Monday, October 17, 2011

Vol. 1 No. 61 July , 1959

July, 1959
This issue is primarily devoted to the two big meets of the US season, the NCAA on June 12-13 in Lincoln, Nebraska and the AAU the following week in Boulder, Colorado.
The NCAA meet is no contest. The well balanced Kansas Jayhawks are convincing winners, leaving second place San Jose State behind 73-48. The race of the day is the 220 low hurdles matching Eastern Michigan’s Hayes Jones, the winner of the highs in a meet record 13.6, with the Kansas duo of Charlie Tidwell, who has taken the 100 in a wind aided 9.3, and Ernie Shelby, the broad jump champ at 25-5, in what Cordner Nelson calls “one of the greatest footraces of all time”. The Kansas lads draw lanes 2 and 3. Jones, who has run the lows around a curve only once before, is in 5. Jones opens a slight early lead, but around the curve Tidwell catches him and they enter the straight together. Jones opens a yard, but Tidwell comes back. They go over the 10th hurdle together. Jones says, “I tightened over the last hurdle and he caught me. I thought he had me”. He didn’t. Jones wins in 22.5, the fastest ever run, but not a record because of a 5.3 mph aiding wind. Tidwell is given 22.6. Shelby, not in the mix for first, adds important points for the Jayhawks with a third place 23.3. Between the two of them Tidwell and Shelby score 34 points.
San Jose State sees first place hopes dashed when Ray Norton false starts out of the 100. Though he rebounds to lead a 1-2 sweep with Bobby Poynter in the 220 at 20.9, the damage has been done. Poynter scores 16 with his 9.5w, 21.0 second places. The 440 has “probably the strongest field in the meet – and the meet’s history”. Eddie Southern (Texas), Jack Yerman (Cal), Deloss Dodds (Kansas State) and Otis Davis (Oregon) win the heats. Mal Spence (Arizona State) and Davis take the semis. Colorado’s Chuck Carlson is the recipient of a gift pass to the finals when Yerman is disqualified for running outside his lane. Walt Johnson of North Carolina College, Pitt’s Mel Barnwell and Canadian Olympic veteran Terry Tobacco of Washington comprise the rest of the field. The final is all Otis Davis, who destroys the field, to a point. That point would be at about 300 yards where the foolishness of an all out sprint becomes apparent to the Oregon rookie. The bear hops on his back for a torturous 140 yard ride as they watch the field go by. Bill Bowerman later comments, “Davis broke the NCAA record for the first 300 yards of a 440”. The race now belongs to the more judicious: Southern, Tobacco and Carlson. Southern wins in 46.4. Carlson catches Tobacco for second as they run 46.5 and 46.6. Spence takes fourth at 46.8. Johnson, 47.2, and Dodds, 47.3, nip Davis at the tape. Barnwell apparently loses interest and walks across in 61.2. No explanation is given.
Meet records are set by Dick Howard of New Mexico whose 50.6 gives him a huge margin over Cliff Cushman’s 51.3. Boston University’s John Lawler, the ex-Dublin police officer, wins the hammer by 22 feet with his record 207-5. Little known Paul Whiteley of Kansas State Teachers (now Emporia State) “pattered impressively” through a 13.59.1 three mile for an 8 second win and the fourth meet record.
Heats are run in the mile for the first time. Oklahoma’s Gail Hodgson, Oregon’s Jim Grelle and St. John’s Pete Close are winners. In the final, Ron Gregory of Notre Dame takes the field through 59.5 and 2:02.2 splits. The pace falters to 3:07 at the start of the last lap where Hodgson takes over followed closely by Penn State’s Ed Moran, Close, Grelle, Vanderbilt’s “little” Fred Abington, Penn State’s Dick Englebrink, Kansas State’s Tom Rodda and Washington’s Jack Larson. Around the penultimate curve this group is bunched within three yards. Grelle, the second place finisher to Ron Delany the previous two years, is boxed in and unable to move early on the backstretch. Finally, just before the final curve, he gets out and takes the lead. He quickly ends the race on the curve, entering the straight with a full head of steam and a seven yard lead. Close gets by Hodgson and, just before the tape, so does Englebrink. Grelle’s 56.6 finish gives him a 4:03.9, just four tenths off Delany’s meet record. Close is 4:05.1. Englebrink and Hodgson are 4:06.0 and 4:06.1.
The 880 heats are won by Joe Mullins of Nebraska, George Kerr of Illinois, Tony Seth of Michigan and Stanford’s Ernie Cunliffe. The semis are brutal. In the first, Mullins leads a pack separated by a tenth of a second. Mullins runs 1:53.3. Chick King of Penn State is 1:53.4 but doesn’t qualify in fifth. Kerr wins the second semi easily in 1:51.4, followed by Cunliffe half a second later. Cal’s Jerry Seibert runs 1:52.2, but is eliminated by inches. In the final, Kerr leads around the curve, but Cunliffe, who likes to lead, takes over on the backstretch and opens up four yards which become six at the gun, reached in 51.7, followed by Kerr, Lew Merriman of Wichita, Mullins, Mel Spence of A-State and Seth. On the backstretch Kerr strikes and it is suddenly over. He has ten yards around the curve and is increases the margin on the homestretch to finish in 1:47.8. Seth catches Cunliffe in the straight as they take second and third in 1:49.5 and 1:50.0. The surprising Merriman hangs on for fourth in 1:50.4.
Wait a minute, there are four meet records and Bill Alley doesn’t have one of them? The American record holder in the javelin has set a meet record in every meet this year. This streak comes to a halt as an elbow injury, which has not allowed him to throw in practice for a month, combines with a hellacious head wind to limit him to 240-5, good enough for a narrow victory over Buster Quist of New Mexico. Alley really takes one for the team by competing this day. He is in great pain and can’t straighten his arm at the end of the throw. Next week’s AAU is out of the question. He will have surgery in two days.
Carl Shine of Penn State shines in the shot with a 57-11 victory. Oklahoma’s duo of Dan Erwin and Mike Lindsay place second and fourth at 56-11 and 56-3 for 14 of the 31 points that comprise the Sooners’ fourth place finish. Lindsay adds another 6 with a third place finish in the discus. Oklahoma State’s Jim Graham tops the pole vault field with a 15-2 leap. Oklahoma’s J.D. Martin and Purdue’s Jim Johnson tie for second at 14-10. As mentioned, Ernie Shelby takes the broad jump. Behind him are two Olympic champions in the making. Tennessee A&I’s Ralph Boston is third at 24-8½ and Bill Toomey of Colorado is ninth at 24-0¾. They will see better days.
A week later and here we are in Boulder, elevation 5430 feet. The AAU national championship has always been important in determining national teams, but up until now there has never been an international dual meet with the emotional clout of this one. The top two finishers will represent the US in the dual meet with the Soviet Union to be held next month in Philadelphia. 1958 saw the first US-USSR meet in Moscow. This will be the first on US soil. The cold war is in full flower. Missiles are pointed each direction and nuclear destruction is knocking at the door. School children are practicing the drop and cover maneuver: get under your desk, bury your face in the crook of your arm and cover the back of your neck with your other hand. Yes, the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming and who will be on the team to compete against them? Let’s find out.
After prelims on Friday, the finals on Saturday are contested in the rain. The weather and the altitude keep marks depressed, but they do not lessen the competition. Ray Norton is voted the outstanding performer on the basis of his sprint victories, 10.5 and 20.8. Eddie Southern is the only defending champion to retain his crown, running 46.1 to hold off Dave Mills’ 46.4. Jack Yerman’s 46.6 puts him on the relay team. Tom Murphy peaks at the right time, easily taking the 800 in 1:47.9 over Jerome Walters’ 1:48.5. Ernie Cunliffe shows remarkable consistency, running 1:50.0 and placing third, his exact time and place in last week’s NCAA. In the 1500 Dyrol Burleson establishes himself as the man, running a meet record 3:47.5 to defeat NCAA champ and fellow Oregonian, Jim Grelle who clocks 3:48.4.
The distance marks suffer from the altitude, but the armed services come through in fine style. Bill Dellinger of the Air Force and the Navy’s Lew Stieglitz go 1-2 in the 5000 in 14:47.6 and 14:48.5 to hold off Max Truex. But little Max is not to be denied in the 10,000, touring 25 laps in 31:22.4 to easily hold off Aussie Al Lawrence. Bob Soth picks up the second qualifying spot in 32:12.6, setting up what will be the most dramatic moment of the year in next month’s meet.
In the highs, Olympic champ Lee Calhoun gets a great start and holds off Hayes Jones, 14.0 for both. Elias Gilbert just misses at 14.1 and vents his frustration, “I’m tired of all this running”. Charlie Tidwell, defeated by Jones last week in the lows, rallies for an American (and unofficial world) record of 22.6 to beat Jones by a tenth.
The 400 IH provides drama. Dick Howard draws the pole with Olympic champion Glenn Davis and Josh Culbreath in 2 and 3. The experienced Davis misses his step badly and is well back after four hurdles. He has not tasted defeat in this event since 1956. Now it is staring him in the face. He rights himself and begins to push, gaining on everyone, but Howard has a three yard lead coming into the straight. Howard goes too high over the last hurdle and Davis is within a yard with 20 to go, but can get no closer. Howard takes his first national championship in 50.7 with Davis 50.9. Culbreath is well back in third at 51.7, just ahead of Cliff Cushman’s 51.9. Detroit area high school boy Rex Cawley finishes sixth and last at 53.7, but there is more to this story. This is his third final and fourth race of the day. The previous day he had run 51.3. Today he has already placed fifth in the highs (14.5) and third in the lows (23.0). The young man may just have a future in the sport.
The field events provide two more meet records. Parry O’Brien won his 7th national title with a throw of 62-2¼. Indeed five of his throws are better than the field can produce. Dick Davis makes the US team at 60-4¾. Al Oerter who has returned to New York after graduating from Kansas arrives with the story of 21 practice throws over 200 feet. He throws 184 in the trials and then improves to 186-5 to easily beat O’Brien whose 180-9½ gives him his second spot on the team against Russia by an inch and a half over Dick Cochran. But wait, Rink Babka throws 187. The mark is not counted because of a foot foul. Babka is certain he did not foul as the steel circle is fully a half inch above the concrete and he would have felt it. Other throwers support his claim. Babka leaves the stadium feeling robbed, a belief that is confirmed when he returns to the dormitory and finds his money gone.
Cliff Severn once again defines ubiquity. Of course his ad adorns the back page. His is joined by three other ads. Don Potts is selling his “All Time World List”, an “invaluable reference work”, for just a buck fifty. That’s box 7213, San Diego. The Pan American Games Tour will go from Aug. 27 to Sept. 2. For details write to TFN, box 296, Los Altos, Calif. No cost is mentioned, so that must be a detail. And finally we have Wheat Germ Oil (for athletes and non-athletes) offered through the previous address. You can write for a pamphlet or just pony up $9 for a quart or $16.50 for 1000 capsules. Next issue, the Russians are coming and we are ready for them.
Lincoln, Nebraska and the AAU the following week in Boulder, Colorado.

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