Monday, August 11, 2014

Vol. 4 No. 55 Remembering Oklahoma State's WR 2 Mile Relay Team 1966-67











Many of our readers will remember that tremendous group of 880 runners who gathered at Oklahoma State University in the mid 1960's,  John Perry, David Perry, Jim Metcalf, and Tom Von Ruden.  They came to OSU barely able to break 2:00 for the half but within a few years challenged and then broke the World Record for the 2 Mile Relay or  4x880.  This series of emails and remembrances came to us through a former teammate of mine at the University of Oklahoma , Walt Mizell.  Walt was a 'journeyman' half miler and the two of us had to eat a lot of OSU cinders in those days.
George Brose, OU coach Bill Carroll, and Walt Mizell
Walt did hold the KU Allen Fieldhouse 880 record indoors until one Jim Ryun came along to break it.   Anyway, Walt is distantly related by marriage to Preston Holsinger, who pole vaulted for OSU and was a teammate of the Perrys, Metcalf, and Von Ruden.  Preston, by the way was Big 8 PV champ back then.   Walt and Preston got to talking and then contacted the Perry's and Metcalf and the following correspondence resulted.  It is interesting reading, sometimes humorous and very informative of what those days in college track and field were like.  Few teams today on synthetic tracks even dream of approaching the times these four guys put up.  (Before our friends at Penn State take exception, please remember this was almost fifty years ago).    The number of races they ran in an outdoor season is incredible, the training regimes are less thought out by today's standards, yet still intense. Weight training, nutrition, rest, are you kidding?  Hope you can find your way back into those days through these guys' memories.  Their coach was Ralph Higgins a former Cowboy football and track star when OSU had been in the Missouri Valley Conference.  And for you younger readers, I hope you can gain some understanding of  what these guys were capable of doing with much less information and knowledge about running in those days.

The correspondence begins with the OSU guys talking about a dual meet against Oklahoma in 1966 that went down to the Mile Relay.  Again for our younger readers, a dual meet is a competition between two teams where every track and field event is contested down to three places scoring 5-3-1 for the first three places.  Teams had to run athletes in multiple events to cover all the events.  The mile relay (4x440 yards) was the last event of the meet and the meet team  winner was often decided in this race.  There are some clippings of that meet attached.  In quick summary the main story concerns the mile relay that was anchored by Jim Metcalf for OSU and  OU's Billy Calhoun in his fourth race of the day in that dual meet.  Strategies were important as you will see, and a number three walk on long jumper ended up blowing the meet for the Cowboys.  From there the story evolves to their 2 Mile Relay history.     Several other people who got into this conversation which went on for over a week on the internet are identified along the way.  I've also included  the cover of the biography of Chris McCubbins, who was an OSU contemporary in those days.


We do not have anything from Tom Von Ruden, but maybe someone will get this to him and he will add more memories.   Others have joined the conversation including two tremendous sprinters/880 runners Billy Stone and Charlie Strong who were at OSU a year or two before the two mile relay guys.  I've included a page referring to Charlie's performances while at OSU.


The Beginning

George,
 Preston Holsinger asked me to give you some information on OSU.

 I remember some great dual meets with OU, especially 1966 when it came down to the mile relay. I had just beaten Von Ruden in the 880 by running 1:48.8 to his 1:49.2, those were the two fastest times that had ever been run in the state of Oklahoma. We didn't have much rest before the mile relay but more than Jim Hardwick (OU) , who has just run the intermediate hurdles. Bill Calhoun (OU) had run several events and James Shields (OU) had been in the 880.

OU ran in the following order, Tom Melton, Jim Shields, Jim Hardwick and Bill Calhoun (45.5). We ran Arnold Droke, Tom Von Ruden, John Perry and Jim Metcalf. The lead changed numerous times. It was the fastest mile relay in Big Eight history for both first and second, OU won in 3:08.5 and OSU was second in 3:08.9. No Big Eight team had ever broken 3:09, our 3:08.9 was the fastest non winning Dual Meet performance in NCAA history. OU won the meet 73 to 71. What a meet!!
James Hardwick
NCAA indoor champion 600 yards 1967
John Perry
This was almost a full page of the Daily Oklahoman Sunday edition reporting the OU  OSU  dual meet in 1966








Second year OU coach J.D. Martin who out schemed
Ralph Higgins that day.

(from Jim Metcalf)
I anchored the Mile Relay. I ran the open 440 instead of the 880 because I could get 3 points and with Tom and John in the 880, no matter how we ran we got only 1 point extra.... and got second behind Bill Calhoun....John and Tom ran the 880 and Tom ran the mile.
I got the baton a few steps in front of Bill Calhoun,( after John ran a great leg to give me the lead), who could run 20.8 for the 220 and high 45's on a good day at the open 440.
He went around me on the back stretch and I could do nothing about it. He ran 45.5 and I think I ran 46.1 He beat me by about as far as I had a lead on him when I got the baton.
anyway....our times were great on that loose cinder track.
a side story as to why we lost the meet...
there were only 3 men in the long jump and they ran it as usual...preliminary jumps and then final jumps...
Hig (OSU coach Ralph Higgins)  put in one of the lesser sprinter hurdlers in the long jump...he fouled on all 3 of his preliminary jumps and could not go to the final..that point swing cost us the meet...
Hig told him before his last jump to just run down and jump a foot behind the board and make the final..he still fouled...
If you look at our team photo made after the meet you can see how pissed Hig was...I don't think I ever saw him so pissed off..
Jim Metcalf.


This is a team photo made right after we lost to OU in 1966.  As you can see, Hig was pissed. He hated to lose to OU more than anything.
In the 1980's there was a Hig memorial at a basketball game at Galligher-Iba arena and we had a dinner of several of the former runners from all eras before the game.  A bronze bust of Hig was presented at half time at center court with all the track guys around.
His daughter spoke to us at the pre game dinner,  and said that when Hig, age 90+ was on his deathbed, he momentarily regained consciousness and she said to him..:"BEAT OU".... and then he passed...
Jim Metcalf

 When I first got to OSU and into the cross country program we did the 20x440 and 20x220 with about  a 50 yard interval and ran to lake Carl Blackwell and back on Sunday afternoon.   and I could not even walk to the library
my Soph year I trained hard during the summer and actuall won our first 3 mile time trial and was far ahead of the otheres on our first run to carl Blackwell and back....but I started going to school and they started training twice a day so I wound up down the list and finished 16th at the Big-8 and was 4th or 5th on the team.
I did have an unusual combination of endurance and speed.  My Frosh year I won the State AAU 880 and beat Walt Mizel from OU and finished 3rd in the three mile.  OSU's team was already headed for nationals.
But I have never regretted my choice.  Fortunately Hig was a very understanding coach.  When I was a senior if I had a big test in graduate level physiology or chemistry I would skip a work out and go to the library.  I had two hour labs monday-thursday my senior year from 3-5 and my legs were dead when I got to the track and I worked out by myself most of the time.
At our final meeting the night after the NCAA in Provo , he said he was sorry I did not have the opportunity to train properly but he understood and it was OK with him....do you think Bill Easton would have had that attitude?
an interesting footnote about our 2 mile relay team.
both Dave and John Perry were 440 men in high school. I don't think Dave broke 50 seconds..John ran 49.1 and was state champion.  They had never considered the 880 before they met Hig.
Tom Von Ruden was from Notus Idaho. as far away as you can get from Stillwater.  His PR in the mile was 4:37.  Ralph Tate lived in the vicintiy and told Hig there was a kid in Idaho who was loaded with talent, he just needed a coach and Hig gave him a scholarship sight unseen.  I ran 9:52 for the two mile, 4:21 with a 60 last 440 in the mile and 1:58 in the 880.  Of course Danny was sending me workouts by post card every day.  I got 4th in the State Cross Country my junior year when there was just one class.   Hig was a good judge of talent.
in the 440, Charlie Stong was not the premier 440 man in the state. It was Bill Stoddard who went to Kansas.  Hig chose Charlie, largely from the advise of my brother Danny, and the rest is history.  Stoddard was a bust at kansas and charlie a super star.
Yes I got my M.D. but never went by the name doctor.  I am just a kid from the sticks who happend to get into medical school.  Having run for the Pacific Coast Track Club the summer of my Junior Year I knew I wanted to go back to LA.  I did a residency at a level one trauma center in Downtown LA and practiced general surgery in Downtown LA and Beverly Hills.  I stayed 9 years and burned out and came home and live in the country just south of Edmond and did occupational medicine for 30 years and now have a retirement job as a medical consultant for social security disability.
It has been a hell of a ride..
Jim (Metcalf)

Hig used to tell us...when you get older your splits will get faster and your bullshit will get deeper...but it is fun to talk about the greatest times in my life.
In what other sport will 16 guys who ran 40+ years ago against each other get together for a whole weekend of camaraderie and fellowship and bullshitting...and it was just like yesterday
If you want to hang with pretty girls...get a camera...

 Walt, please send these to Billy Calhoun,
 John Perry

You won't see this kind of newspaper coverage for any track meet including the Olympics. Too big to scan but you can get the idea that the OU versus OSU dual was a big deal.
John Perry


That had to be a great meet to watch.  I miss college dual meets.  Eric and I used to dope out the SC - UCLA meets on our morning runs.   Roy Mason


Hello, John,
(from: Walt Mizell, Oklahoma U. 880 specialist, 1964 grad)

You guys had a great run in your day, and compiled quite a record of achievements.  I didn't appreciate it as much at the time, given the rivalry that existed between our two schools.  I did go up to Stillwater for a dual meet between OU and OSU, and I think it was the '66 meet, and remember a mile relay with Billy Calhoun anchoring and coming in from behind with a win for OU, but the other details were lost (if that's the same meet, and I think it was).  I was cheering so loudly for him that a couple of OSU football players came over and suggested that it might be better if I toned it down a bit.  Which advice I took, easy enough since the meet was over.

Thanks to Preston Holsinger for getting all this started.  It's great to re-live the olden days, and as far as OSU is concerned, to see it from the other guys' perspective.

Best regards to you and yours.  Seems like somewhere I saw that you are in Corpus.   If you get through Austin, look me up.  We might be able to get together for a cold one or two.

Walt Mizell



Preston,
Do you have anything on Coach Higgins?    I know he left OSU and went to the Army at Ft. Ord to coach the Army team and had Von Ruden there.  Did he leave on good terms
or get fired for something?   Probably retired.   Coach Easton got booted out of KU against his will but they wanted Jim Ryun and had to give the head job to Bob  Timmons to get Ryun, so the AD
found some petty reason for firing him.  He apparently purchased a vaulting box without written permission from the AD.   The fact that he had kicked the AD's little brother off the team
for a rules infraction didn't help their  relationship.  Bill Carroll our coach at OU left in 64 to go into banking in Okemah, his hometown.  So three of the big ones all left within a few years of each other.

Ralph Higgins
Photo of Ralph Higgins
Inducted: 1982, coach
Born: March 22, 1902 - Fort Cobb, Oklahoma
Deceased: September 13, 1993

The track coach at Oklahoma State University for 32 years, Ralph Higgins was on the Olympic staff in 1956 and 1960 and developed such top athletes as Olympian J.W. Mashburn, outstanding pole vaulters Jim Graham, George Davies and Aubrey Dooley and miler Tom Von Ruden. Higgins graduated from Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) in 1925 after a sporting career that saw him compete in football, basketball and track, winning the Southwest Conference 100 and 440 titles in the latter sport. He became OSU's head track coach in 1935 and his teams won many titles, including 17-straight Missouri Valley Conference team championships when the school was in that league. His 1954 cross country team won the national collegiate title and his 1965 indoor track team was second at the national collegiate championships. After leaving OSU, he helped coach the U.S. Army track team.
Education
undergraduate: Oklahoma A&M (Stillwater, Oklahoma), 1925
Occupations
Coach
Anyway, to answer a couple of questions. Higgins got forced out because of age, the rule was 65. However, Henry Iba was the same age and  got to stay because??  (Stephen Fisher, reader of this blog notes that Mr. Iba was a couple of years younger than Higgins and did retire in 1969 or 70 as he, Mr. Fisher attended the retirement gathering. ) ed.

Higgins coached the Army track team and was coach of the CISM (all military games) team from 1968 thru the early 70's. The last time I saw him before he started failing was in 1983 in Palos Verdes,  California.

He had a great team in 1968, It consisted of about every college track man that had been drafted by the Army plus a few officers. Charlie Greene and Mel Pender were the two officers that I remember. An Army team member made the Olympic team in almost every running event. Tommy Farrell, 800M, Tom Von Ruden 1500M, Bob Day 5000M, Tracy Smith 10,000M, Charlie Greene 100M and Mel Pender 400M relay.

I have quite a few of Higgin's original workout sheets that Dave Smith gave me when he was cleaning out the files, interesting reading with little notes and split times in pencil for everybody.  I also have quite a few newspaper clippings from that time period. If you recall, Jay Simon, the Daily Oklahoman Sports editor, was a big track nut and authored many well written track articles.

I attached a couple of info sheets: one for Charlie Strong, one for individual accomplishments of the two mile team and a clipping from an interview with Higgins.

John Perry



Hig really stood the track world on its ear when I was a freshman.  The world record in the 2-mile relay was 7.19.  He announced in the news paper that he had a team that would run 7:15 the next year.  We could not believe he would say something that was so audacious.

When we broke the 2 mile relay world record the next year, at 7.18.3, our anchor man, Dave Perry, who was a 1:47 man, had strep throat and should not have even run.  he looked like a ghost.  he ran 1:51. Had he run his usual 1:47 we would have achieved the 7:15.

John Perry who was one of the great relay runners of all time and was a 1:49, high 1:48 runner, at the time,  ran 1:47.5 and broke USC's back.   David ran his leg solo.

I was still a green sophomore and we had missed the world record at Kansas, where we still hold the meet record.  No one would run us so I ran solo and could consistently do 1:52 but could not run a fast time solo.    Hig convinced San Diego State's head coach , who was a good friend,  to run his anchor man, who was a good runner, lead off so I would have someone to pull me through. (Their other three guys were not competitive)  The lead off man ran 1:49.2 and I ran 1:50.7 which made the difference.  I ran 1:48.5 at the NCAA semis at Cal Berkeley.  John and I dead heated and were given the same time, but he the nod. We finished 4th and he made the final.  I think we had Darnell Mitchell, Noel Carroll and One of the German brothers in our heat.  The 800 was stacked during those years. John and I had 3 major races where we ran  a dead heat: there, the Big 8 Indoor 880 in 1966 and the Big 8 outdoor where we ran 1:47.7.  They gave me 1:47.8 to make it official.  We also had some great work out duels as we competed every day for blood.

You would think that after running a world record we would be taking victory laps  and going crazy.  Quite the contrary.  We were at the far south end of the infield just a few feet from the curb laid out on the grass.  John and Dave were barfing into a drain.

When we found Hig, who was quite a ladies man, he had lipstick all over his face.  He had kissed every woman close to him in the stands..

Jim Metcalf

We also used to wage psychological warfare against other teams.
 Texas lead off man in the two mile realy and our lead off, Arnold Droke were evenly matched.  John and I and I think Micky Miller went into the coffee shop for breakfast and there, all by himself was Texas' lead off man.  We sat down and proceeded to tell him all about these ungodly workouts and time trials Droke had run, that was all bullshit.  the guy was scared to Death.  Preston Davis came in at the end and later told me, "I knew when I came in and saw him with you guys the race was over."....Droke beat him handily.  The guy was just psyched out.
For Drake, I came up with this ploy with Mickey Miller.  It was common for us to be on the field and even warm up with our competitiors.  This guy from Texas was walking with Mick and I jogged slowly by and mummbled a bunch of incoherent psychobabble to the guy...and the guy bit and said to Mick,..."what did he say?"....and Mickey said in his most confident man to boy voice, ..."He said we are going to kill.".....
Those were the days....


From the other side of the fence,  David Webb remembers the race this way.

Webb says: I would rather be remembered for blowing the race on my own.  For a month now I have tried to recall that OSU " hotboxing," but don't doubt it happened since Preston Davis corroborates.  I remember vividly every race I raced for 9 years. My error here was to try to pass the leader at the 500 yard mark. He kept speeding up and by the time I passed him I had used up my kick. The exact way it unfolded, if I had not passed, the pace would have led to a slow time, probably not as slow as I finished.  In short with no help from OSU, I blew it and have suffered for it for 48 years, the first and last months being the worst.



In looking at these exchanges between these great runners, it is clear that they were an extremely competitive lot, willing to train hard for years to lay it all on the line for less than two or four minutes at a time.  Since those days I've been enthralled by the effort that people must make in human performance whether it its sport or art and yet how it cannot be captured and retained and put into a bottle that we can take out and enjoy in the same way over and over. So we must rely on memory and maybe become teachers and coaches to see others enjoy those fleeting moments and even surpass what we were able to accomplish.   In certain fields performance is more enduring, such as singing, but eventually even the voice fades and wilts.   Those twenty something legs suddenly become thirty and forty and fifty and they stop being  better at some point.  Fortunately now if we wish, we can compete against our peers in age group track, but I think I would still sell my soul some days to be able to run around a track with some spring in my legs or try for that sub four minute mile once again.   George Brose



Metcalf and I worked out together and usually ran against each other in dual meets. We ran way too fast when we didn't have too. HIGGIN's also wanted to win 3 relays at the major relays (which we never accomplished), so we were running the Sprint Medley or DMR, 2 mile relay and mile relay. In 1965 , at Texas, we ran 3:09.6 in the prelims and "blew up" in the finals after running prelims, the DMR and the two mile relay. I checked my personal log and verified that I ran 21 880's and at least 7 440 races in the 1966 outdoor season. Only one of the 880's (except 2 prelims) was above 1:50 Editor's italics  (1:50.3) in a tri meet with Arkansas and OCC (Oklahoma Christian College). Anyway, both Metcalf and I burned out and couldn't run a lick at the NCAA meet. I think Charlie Strong and Bill Stone had similar experiences.
My God what coaches asked of runners in those days!!!!  Editor

Von Ruden had a like experience in 1965. For example, in the NCAA INDOOR in 1965, he ran prelims and finals in the 880. Won the 880, then ran a great 1:50 leg on the winning two mile relay and then ran in the finals of the mile relay in which OSU was third. He got very tired later that year and didn't feel like running. However, he came through with his 880 PR when we set the WR in Fresno.

from George Brose
I think we all overtrained and over raced in those days.  That is an amazing number of sub 1:50  880s.   Four days a week of hard intervals and no distance base in the Fall or Winter.    Not many could do what you did back then, even with today's training methods.  How many years did you go on training hard til you said that's enough?     I heard that Von Ruden had to have double hip replacement.  Jack Daniels was catching on to the good training methods back then and others were starting to copy them.



 George
What we did was fairly standard for Big 8 runners. When I read the "Perfect Mile" , I understood perfectly what Wes Santee was talking about when Easton wouldn't let him peak for the sub 4:00 mile.

Anyway, we didn't complain (too much) and weren't trying to break 4:00, except for Von Ruden, who later broke 4:00 numerous times. He ran 4:01.1 in the 1966 big 8 meet, blanket finish with Tom, Conrad Nightingale, John Lawson and Charlie Conrad.

There was nothing like trying to win a "triple crown" or running in the big indoor races. Hig took us everywhere, Chicago Daily News, Milwaukee Journal, Milrose, NYAC, ETC. Transportation wasn't always first class, for example, we took a 24 hour train ride to Michigan and arrived 2 hours before race time, and then ran 7:26.1 in the two mile relay (world indoor record).

Wouldn't trade my college running experience for anything.
John Perry


Drake Relays 1966
Jim Metcalf hands of to John Perry on the Anchor Leg of 2 mile relay
Just behind  U. of Texas'  Preston Davis takes Baton from Ricardo Romo 
George,

Don't really know what happened at the Kansas Relays but may have been psychological warfare. Psychology and confidence are the biggest part of winning races. David Webb, the lead off runner for Texas, showed up at the Drake Relays and put Texas in a commanding lead. Great race, Von Ruden, Metcalf and Perry all ran sub 1:49. And OSU beat Texas. Here is the final handoff. Romo and Metcalf, Preston Davis and Perry.



John Perry
Preston,
A couple of years ago we were honored by the Kansas Relays for having the oldest record in the books. 
   John Perry

Here is a video of John Perry running a Strider on his 70th Birthday.  

video


From Billy Stone
Although they have rigorous workouts, Dave Smith does not race his guys the ways of our years.  He very carefully plans out their race schedules.  You can't argue with his results given the number of scholarships he has and his concentration on cross country runners.  Although he has had a few national caliber middle distance runners it would be interesting to see what he would do if he had the numbers like you all had.  I believe he would choose only a few meets to point to.  Different philosopy, different time.

John, you may be right in that we were sometimes spent by the time Nationals rolled around.  In 1962 Charlie and I did nothing at the NCAA and NAAU.  Of course we drove almost 2000 miles to Eugene for the NCAA and then 900 miles to the NAAU in Hig's 57 Chevy.  That could have had something to do with it also.  Like most of you guys, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

BillyStone:


From David Perry
What John didn't mention about the 3:09.6 (a new school record) we ran in the Texas Relays prelim in 1965 was the fact we were pushed to that time just to qualify.  It was the first outdoor meet for most of the schools up north.  Us too.  They just used the raw times indoor or outdoor to seed the heats.  No adjustments.  Hig was very upset about the way they seeded the heats.

What we wound up with was 4 or 5 of the best teams in our heat.  Someone wasn't going to the final.  It was a real race just to qualify.  What a way to start a Friday morning.

John mentioned we "fizzled" in the final after 2 more hard races including a hellava race against Missouri & Robin Lingle in the 2 MR.
Sometimes you couldn't win them all using pretty much the same set of runners even though Hig thought we could.  We won a few of them though.
  David J. Perry

That trip to Michigan State was a trip.  We got up about 4 in the morning and caught a train, I think in Perry.  We got to Chicago in time to catch a sleeping car train and got to East Lansing shortly before the meet.

Hig got a single motel room and we changed and all sat around waiting to go to the track.  I think after the  meet we showered and went to the train station and came back.

John and I had a good thing worked out.  In some meets we had to run Prelims in the Sprint Medley.  John would loaf an easy 440 and I would run for 3rd in the 880 so he would be fresh for the 880 and I was fresh for the 440.

We used to be amazed to watch Texas Southern and Southern university's anchors run prelims and run 1:48 and win their heat by 30 yards..they ran like it was a final every time.  George Hunt for Texas Southern and I think Robert Johnson for Southern.  they had some great duels in the sprint medley finals.  Southern had Theron Lewis in the 440.

At Drake on a rainy cold day, on a wet track,  Southern ran about 3:04, give or take a second,  for the mile relay.  They were really great.  Drake had the best cinder track I ever ran on.

Jim Metcalf





Hi John

Those were great years.  If I am not mistaken it was our (Nebraska's) mile relay record you broke.  We ran 3:09.2 at Drake in 1964.  Me, Kent McCloughan, Gil Gebo and Dave Crook.  Those were the days!

Dick (Strand)   U. of Nebraska



Dick,

Your Drake Relays time of 3:09.2 is mentioned in the newspaper article on OU Versus OSU. That time held up for a long time. That Nebraska team was a good lineup and capable of much faster. I think you added Kent late in the season when he finished Spring football. I remember that he dominated the sprints at the 1964 Big 8 meet in Stillwater.

John Perry

This psychological terror antics reminds me of Dennis Richardson at the Southwest relays in Dallas at the cotton bowl. First track meet of the year and usually cold. Back then Dennis and I ran against a kid from SMU called John Roderick- half back star who single handedly beat Navy and Roger Staubach that year.  John I believe at the time held the national school boy 180 low hurdle mark.
The wind was blowing in our face so hard the pebbles from the cinder track were stinging our shins. Rodreick turns to Dennis in the blocks and says " man the wind is blowin hard today"  Dennis, reply " Aint blowin in my lane"
The results of the race never in doubt.


I guess I didn't realize that John  was a "take no prisoners guy".  I wish I would have though.

I was training for an upcoming race and had not been satisfied with my times.  John (Perry) offered to come work out with me and I said ok.  We started running 220's on the track each one getting a little faster.  After several he was inching ahead of me and I pulled a muscle trying to keep up with him.  Man was I mad at myself for getting sucked into that.

Oh, did I mention that this was in Houston and I was 50 and he was probablly 46 at the time.  I was running on Exxon's track team and getting ready for a Corporate Cup event.  Thanks again John.
Billy Stone

Hi All
(from Dick Strand, Nebraska)
With all this conversation about track I accidentally ran across a youtube video of Tom O"Hara setting the World Indoor Mile Record in 1964 at the old Chicago Stadium in front of 18,000 screaming fans.  Here is the link

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vILN1xjV-rI

I remember this well as the next event was the mile relay and we were waiting trackside while Tom set his World Record and the crowd went wild.  The mile relay was delayed.  My memory is a little foggy here, but I believe you Cowboys were in the race too.  As I recall one of us won this evening and the results were reversed the next night in Milwaukee.

To: Dick Strand
I remember Tom O'Hara's race well. We were standing fairly close to the track because we were next to run. The video doesn't do it justice but watch it , 18,000 fans screaming so loud that it made your hair stand up.

Nebraska won the mile relay and our anchor man fell down and we were DNF. The next night, Dave anchored at the USTFF at Milwaukee and held off Dave Crook who tried to pass him on every straight. We had some great races, sorry that we missed Drake in 1964.

John Perry



Dave is right.  Hig thought we could do the impossible.

At the NCAA Outdoor in 1966, Hig wanted John, Tom, Mickey, and I to run the mile relay and we had NO CHANCE at all in the event.  Everyone had  3 rounds including the finals.  He wanted John and Tom and me  to run prelims, semis and finals  and run the same for the mile relay.

Even though I was the number 2 or 3 seed in the 880, ..I think John was #1, I screwed around and somehow got 5th and did not qualify for the semis.  It was a 10 lane track and i was in the 10th lane and broke at the back of the pack and coasted thinking I could make it up in the home stretch and save some energy, as we had to run the mile relay later in the day,  and fell  a stride short.

At the end of the day, we had to run the mile relay prelims.  Since I had screwed up and had no more races to run, HIG ran me lead off rather than anchor to get us a lead so the rest could run easier.

Tom and I conspired to screw up the handoff and we handed off out of the lane and dropped the baton and Tom nor the other two had to run...Tom acted pissed and gave me hell...lol...probably allowed  Tom and John  making All America.

I met Mel Zahn and some sports writers in the Elevator back at the dorm where we were all staying.
He looked at me and laughed and said,..."you guys were really bad actors"....It was so obvious...how could experienced relay runners like us run out of the lane and drop the baton.?

If Hig ever suspected anything he did not say anything about it.

Jim Metcalf.

from Billy Stone  
Here's one!

I won the 880 at the 1962 Big Eight meet in Lawrence.  It was at least 105 degrees on the track with gusty winds.  It was a tough field with the likes of Greg Pelster and Bill Rawson from Missouri, Kirk Hagan of KU who had won the year before and Bob Wilcox from OU,  You guys will call this slow, but I won and tied the KU stadium record in 150.1.  I was bushed.

I was slated to run the mile relay which, as you know, was only 2 events away from the 880.  When I saw Hig I told him that I was pretty spent, but would do my best.  Getting no sympathy, he said, "you'll have to, there is nobody else".  We were in the middle of the pack when I got the baton running my usual 3rd leg.  Ordinarily I could make up enough ground for Charlie to secure the win.  Not this day.  I did not think I would ever get to Charlie to hand off the baton.  We were in last place by a significant distance.

Charlie took off running to catch the pack but we were too far back.  When he saw that we were not going to score any points he eased up and coasted in.  Hig was furious with him.  He told him in no uncertain terms what he thought of that and told him he never wanted to see that again.

Although not then, it is a bit humorous now.  I had just run probably the slowest mile relay leg in OSU history and Charlie go chewed out.

(Billy Stone was one of the top half milers in the country in the early 60's.  One of the low points in his career was being missed by the judges in the 1961 NCAA semis and not moving on to the finals.  There were no official  finish photos taken of middle distance events then. He would not have beaten John Bork who dominated the event that year, but he should have been in the race.  ed.)

from Jim Metcalf
we were running the Two Mile relay my soph year, in Chicago, or NYC or somewhere...I forget...but they did not have a lap counter...and to this day, if I walk or jog around a track or a circle of any kind, I quickly lose track of the laps...since I get off into my head...
Well, I lost track and kicked a lap early.  I looked over my shoulder and thought I was really kicking ass....   I came around the curve to hand off to John and there was no one on the track...
That last lap was the longest of my life.
Jim

Billy,

Just for the record John P. broke your record at the Texas Relays in '65 for slowest quarter.  He turned in a blazing 60 sec lap & Hig waved me off the track on the anchor.  Whew!  If I had had to run I might own that record.
 David Perry

I think I own the record for the slowest mile split on a relay.

We ran the 4 mile relay when I was a Jr.  I think it was at kansas Relays.  I was not in shape for the mile as I had turned to the 880 after a  decent mile my Soph year.

I think Ray Smith and Chris McCubbins ran the first two legs and handed off to me even with  John Lawson from Kansas, who must have been licking his chops.  John was right at 4 minutes at that time and later broke 4 minutes and was a great 10,000 mm runner..he may have been national champion.

 I was a competitor and was determined to stay with him and he took me thru the 3/4 at about 3.03, or close to that..

I don't know his time, but their anchor, I think his name was Hayden or something like that, had already gone around the turn whenI  came in. I think I ran 4:21.  I think that last quarter was the most painful experience of my career...I can still see Tom waiting at the line for me to get to him, a look of disbelief on his face as he was all primed for a great dual on the anchor.


.if not that it was at the Texas Relays my senior year.

I anchored the sprint medley and could out run both my 220 men and my quater miler. I was  running against Jim Ryun and Ken Swenson..at least I was in the same race and they were long gone before I got the baton.  I ran 48...60...for 1:48 and we got third..but were disqualified for a hand off violation by the 220 guys.  That was a long, painful  last 440.  I think Ryun and Kansas ran 3:15 and he ran some ungodly time.

Jim Metcalf


from Billy Stone
One more, but not about an OSU runner.

Over spring break, I believe my junior year, we had a quadrangular meet with Nebraska, Kansas, I believe Drake, and OSU. In the 3 mile run Joe American Horse of Nebraska was killing the field. Harold Smith and John Haraughty were probably running for us. Running for Kansas was Billy Mills and Bill Dotson, as you know, both great runners. After about 2 miles Mills and Dotson were running together and were so far back that they could never have caught Joe. Obviously, they had no intention of even trying. At that point Bill Easton came running across the football field and yelled as loud as he could, "you two guys either speed up or get off the track". With no hesitation they got off the track and stopped.
Kansas coach Bill Easton

The look on Easton's face was priceless, and for probably for the first time ever he was also speechless.

  Billy

from David Perry
There was no one who could make Higgins madder than Easton.  Nor anyone he wanted to beat more.  Hig delighted in beating a Kansas team.

George,

I had never broken 2:00 for 880 when Hig told me that I was going to be an 880 guy. I ran 49.6 in high school in 1962 and was the Oklahoma State Champion. That actually wasn't that bad considering that we only had a 6 week season.

Anyway, Higgins took 4 guys who could barely break 2:00 and we all ran under 1:48 while at OSU. I have the workout sheets and we did get base training but not straight long distance runs.

We did this workout almost every day for 2 months starting in September. Jog to the cross country course ( about 1 1/2 miles, run 8 Striders, run 20 X 220's at 37 sec. with 220 jog. Run some more Striders and then jog back to Gallagher hall. On Sunday we took a 6 mile easy run.

George,

Just wanted to clarify the OSU Fall workouts. The 220's were at 35-37 range, just under 5 minute mile pace. We didn't run the 27 second 220 intervals until a month or so before indoor season. Most of the running was on grass at the Hillcrest Cross Country course. 

We did usually them in sets of 8, with a short walk, stretch, rest between sets. We did that workout almost every day. I think that Bowerman was the only coach at that time who alternated hard days with easy days.  

John Perry

Doesn't sound like a lot but the 20X 220 was 5 miles of continuous running with half of it at 5 minute mile pace. Counting the jogging, it was about 8 miles a day. That was the Fall of 1963, indoors in 1964, I ran the mile relay and 600 and got third in the Big 8 indoor in the 600 and we won the Indoor mile relay. I was the fourth best runner and could run just under 50 indoors.

Anyway, I beat Gil Gebo in 1:51.4 in the first outdoor competition 880 I ever ran in March 1964 and ran a dead heat with Bill Rawson in April with a1:50.3. However, that was about it and I didn't improve until the next year. Got third in the Big 8 and made it to the NCAA semi finals.

I think the repeat 220's are something that I would like to use on a promising 800M runner. I developed a very easy stride and could comfortably run the race pace required in the 1960's. (52 to 53 in a big race).

I went to OSU because I thought I could run faster under Higgins than I could with Bill Carroll who also offered me a scholarship.
John Perry

This from the Muskogee  Phoenix    April 15, 2009




John ,   I'd say Higgins really had an eye for talent and a plan.   But I bet he even surprised himself with the success that the four of you had.    No single runner was running as fast in the Midwest/Southwest as you guys each did.    Had he  been training horses, he'd have won the Triple Crown.  Your workouts look a bit like Igloi's workouts but only about 1/4 to 1/3 of one of his afternoons.  But Igloi was more into milers to 6 milers.  John Bork , the 1961  NCAA 880 champ trained with him, but did not improve after graduating from Western Michigan .   When I look at Bob Schul's workouts I wonder how he survived.

At OU the milers used to do intervals Mon,, Tues, Wed. Thurs.   220's one day, 1320's another, then a day of 440's and a day of 880's.   I think three seasons (XC, indoor, outdoor) is a bit much for distance runners.

Billy Calhoun was an 880 / miler in high school in Dayton, OH which is also where I come from.  He may have run one or two mile relays in high school.    But he was the first guy ever to break 50 sec. in Pneumonia Downs, the old indoor track under the OU football stadium running a 48.8.  Where that change came from , I have no idea.  He trained hard, and had he stuck to the 880 it's frightening to think what he might have accomplished.   He won the NCAA 440 indoors twice but never competed in the summer, because he had two children to support and came back to Dayton each summer to work in a General Motors plant.    I don't believe you can attribute all success  to coaching.  But I do  think you made the good choice at the moment.   Coach Carroll just gave us some workouts out of a book and didn't get too involved with motivation.  He was a pole vaulter and a recruiter, although he sure missed the boat with you.   More than once it's been said that the American work ethic killed a lot of distance runners who kept overtraining and not getting enough easy or rest periods.   In those days coaches were lucky to have an assistant or a grad assistant.   Now every DI team has a raft of assistants.   Bill once gave two scholarships to teammates of Randy Matson in Pampa TX, hoping Randy would come to OU.  Randy however chose Texas A&M.  We ended up with a 6' 2" high jumper and a 49.9 quarter miler.  Bill was a nice guy, but got out of the game after only a few years and went into banking in Okemah, OK where he did very well.

It's really nice learning of all your history.  I'm sure some of the 65 years and older readers of our blog will totally enjoy your words and history.  This is one of the best series of conversations we've ever put on this blog.

Best,

George Brose

From another former 2 mile relay WR record holder, Ernie Cunliffe
OSU DID break our  outdoor world record in the 2 mile relay, but it was Oregon State not Oklahoma State
that did it.  I was in the race running for the S. Calif Striders with Jim Dupree, one of the Farlow twins, maybe both of them and Oregon State kicked our butts, no thanks to me who ran a poor leg.  Think it was
1963 at the Modesto Relays, thus a few years before Ralph Higgins interview.  The World Record previously was the one set in 1960  US vs the British Commonwealth team who won the race but did not get credit since the 4 runners were from different countries.  The US team was myself, Tom Murphy, Jack
Yerman and Jerry Siebert who ran a tough leg vs Peter Snell.

In the early 60's Oklahoma State was blessed with two other great runners Charlie Strong and Billy Stone






This book about Chris McCubbins was published in 2013 by J. Gordon Shillingford press.   Written by Joe Mackintosh.  Chris was on the OSU team in the mid sixties and won the NCAA Steeplechase.  He also won the Pan Am Games Steeplechase in 1967.  Met a girl in Canada that year and after serving his time in the US Army, moved to Canada and became a Canadian citizen.  He represented Canada in the 76 Olympics.  I met him in Montreal in 1975 at the pre -Olympic meet at Kent Park.  I remember having a brief chat with him at that meet not having seen him in almost ten years.  Chris became a running legend in Manitoba where he settled.  He passed away August 21, 2009 a victim of leukemia.  ed.  









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