Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vol. 1 No. 26 October 1956

I don’t have the September issue so obviously some information, including the results of the four US tune-up meets, has gone missing. Additionally, I don’t have the November issue, so this will be it before the games begin.
European distance runners are setting the tone. Sandor Rozsnyoi, the world record holder at 1000, 1500 and 2000, adds a fourth WR with an 8:35.6 steeplechase. Four distance WRs makes him the second coming of Henry Rono. Oops, make that the first coming. This is not to say that Rozsynoi is unbeatable. Gordon Pirie jumps on the WR bandwagon by beating Rozsynoi at 3000 in 7:52.8 to Roz’s 7:53.4. Pirie previously set the 5000 WR of 13:36.8. But wait, the records continue to come. Vladimir Kuts of Russia just ran 28:30.4 at 10K to break Sandor Iharos’ record by 12 seconds. Throw in Iharos, England’s Chris Chataway, who recently finished a 5000 with a 38.8 300, and the great Emil Zatopek and the Melbourne distances look to provide great entertainment. Zatopek was recently operated on for a hernia and is reportedly in poor shape. He will concentrate on the marathon though he may run the 10K on the opening day as a “warm up”.
The middle distances are equally unpredictable. Ireland’s Ron Delany has the world’s fastest mile this year, 3:59.0, but was beaten by England’s Derek Ibbotson at 1500. 3:44.4 to 3:44.6. Rozsnyoi’s 3:40.6 makes him the favorite, but with so much time left before the Nov. 23 start of the games, one wonders who will maintain fitness and who will be run out. Norway’s 1:46.4 man, Audun Boysen, undefeated at 800 and the prime competition for Sowell and Courtney, says he will pass on the Olympics. The guess here is that they conflict with ice fishing season.
Two American throwers have suddenly put themselves in medal contention. Bud Held set the national record in the javelin with a 270 foot toss. Hal Connolly did him one better, breaking the WR in the hammer at 218-10+. With our contingent in the shot and discus, the throws should go well for the US.
The high school list fills a page and a half. Jerry White of Corcoron, CA is tied for the lead in the 100 with 9.5 and dominates the 440 at 46.7, but oddly is not listed at 220. He did make the list in the 880 at 1:55.6 . Speaking of the 880, the leader is Jerry Siebert of Willits, CA. I am fascinated by this guy. Willits is a town of 5000, 25 miles north of Ukiah, in the middle of nowhere. Many years ago I stopped by to see the records posted in the gym. He held (and I guarantee you he still does) the 220, 880 and mile, but oddly, not the 440 which wasn’t anything special. As he was a stalwart on those great Cal mile relay teams, I found this strange. Hayes Jones hurdled 14.3 for a tie for seventh fastest mark. Willie White of LA Jefferson leads the lows at 18.9 along with being tied with four others for the 100 lead at 9.5. He is not the only LA Jefferson national leader. Oscar Bean broad jumped 25-4+. Jefferson lead the country in the 880 relay at 1:25.9. They definitely had some sprinters. The quartet is pictured. Bean isn’t one. Jeff also lead the 8 man mile relay (don’t ask) at 2:56.3. (Just did some research on Jefferson as I don’t remember the school being mentioned in any sports context in recent years. Apparently it has been restructured without sports.) In a burst of record keeping accuracy, Marv Sturgeon of Cannelton, IN is listed as 13th in the 880 at 1:55.8, but in a section at the end of the lists entitled “Other Events” is credited with an 800 mark of 1:52.5. Apparently conversions were frowned upon at that time.
Page 10 has a photograph of five pole vaulters. Bob Richards, a Long Beach guy, is shown wearing an LB Poly shirt with the script green on faded gold “Poly” just as I remember it from my Poly days.
Lots of columns, the fun stuff: Track Talk (Cordner Nelson), On Your Marks, Bank Notes (Dick Banks) and So They Tell Me (Bert Nelson). On Your Marks (no author mentioned) mentions that five soon to be US college athletes will be competing for Jamaica: George Kerr, Ernie Haisley, Keith Gardener and the Spence twins, Mel and Mal. O’Brien’s shot and discus double in Eugene was the best ever. Not having last month’s issue, we don’t know what it was. Houston’s cross country success is assured for the near future as John Macy and Jerry Smart have just enrolled. Ohio State coach Larry Snyder is in India “helping to train the Olympic squad there.” Was he the coach or did he just happen to be in the neighborhood?
Track Talk is principally about a book on nutrition, “Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit” by Adelle Davis. “Lack of protein causes flabbiness of muscles and ligaments. Too little fat in the diet can cause overweight.” And a bunch of other stuff. Looked it up on It is out of print, but you can still get copies. Hardback goes for $205, paperback $80.
So They Tell Me informs us that “Perry O’Brien now utilizes slick soled track shoes – absolutely no spikes – as a development of his form.” “He will only use spikes on a rough and uneven ring.” My lack of knowledge in this area left me puzzled. Haven’t shot and discus rings always been cement? No, apparently dirt was common. In Melbourne they will be cement. Former Stanford and present San Francisco Olympic Club coach, Dink Templeton, says that there will never be another great shot putter who does not use the O’Brien technique. At the other end of the prediction continuum, Percy Cerutty prophecies that when runners develop a relaxed style, “men (will) run three miles at 4:10-4:15 rate, around 4:20 for six miles.” He also predicts an 800 time of 1:40 and a mile between 3:40-3:45.
Apparently the two great “down under” coaches, Cerutty and Franz Stampfl, had philosophical disagreements and a contentious relationship. A letter appears in this issue defending Stampfl’s training methods. It is written by a young Ron Clarke.
Bank Notes deals primarily with the college choices of high school athletes. Willie White is going to California (extension) whatever that is. Dave Davis will be at USC (extension) as well. Jerry White will be at Mt. SAC. Ron Gregory, who apparently held the HS mile record for a day or two before Jim Bowers broke it, is reported going to Kansas. Not so, the brother of comedian/activist Dick Gregory studied at Notre Dame, a fact I know because I ran against him (more accurately, behind him) in the ’59 Missouri AAU Championship two mile. The highlight of the article is that the seventh ranked miler in the country would be attending Kansas. That would be 4:21.4 man Cliff Cushman of North Forks, ND. Banks says Kansas coach “Bill Easton is pointing him towards the steeplechase and he looks like a natural.” In an amazing double, Cushman is the 11th ranked high hurdler at 14.4, only 0.4 behind the leader. I’m betting that 4:21.4 and 14.4 are still the best mile – hurdles double in US high school history, not that there is a long list.
The more things change, the more they stay the same dept: Track and Field News is no longer 25 cents. Now it costs $3 for a year. There is still time to join the TFN Olympic Tour if you have $1444. And yes, Cliff Severn still sells…….well, you know.
Coming up: The Olympics

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