|Mike in his Wilcox HS uniform|
Feb. 21, 2014
Today we just learned of the passing of Mike Ryan who once held the high school two mile record at 9:10 until Gerry Lindgren broke it two weeks later running 9:00. Mike went on to Stanford and then transferred to the US Air Force Academy after his freshman year. In three years '67, '68, '69 Mike finished 3rd, 1st, and 2nd at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. His victory was at Van Cortlandt Park NYC in a collegiate record on that course of 29:16. In '69 he was sandwiched between Lindgren and Prefontaine. He had worked for many years as a district attorney in Bakersfield, CA. Mike had been suffering from cardiac problems for several years. His spirit and determination will long be remembered by those who knew him. In the late 1970's while serving in the Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH, he trained with the Kettering Striders. I remember going to the All Ohio meet, and he was there with the team. His best days were long behind him, but he was still giving it everything he had. A friend was out on the course near the 4 mile mark and we were both struggling up the hill when his friend, knowing Ryan's psyche and toughness, yelled at him going up that hill, "Ryan, use your teeth!"
Below is some of the correspondence talking about his exploits from several of his friends and acquaintances.
>> I just received an e-mail from Katie Ryan (Mike's wife) who let me know that he passed away last night from cardiac arrest at a Bakersfield hospital. He has not been well for some time and has been unable to attend our Old Farts reunions since he was unable to travel comfortably.
>> Mike finished second in the 1969(?) NCAA Cross-Country Championships to Gerry Lindgren by only a few seconds and broke 9 minutes for 2 miles while attending Wilcox High School in Santa Clara in the 60's. He went to college at the Air Force Academy in Colorado and has been living in Bakersfield for many years.
>> Mike ran for West Valley TC briefly in the early 1970's, and participated in the National AAU X-C Championships as I recall.
> He was very supportive, which made my day!
> Jack, I cc:Ed George for his blog.