Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vol. 1 No. 23June, 1956

It's the long awaited June 1956 issue and it is the best of issues and the worst of issues. The month is full of big meets (good), but the issue is so full of the reports of these meets that no room is left for columns, the fun stuff (bad).

Let's run through the schedule. June 8 &9 the NCAAs are held at Berkeley. June 15-16 sees the Inter-Service Meet at the Coliseum. Bakersfield hosts the AAU on June 22-23. The biggie of course is the Olympic Trials, correctly described as “the greatest meet in the history of track and field” also at the Coliseum the following weekend, June 29-30.


UCLA edges Kansas 57.5 to 51 as favored USC falls to third with 34 points. Bobby Morrow wins both sprints at 10.4 and 20.6. After finishing second in the 100 at 10.6, Dave Sime pulls up in the 200 and is done for the year. Mention is made of the fact that this is the first race he has ever run around a curve and that he had never run a curve until practice the previous week. JW Mashburn edges John Haines of Penn by .00 (?) as they both run 46.4. Foreigners dominate the 1500 as Ron Delany - “the bog trotting Villanovan” - finishes in 54.1 to edge Oregon's and Australia's Jim Bailey (54.6) to win in 3:47.6. UCLA's victory is due in large part to a 1-2 finish in the discus by Ron Drummond and Don Vick as favorite Al Oerter throws only 168-9 to place fourth. Had Oerter equaled his season best of 183-5, he would have won by ten feet and the team title would have gone to Kansas. Rafer Johnson's second in the hurdles and broad jump supply 16 UCLA points. Ken Bantum of Manhattan becomes the third 60 foot shotputter by half an inch to take the title over Bill Nieder. Lee Calhoun takes the highs in 13.7. Aubrey Lewis of Notre Dame wins his dual with Glenn Davis as Davis goes out too fast and Lewis passes the “pooped Ohio Stater” at the last hurdle to win by half a second in a meet record of 51.0. Morrow's efforts not withstanding, Pitt's Arnie Sowell might have run the most dominate race of the day, winning the 800 by 2.5 seconds over Lang Stanley with a national record of 1:46.7.

The Inter-Service Championship

Without professional competition many athletes extended their track careers after college by running on service teams. Lou Jones beats Jim Lea in the 400 45.7 to 46.0 with Tom Courtney well back at 46.7. Don't worry about Courtney though. He wins the 800 by a second and a half over Lon Spurrier in 1:47.1. Perry O'Brien breaks his WR with a 61-4 effort and also wins the discus. Oh, and there is a Wes Santee sighting. Though ineligible for AAU competition, he can run in this meet. He takes the 1500 in 3:47.3.


Jack Davis sets a WR in a heat of the highs at 13.4, then takes third in the final which Lee Calhoun wins easily in 13.6. Bobby Morrow once again runs 10.2. Thane Baker takes a Morrowless 200 in 20.6. Tom Courtney and Arnie Sowell preview a prospective great 800 next week in the Oly Trials. Courtney dominates the 400 in 45.8 to win by .7 while Sowell easily handles a good 800 field in 1:47.6. The big news in the field events is Ken Bantum handing Perry O'Brien a rare defeat, throwing 59-1 to win by two inches. The Olympic team seems a long shot for Al Oerter as once again he fails to reach 170 and finishes sixth. Rafer Johnson keeps busy, running the 200 LH in 22.83, .03 behind Charlie Pratt. Ernie Shelby, “a compact Negro”, broad jumps 26-1+.

The Olympic Trials

As mentioned, this had to be considered the greatest meet to date. Bobby Morrow ties the WR with 10.2 and 20.6 performances but is overshadowed by Charlie Dumas who becomes the first seven foot high jumper with a 7-01/2 and Glenn Davis, no longer a pooped Ohio Stater, who blows the doors off the intermediate WR of 50.4 with an amazing 49.5. Davis needed this Herculian effort as Texas freshman Eddie Southern is right there at 49.7. Lou Jones, whose fastest 400 of the year had been 47.8 three weeks ago, ties his WR of 45.2 to beat Lea by half a second and establish himself as “the greatest 400 runner of all time”. Not to worry, though JW Mashburn doesn't make the 400 team, he places 4th, earning a spot on the 4x4. The long awaited match up of Courtney and Sowell is decided in the home straight as Courtney powers home in 1:46.4, the second fastest time ever, to beat Sowell by half a second with Spurrier getting the final spot on the team a full second behind Sowell. Davis and Calhoun tie at 13.8 in the highs. And just when it appears Al Oerter is done, he rebounds to make the team with a second place 178-7 throw.

Apparently the rest of the world is still hasn't given up track. England's Gordon Pirie thumps Russia's Vladimir Kuts by nearly three seconds while breaking Sandor Iharos' 5,000 record with a 13:36.8, thereby establishing himself as the favorite in the 5 and 10K in Melbourne.

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