Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vol. 1 No. 61 Ernie Cunliffe Recalls Drake 1959

George, at one time you asked about a personal look at the Distance Medley at Drake in 1959. Stanford had a fair group of
middle distance runners, mainly 880 guys and no real milers. I had not run a mile my sophomore year and had an early
time trial in my junior year (1959) of about a 4:12. But I had run a 2:56 1320 in practice on several occasions.

At Drake, we considered Oklahoma the team to beat, especially since Gail Hodgson would anchor and he was way better than
anything we had, having run somewhere around 4:05. So Coach Payton Jordan asked me to anchor and with lead off legs of
around 1:54 for the 880, 47+ for the 440 and a 3:05 for the 1320, I was given the baton with a lead. Figuring I could not
run and sprint with Hodgson, who had run a 1:49+ sprint medley leg earlier in another meet, I took off fairly fast (No surprise
there for anyone knowing my running style) I was about 58: 1:56 and then slowed down to a 60/61 or so 3rd lap and apparently
ran Hodgson out as I did my next to last 220 fairly well and then staggered home with the 4:10 cited in Roy's summary. I
actually did not know until reading Roy's summary that Michigan State was 2nd and Oklahoma 3rd as I always thought that
Oklahoma took 2nd. I did not run another mile until the next year.

A final couple of bits about Drake Relays 1959 which was celebrating their Golden Anniversary. I met Wes Santee which was quite
an honor. Meant alot more the next year when I just bettered his best mile mark by a tenth in the Burleson mile when Stanford met
Oregon at Hayward Field, but that is another story to cover when Roy comes up with the late Spring 1960 T & F News summaries.

Finally Stanford had been entered in the 2 mile relay and word got around that we were going to scratch after winning the
distance medley. We heard that the Kansas team gave a big cheer about that as they would have competed against our team
with myself and the 880 and 1320 guys doubling back. Don't recall their time or if they even won but fresh I think we would have
beaten them as we had 4 guys who could run 1:51.5 or better. Might have been interesting in that this could have been my one
and only race against Cliff Cushman had we both anchored the 2 mile relay. Cliff and I interacted alot in the next few years but
again we will have to wait for Roy's 60, 61 and later T & F News issues. Also a story about the 3 stripe man, Cliff Severn at an
indoor meet in LA .

Thankfully I never ran against Dixon Farmer but am glad to see his name now as I am sure he has some great stories about Oxy &
the following years of his brilliant career. Dixon was actually at the Stanford vs Oxy meet in 1960 but I believe Freshmen were not
eligible to compete on varsity teams by NCAA rules. He and I kept crossing paths over the years and I last saw him at the WAC 1984
Championship in San Diego when the Air Force Academy competed there against all the WAC schools, including Dixon's SD State
Team. Cliff Cushman would have had to been on his toes to compete with Dixon, not only in the hurdles, but Dixon not only Coached
the team, he did the announcing of the meet and probably also like Cliff was apparently seen sweeping out the stadium at the end of the
meet (See Roy's comments way above if this confuses you) but was not seen washing any cars.


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