back to Modesto where he runs 46.l in the Central California AAU. Also on June 7, Al Oerter throws 188-2 in the Central Collegiates.
But this day the focus of the track world is on Houston and the Meet of Champions where outstanding marks abound. Bobby Morrow goes 9.4 and 20.4 to win easily. Glenn Davis tours the track in 46.8. George Kerr thumps the field in 1:49.5, the second best collegiate time of the year. Don Stewart of SMU wins the HJ at 6-10 ½. The dynasty that was to be Oklahoma is heard from. The great South African, Gail Hodgson, “despite being sidelined for two weeks with a kidney infection,” runs his fastest mile, 4:05.4, to win. Sooner weight men, Erwin and Lindsay take the SP and DT with marks of 54-1 ½ and 164-2. Dee Givens shows his potential with 9.6 and 20.9 clockings and you can practically hear the sounds of Boomer Sooner resonating off the walls of the stadium when the mile relay team of Gernert (no initial), Denton, Parr and H. Gernert win in 3:15.2.
In San Diego the NAIA demonstrates its forward thinking by including the 440 intermediates in its program, something the AAU and the NCAA haven’t gotten around to. Russ Washington runs 51.5 for a collegiate record by nine tenths. He also combines with Winston Salem teammate Elias Gilbert to go 1-2 in the highs and lows, Gilbert winning the first, 13.6 to 14.2 and Washington the second 23.2 to 23.5.
Of special note is a large photo on page 7 of the great Ernie Cunliffe winning a significant, though unmentioned, 880. Visible in his wake are Olympian Don Bowden and Olympian to be Jerry Siebert. No time is mentioned, but it was regular take-em-out-behind-the-woodshed whipping of 7-8 yards. It is the first 880 defeat of Bowden’s career.
In a column entitled Quotable Quotes, Fred Wilt derides modern coaching methods for distance runners. “For best results first of all, we must train. We should run each day. Twice per day is better than once…..Do it this way. First mile should be gradually accelerated, starting slowly and gradually going faster, until you’re about exhausted at the end of a mile. Then jog about 110 yards, sprint 110 yards, etc., thus making 8 x 110 yards during the second mile....I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but he who trains without using wind sprints, regarding his racing distance is not getting maximum results.” I’m leaving out much of what he said because I’m tired of typing, but oxygen debt is the message.
Bert Nelson’s Of People and Things column begins with an explanation of how the split-hand stopwatch works. He seems to like it pretty well. “The split-hand stopwatch is the greatest invention since milk.” And let’s hear it for Paul Keller of Delaware, Ohio, and the first and only member of the T&FN subscription sales Century Club. Seems Paul has turned in 150 subscriptions in a year and a half, most from Delaware and Prospect, Ohio.
Next time you feel you are being asked to do too much with too little, consider Wilbur Ross, the great hurdle coach at Winston-Salem who has produced the aforementioned Elias Gilbert and Russ Washington. The school has no track. His athletes do a “Fartlek type workout in a rough field and hurdle in a gym, training on a track across town about once every two weeks”. Seems to work out okay.
The On Your Marks column tells of a high school coach getting a college job. Seems Sam Bell had done a pretty good job with a young Dyrol Burleson who has just set the high school mile record of 4:13.2 at Cottage Grove HS about 30 miles down the road from Eugene. Sam will be drawing paychecks from Oregon State University. Dyrol will stay closer to home.
In Bert Nelson’s So They Tell Me column Fresno State coach Flint Hanner relates the following. “Elroy Robinson (who held the world record at 1:49.6 (in 1937) was a hurdler in high school and ran only 2:09 as a frosh. After his 880 record, and when he was out of school, he decided to take a crack at the mile. He ran 2:56.5 for three quarters, and showed no fatigue. That was on a Thursday. On Sunday he told me, ‘The Lord has called me. I won’t run anymore.’ And he never did.” Were I Flint, I would be down on my knees, praying. “Jesus wants you to run, Elroy.”
In the same column Hilmer Lodge, coach at Mount San Antonio College describes the new track facility the school is building. It has all the bells and whistles. He goes into great detail. I am struck by the curb sprinkler system and “the 160 yard apron on the opposite side to permit hurdles to be run without taking time out of another race to set them up.” It is a concept well ahead of its time. The cost is a whopping $425,000.
Prep Panorama reveals that Dave Mills’ (Lakewood Ohio) greatest race may not have been his national record 46.6 set at the state meet on the Ohio State track. The previous week in the Northeastern Ohio district meet he ran 46.8 around two turns “in the pole lane on a soft powdery track.” The Ohio high school board gave permission to run the race around one turn to give him a better chance for the record. Pretty sure everyone broke for the pole because there is a photo of him hitting the tape in lane one with another runner also in one and several in two.
Running through the US Report, it looks like track was the training grounds for pro football. Not counting Glenn Davis, future NFL and AFL players are LSU’s Billy Cannon, 9.5, Colorado’s Boyd Dowler, the great Packer receiver, and Compton JC’s Paul Lowe, the all world San Diego Charger running back, both 14.2 hurdlers. Not far behind is Bowling Green’s soon to be LA Ram receiver, Bernie Casey, at 14.5. Jimmy Johnson, on his way to All American honors at UCLA and a 16 year Hall of Fame career with the 49ers, broad jumps 23-11 ¼ for Compton JC.
And let me put to rest whatever doubts there may be about Clifford Severn’s staying power. He is still selling Adidas on the back page: Cross Country – Glide a while with Adidas Featherlite Kangaroo and Elkhide Cross Country Shoes…..Resoleable!!

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