FEBRUARY 1966Before we tell you about indoor activity in the US, we must report what is going on outdoors in Australia where a new talent has burst on the scene. John Coyle's best 5000 previous to this season had been 14:13.8. In December he proved he belonged with the big boys by placing third to Kip Keino and Ron Clarke in humid conditions with a 13:51.6, a race in which he led on the tenth lap. In early January he followed Clarke to another huge improvement, lowering his PR to 13:37.0, a time that would have placed him sixth on last year's world list.
On at John Landy Field in Geelong, Australia, he takes on his buddy, Clarke, over two miles. Clarke, never afraid to lead, tows the plucky Coyle through the mile in 4:14.0. The pace quickens, but Clarke can't break Coyle who is running the race of his life. As they enter the straight, Clarke has built up an eight yard margin, but Coyle closes steadily to edge the Aussie icon at the tape, 8:24.8 to 8:25.2. The 24 year old teacher now ranks third on the all time list, only 2.6 seconds behind Michel Jazy.
Clarke and Coyle have a friendship that transcends track and field. These guys play golf every . Clarke says that he had never beaten Coyle until last week when he topped him 40-42 over nine holes. Today's race might be looked at as returning that favor.
Back in the US the indoor season is going full steam. So sit back, close your eyes and imagine the pounding of feet on a wooden track. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.
On a crowd of 16,000 gathers in Madison Square Garden for the 59th edition of the Millrose Games. The hope that John Pennel will become the first indoor vaulter to clear 17 feet isn't realized. With victory assured with his 16-5 clearance, Pennel goes for 17, but all the spectator wishing in the world doesn't help. Three misses produce three loud aaahs from the crowd. Not to worry says John. He will do it as he is going for 17 in every meet this year.
Steeplechase world record holder Gaston Roelants has been treated roughly on his US tour. This day he is not to be deterred. He trails impressive Tom Laris for a mile and a quarter before taking over the two mile. He wins in 8:40.6 with Laris second, tying his PR of 8:42.2, and Tracy Smith third in his PR of 8:42.6.
Kip Keino, sans his famous orange cap, holds off UCLA's Bob Day in the mile 4:03.9 to 4:04.2.
Two nights later, 215 miles up I-90E, the 77th annual Boston AA meet produces fast times at odd distances. Sam Perry, the Fordham flash (apologies to Frankie Frisch), wins the 50 in 5.3. Southern freshman Willie Davenport edges Leon Coleman in the 45 yard hurdles in 5.4. Theron Lewis misses his own 11 lap to the mile 440 record by two tenths in 48.0. Tom Farrell follows Olan Cassell through a 49.5 quarter in the 600 before taking over to win in 1:09.5, just a tenth off Jack Yerman's American record. Englishman David Hemery, a Boston College student, and Cassell finish in 1:09.8 and 1:09.9, making this the first time three have beaten . John Lawson and Tracy Smith clock personal bests in the 2 mile with Lawson winning 8:39.8 and Smith shaving four tenths off his Millrose time to finish in 8:42.2.
On the same evening in Portland there is an even better two mile. Bob Day shows no ill effects from having competed in New York two days before. He follows Gerry Lindgren through a 4:15.0 mile before exhibiting his superior speed to pull away for an 8:33.0 to 8:34.0 victory and a collegiate record. The previous mark had been 8:41.0 set by Lindgren last year.
Neal Steinhauer came onto the national scene in this meet last year with a shot put effort of 61-5. This day he throws 61-4½. No one is too excited as all this earns him is second place behind the 62-9½ of Perry O'Brien who was winning Olympic gold medals while Steinhauer was still in grade school.
As good as the previously mentioned events were, the high jump is more dramatic. Otis Burrell, Max Lowe and Gene Johnson all clear 7-1½, but Burrell isn't done. He goes over 7-2¼ and then takes a shot at Valeriy Brumel's world record of 7-4½. Otis is a confident guy. Instead of having the bar set at 7-4¾, he has it at 7-5¼. After two misses, he barely misses a third attempt, narrowly clipping the bar with his knee on the descent. Had the bar been a half inch lower would he have made it? Though that might be a subject for discussion the next time the gang gathers at the Dew Drop Inn, we will never know.
USA v G. Britain indoor 1965 Jeff Chase seen vaulting in this clip along with other events.It is and we are back in Madison Square Garden for the Knights of Columbus meet where the middle distances take the spotlight. Tom Farrell tops Ergas Leps by a tenth in the 1000 in 2:08.7. Leps' Canadian teammate, Bill Crothers, wins the 880 1:51.8, the season's fastest time.New Zealander John Davies takes the mile easily in 4:04.2 while countryman Bill Baillie comes home in 8:44.2 to win the two mile.Triple jumper Art Walker can manage only two fair jumps but both – 53-2 and 53-0½ – top his US record 52-10 set earlier this season.The next night the show moves to Philadelphia for the Inquirer Games where the 12 lap to the mile track is just too tight to run fast. Case in point: John Davies follows a 66.2, 2:14.4, 3:20.1 pace before kicking home in 55.0 to win the mile in 4:15.1.That same evening in the Seattle Invitational there are quality marks but not many. Jim Grelle outkicks Bob Day by a second in the mile, winning in 4:02.8. Gerry Lindgren takes the two mile in 8:39.8, lapping the field except for Doug Brown.
Jeff Chase is voted the outstanding performer for his PR 16-6¼ vault, third on the all time indoor list. The voting for this award must have been close because Parry O'Brien shows his new found old man strength to put the shot 63-9, only an inch from his best and third best ever indoors.
Two weeks ago Madison Square Garden held 16,000 for the Millrose Games. But on most of the crowd is disguised as empty seats. Only 6593 are in attendance for the first USTFF meet. They are rewarded by seeing Jim Ryun's 56.1 last quarter in his 4:01.6 mile victory. The other precocious teenager, Gerry Lindgren, goes out hard in the two mile, leading at the mile in 4:17.8 with Tom Laris in close pursuit. Lindgren who says he had never heard of Laris before, gets an introduction as the veteran kicks past to win handily, 8:40.2 to 8:41.4. Say hello to Tom, Gerry.
|Tom Laris running for Dartmouth|
Not all the meets are on the coasts. This same night the Will Rogers Games are held in Fort Worth where the crowd of 7100 see an attempt by John Pennel to better his pole vault world record of 16-9¼ . They see the record challenged, but surprisingly not by Pennel. After 11 consecutive victories, Pennel is having troubles. He misses his first attempt at 15-0 then passes to 15-6 where he misses twice more and is out. This gives him plenty of time to watch Jeff Chase clear 15, 15-6, 16 and 16-6 on his first attempts before failing to clear 16-9½.
|Martin McGrady on left besting Lee Evans at 600 yards in 1969|
A week ago times were slow in the Inquirer Games because of the tight turns on the 12 lap to the mile track., , the track gods make up for that with the sweeping turns of the 8 lap to the mile track in Louisville's Mason-Dixon Games. Nineteen year old Central State sophomore Martin McGrady seizes this advantage to break the world record at 600 yards, clocking 1:09.0 to better Wendell Mottley's 1:09.2. Also breaking the record, but not getting credit for it, is Ollen Cassell who runs 1:09.1. McGrady has to share world record honors with the Southern University mile relay team who ride Robert Johnson's 46.1 anchor to a 3:11.1 clocking, tying the mark set last year on the same track by Texas Southern.
|Brian Oldfield , the early years|
For future reference, second in the shot put this evening is a kid from Middle Tennessee State, Brian Oldfield, who throws 57-7.
If ever an award for consistency was deserved, it should go to Jeff Chase. he has his “worst” mark of the season, 16-5¾. His other two performances have been 16-6 and 16-6¼. As you will soon see, this is not his only reason to be disappointed at the end of the evening.
In Los Angeles this same evening 13,477 fans pack the Sports Arena for the seventh Los Angeles Times Games. None of them leave disappointed, for this is the best meet of the season.
Last night's performance in Fort Worth was a painful experience for John Pennel. He is determined to right the ship . The immediate problem is his roommate, Bob Seagren, who clears 15-6 and 16-0 on his first jumps while Pennel has a miss at 15-6 to fall behind. Both struggle at 16-5, clearing on their third attempts. With the bar at a record 16-10, both miss their first two jumps. Separation happens on the third try. Seagren misses and Pennel clears. Not only does Pennel extend his world record, but Seagren is stuck doing the laundry for the next month.
The fields in every event reflect the money spent to provide quality competition. The long jump is an excellent example. Olympic champion Lynne Davies of Great Britain is here. So is former world record holder Igor Ter-Ovanesyan of the USSR. Finland's Rainer Stenius, a long time world ranked competitor, and Arizona's Gail Hopkins make up the field.
Phil, who made those shoes?
No one excites the crowd more that Hopkins with jumps of 27-2 and 26-6. Unfortunately both are slight fouls. His best legal jump of 26-1¾ loses by the length of the cuticle on your little finger, as Davies wins at 26-2. Ter-0vanesyan, 25-9¼ , and Stenius, 25-1¼, finish third and fourth.
The event of the meet, at least on the track, is the two mile, an event that has cost meet director Glenn Davis (yes, Doc Blanchard's Army teammate) $5000. Track and Field News Athlete of the Year, Ron Clarke is here. So is the latest distance phenom, Kip Keino. UCLA's Bob Day has the fastest time in the world this year, 8:33.0, run last month when he beat Gerry Lindgren in Portland. Yep, there he is on the starting line. World class Lajos Mecser of Hungary and Viktor Kudinskiy of the USSR add depth. Bill Baille of New Zealand is always tough. Tracy Smith has three sub clockings this year. They are all in this race.No one wants to press the pace, so the mlle is passed in with the field packed closely behind Clarke, Day and Keino. Clarke throws in a few surges, but they are quickly covered, though no one wants to take the lead. With three laps (480 yards) to go, the field is no more than ten yards apart. Somebody has to make a break soon. It is just a question of who. On the backstretch Baillie goes to the afterburners. The field responds, but it is a question of too little, too late. Baillie wins in 8:37.4 with Clarke a full second back. Kudinskiy finshes faster than anyone, but can only get third in 8:40.0, edging Day, 8:40.2, and Keino, 8:40.8. Smith and Mecser finish in 8:42.0 and 8:42.6.
Maryland's Jim Grelle wins the mile easily in 4:03.1 over John Camien, 4:04.4 and New Zealand's John Davies. Wait a minute. Maryland's Jim Grelle? Well, it would seem so. The veteran Oregon grad forgot his uniform and had to borrow high jumper Frank Costello's. Imagine that conversation. “Uh, Frank, are you all done with your uni
? Well, if so.......”
Jim Grelle. Is that a Terrapin Singlet?
The next week, , we return to Madison Square Garden where Tom Farrell's 880 record is saved by the fact that at the last minute, Farrell is unable to compete. The proposed match between Farrell and Canada's Bill Crothers is reduced to a time trial for Crothers. He takes a good shot, but comes up just short, 1:50.0 to 1:49.8.Frank Costello wins the high jump at 7-0 and doesn't loan Grelle his “lucky uniform”. Whether this is why Grelle loses a lean at the tape race to Jim Ryun, 4:02.2 for both, will never be known.The best field event is the long jump where Ter-Ovanesyan produces the longest jump of the indoor season, 26-5 to beat Lynn Davies' 26-1½..
One last minute report before the issue goes to press gives hope for the future. On the following day in the Achillies Invitational in Vancouver, Perry O'Brien puts the shot 64-0, a lifetime best. The kid may have a future in the sport. Stay tuned.