Once Upon a Time in the Vest Dictionary of Concise Thought, Irrational and Irreverent Opinion.
In the British Commonwealth , every athlete might be considered a Walk On , because athletic scholarships aren't given to anyone, in fact readers from other countries probably have no idea what we are talking about. Then too our own Ivy League schools (Dartmouth, Harvard, Brown, Princeton, Cornell, Yale, Penn) supposedly do not offer athletic scholarships, but they certainly do some recruiting to get good athletes into their programs. Some of you might disqualify a person from being a walk on if a coach sent a letter of encouragement or made a phone call , or an electronic communication. I tend to discount that aspect, but if someone wants to come up here to Vancouver Island and get into a shouting match with me, they are most welcome, and by the way when you cross the border would you please bring a couple of bottles of duty free wine, a box of Ritz Crackers and some Cheez Whiz? Actually several examples came to us that were completely out of this framework, such as Delano Meriwether, M.D. and Michelline Ostermeyer, but we have chosen to accept them into this exclusive club, because their stories are just so darned interesting. And now, on with the show.
Steve Price, former Bowling Green St. U. Women's Cross Country and Track coach sent this:
For what it's worth : Kristen (nee Gaddis) was third/fourth girl on her Worthington, Ohio cross-country team in the late eighties/early nineties. She was a walk on at BGSU and in 1995 was All-Ohio collegiate champion and part of the team that qualified for the NCAA Championships....making it the first team from the MAC Conference to do so.
Here's what Sports-Reference has on Chuck Smith
Chuck Smith won the AAU 200 in 1972. He also placed sixth in the 1971
AAU and the 1970 NCAA.
Personal Bests: 100y – 9.3 (1971); 100 – 10.2 (1972); 200 – 20.55 (1972).
Munich 200 5th.
Wikipedia posts the following about his career:
JANE RAMIG BROOKER
Hey, this demoisselle has quite a story according to Wikipedia
|Lowell Paul and Dave Wottle laying|
some hurt on each other. This photo appeared in the New York Times
a few years ago misidentifying Lowell as Rick Wohlhutter.
Lowell's daughter set them straight very quickly.
Hello. My friend and team mate at Mizzou, Don Hoelting, was a 4:32 high school miler, (Duchense H.S., St. Charles, MO) and walk on. By his senior year he was 4th/5th man on our Big 8 XC championship team, 6th place team NCAA XC championships, and in the spring of 1971, as a senior, ran 13:38-39 three mile on the track. Were you within about 15 yards of him in the last 300 you were doomed; he had a vicious, vicious kick! Kerry
My second-best walk on was Lewis Johnson (now announcing the big track and field meets for television) who dropped out of track for two years after running 51.5 in HS. He then ran the 400 for two years, about 48.8 before switching to the 800 M. where he ran 1:47.00 and placed 8th in the NCAA Div. I meet at LSU in 1987.
|Lewis Johnson on the Job|
Here's a Walk In story from J.D. Martin who coached over 35 years at U. of Oklahoma.
Last year after picking up the current OU Track and Field media guide, I was browsing through the list of former letterwinners. Up came the name of Filbert Bayi in the late 70's. Filbert Bayi was one of the premier milers in the world and had once held the world record in that event. Then I see that he earned a letter at OU years after setting the record. This had to be an interesting story and certainly J.D. was the man to provide background. How did he get to OU, how many Mercedes did J.D. have to buy him, how's come he didn't retake the mile record with J.D.'s coaching? Like any newsman, you go to the source. So here's J.D.'s reply.
George, here's the poop on Filbert.
It starts with me hiring a distance coach from Eastern New Mexico named Bill Silverberg.
He had a reputation of getting Kenyans and other foreign runners.
Anyway, after he was with me for awhile he asked what travel agency we used to fly kids to school. I told him none, as that is a NCAA violation. He wanted to know how I expected him to bring athletes here from Kenya or Tanzania. That was my first clue that he had his own ways of playing the game and he scared me to death.
Later that year Kenyan's began showing up on campus. Most could not get into school
and were sent along to JR. Colleges. One young 18 year old ran for a couple of years but didn't make much of an impact.
But one day out of the blue and a surprise to Silverberg, Filbert walked into our office.
He knew Silverberg and had heard that he was recruiting for us. He just decided to
come over and see if he could go to school and run for us. All legit.
He ran cross country for us but had some injury problems and was never able to perform
up to his abilities. After one semester he decided to transfer to UTEP where most of his
buddies were and the climate was more like home.
One day later I get a call from a local travel agency wanting to know when we were going to pay the bill for the flights from Africa......(not Filbert)
After getting up off the floor Silverberg and I had a little discussion about him working somewhere else and told him he had a large bill at the travel agency.
He moved on and I don't know if the bill was ever paid.
Filbert was as great person. It is a shame he didn't stay longer and get healthy.
That is the Filbert Bayi story.
JOHN GUTKNECHT AND QUENTIN BRELSFORD
|Quentin Brelsford Ohio Wesleyan U.. winning the 1946 NCAA|
Cross Country Meet against the big boys
JIM ALLEN AND JEFF ALLEN
We've recently been in contact with Jim Allen (Washington State) and from this email it seems that he more than deserves to be on the all walk on team. Here's his credentials:
Interesting project. I suspect some of the best "track walk-ons" could have been football players on scholarship seeking to avoid Spring Ball by turning out for track. In the early to mid 60's, Mel Renfro at Oregon and Henry Carr at Arizona State come to mind.
I was a walk-on at Washington State University in 1960. Thought it was a good way to satisfy my semester PE class requirement. Three years later (1963) I was Bronze Medalist in the 440 yard intermediate hurdles at the NCAA Championships at Albuquerque and awarded All-American status by the NCAA. A week later I was Silver Medalist in the same event at the AAU National Championships in St. Louis and selected to the USA Team as one of the two intermediate hurdlers that travelled to Europe to compete against the National Teams of Russia, Poland, Germany and Great Britain/Northern Ireland.
I was also Conference Champion (what is now the Pac 12 Conference) in the Intermediate Hurdles in 1964.
Might be worth an honorable mention.
Jim: This is much better than honorable mention. Furthermore I think that your son Jeff Allen deserves a place on the team. He played football at Stanford but had been 300IH state champ in Washington.. He told me he came out for track under Vin Lannana about his junior or senior year and filled in on relays for a season or two, and when one of their 4x400 guys was unable to run in the finals at the NCAA championships he moved in and ran a sub 47 leg, the team scored points and he made All American, so you guys are the only father-son combo on our list. Can anyone confirm Mel Renfro and Henry Carr's walk on status? George
Rick Lower suggested that Otis Davis should be considered a walk on.
Otis Davis transferred over from basketball at U. of Oregon to the track program and went on to win the Olympic 400 meters in Rome in World Record time in only the tenth 400m of his career.
the following from wikipedia
at the age of 28, Davis made the U.S. Olympic team. He ran his fastest time to date one week before participating in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome as one of the oldest members of the track team, where he was nicknamed "Pops" by his teammates. According to Davis, "I was still learning how to turn with the staggered starts and all. I was still learning the strategy involved. I was still learning how to run in the lanes." Wiki also relates that on his first day on the track he high jumped 6'0' and long jumped over 23'. Won the PCC meet that year in the 220 and 440. No info whether he was on an athletic scholarship coming from basketball to track, but it is likely his being a four year Air Force veteran, he was probably getting G.I. Bill money and it cost neither the basketball program nor the track program very much if anything.
|Bill Blewett on the pole with some fairly illustrious company|
Just as I was ready to do this posting, Bill Blewett's name came to mind. Bill is not exactly a household name in track and field, but his story certainly is a good example of a classic walk on. Bill was from Lawton OK and never broke 5:00 minutes for a mile in high school yet his shop teacher Dee Givens frequently talked about his years of running at OU. He was a 9.3 100 yard sprinter and made the Olympic Trials finals in 1960. Bill came out for cross country his freshman year at OU and broke 5:00 minutes three times in his first workout there. He went on to run a sub 4:10 mile while at OU and sub 14:00 three mile after graduation.
And now for our last but by no means least , member nominee for great walk ons in university sports or otherwise. Bob Schul, Olympic Champion , 5000 meters, 1964.
In Bob's autobiography, "In the Long Run" he recounts that he did not go to college straight out of high school. He instead worked for a year in a factory in Dayton, Ohio. The following season he enrolled at Miami University and showed up at cross country practice. Coach George Rider recognized him as having been a decent high school runner (4:34 mile) and welcomed him to the team. Whether he got any assistance that Fall for cross county is not mentioned in the book, but until that is disputed, Bob will be on the list.
Gabrielle Anderson Minnesota
Eileen Donaghy Minnesota
Kristin Gaddis Bowling Green
Lowell Paul Kansas
Bob Schul Miami of Ohio
Lewis Johnson Cincinnati
David Payne Cincinnati
Chris Wineberg Cincinnati
John Gutknecht Ohio Wesleyan
Quentin Brelsford Ohio Wesleyan
John Bork Western Michigan
Don Hoelting Missouri
Henry Carr* Arizona State
Mel Renfro* Oregon
Special Category "I didn't recruit him but he came anyway and I gave him a scholarship"
Filbert Bayi U. of Oklahoma
Special Category "father and son"
Jim Allen Washington State
Jeff Allen Stanford
Special Category "I never did this before"
Michelline Ostermeyer Conservatoire de Paris (concert pianist)
Chuck Smith Occidental (swimmer)
Dr. Delano Meriwether Michigan State, Duke Medical School (academic/medical doctor)
Jane Ramig Brooker Cedarville University (cheerleader)
Otis Davis U. of Oregon (basketball)
Don't let this list remain static; send your additions and anecdotes in to firstname.lastname@example.org or add in to the comments at the end of this article.