Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vol. 1 No. 25 August, 1956

Now it is August, 1956. The Olympic Trials are over, but the games themselves are three months off. OK, not all the spots on the team were decided last month. The decathlon team has been decided in a separate meet. Rafer Johnson edges Milt Campbell as “the two 6’3” 200 pound Negro giants” score 7755 and 7559. Bob Richards, already on the team in the PV, takes third at 7054…….The often mentioned JW Mashburn finally appears in a photo, winning the NCAA over John Haines of Penn. Last month’s issue had the margin as .00. Looks like a good foot to me.……The US top ten listing shows a weakness in the distances. No American has broken 9:00 for two miles or the steeplechase.
Much of this issue is devoted to the European Report where the distance runners are heating up. Hungary’s Istvan Rozsavolgyi, the holder of WRs at 1000 meters (2:19.0) and 2000 meters (5:02.2), splits the difference and adds the 1500 to his list with a 3:40.6. Countryman Sandor Iharos runs 10K in 28:42.8 to obliterate Emil Zatopek’s last WR by 13 seconds. Throw in Gordon Pirie, Vladimir Kuts and the great Zatopek himself and the distances could be the highlight of the OGs.
Willie Williams, the best sprinter on the planet not to be competing in Melbourne, and Ira Murchison, who will, both run 10.1 in a meet in Berlin. Williams did it twice, semis and final. Officials say all three marks will be submitted for ratification and should be accepted.
The Olympic team’s competition schedule has been set: October 13 in Berkeley, Oct. 20 in Santa Ana, Oct. 27 in Ontario, CA and a final tune up in Eugene on Sept. 3. The games don’t begin until late November. How do you fill the remaining 2 ½ months?
Ron Delany told the press that Ireland may not have enough money to send him to Australia. I can see it now, collection jars in pubs throughout the land.
Third place finisher in the steeplechase, Horace Ashenfelter, says that he won’t compete in the OG unless he feels he is in top shape.
Dave Sime says that his muscle pull was not due to a lack of curve running as previously reported. He ran the curve twice a week during the season. Though obviously disappointed, he is planning for next year. He is quoted as saying that he will go to summer school to get ahead in credits so that he can have free time to run indoors and “After baseball ends in late May I’ll switch to track again”. Baseball? Baseball?
There are five Profiles of Champions, the sort of outline derived by the athlete answering a questionnaire. Of note is that Phil Conley has to be the best athlete to wear a Cal Tech uniform. Okay, that is like being the skinniest fat girl, but this guy is damn good. His yearly javelin progression in college has been 176, 199, 231 and 244. He has a pretty good resume in other sports. In high school he was number one man on the league champion tennis team. The way it is worded, I can only guess the following were in college. He was the second team all conference quarterback and led the conference in total yards one year. In basketball he was first team all conference center one year; second team another, leading the team in scoring both years. In baseball he hit .345 and .375 before giving up the sport for track.
Other profiles include George Shaw, Walter Thane Baker, Phil Coleman, Jerome Walters and Kenneth Bantum. Particularly noteworthy: Thane Baker was inspired by hometown hero Glenn Cunningham and began running in the second grade at Elkhart Grade School in Elkhart, Kansas His best high school hundred was 10.1 in 1949. His yearly progression at Kansas State College was 9.9 and 21.6; 9.7 and 21.0; 9.5, 20.8 and 48.1; 9.4, 20.4 and 47.1. He won the Big Seven 100 and 220 three times. Ken Bantum (6-6, 235, Negro, dark brown hair and eyes, 21) started as a hurdler. Progressed from 34’ for the 12 pound shot and 25 for the 16 to 53-7 and 48 (in practice) by the time he graduated from Ozone Park HS in New York. Phil Coleman ran a 6:58 mile in high school PE class, then ran three races as a 16 year old senior with a best of 5:00. Then it was off to So. Illinois where he ran 4:37 and 10:07 as a freshman. By his senior season in 1952, he had run 4:15.3, 9:27 and 14:58 for 1, 2 and 3 miles. George Shaw trains three days a week, 12 months a year. He bounds up and down the infield about four times each way. “Then in and out 150’s or 220’s, five of them.” He also takes three full jumps each week. Jerome Walters, an LA county probation officer, got his start as a 10th grader in Compton where he ran a 2:13 on a bet. (You are a 10th grader who just ran 2:13 without training? Come here, young man, we need to talk about your future.) He was 1947 California state champ at 1:57.6 as a junior. As a senior, he ran 1:58.4 and 4:21.4 (second in state meet). He was undefeated in two years of high school cross country.
Some things never change: You can still join the TFN Olympic Tour for $1469 and, yes, Clifford Severn is still selling Adidas (“9 world records in 1955”).

Note from Ernie Cunliffe:
NFO. George, I hate to tell you but I ran 2:06 my jr year with no training, so Jerome Walters wasn't unique. At least they didn't call
him a thin Negro !!

No comments:

V 8 N. 43 Book Review "My Marathon, Reflections on a Gold Medal Life" by Frank Shorter and John Brant

To read an autobiography of someone who was a contemporary, though miles above one's own abilities in the sport of long distance runni...