Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 2 August 1960


The newly formed Olympic team has three tune up meets on the west coast, July 30 in Eugene, August 5 in Long Beach and August 12 at Mt. SAC.


With the exception of Bill Nieder, Wille May, and Al Oerter, it appears that most of the athletes are just going through the motions. Ray Norton and Stone Johnson trade sprint victories. Norton edges Canadian Harry Jerome in a 10.4 100, significant because Jerome became the second man to run 10.0 just two weeks ago. Johnson also runs 10.4. Dave Sime is fourth in 10.5. Johnson's 20.9 takes the 200 over Norton, 21.0, and Jerome, 21.1.

Otis Davis delights the hometown crowd with his 45.9 - 46.2 400 win over Glenn Davis. Trials winner Jack Yerman is third at 46.5. G. Davis wins the 400H in a pedestrian 51.0, but it is not mentioned whether that came before or after the flat 400.

Jerry Siebert scores a convincing victory in the 800. His 1:48.9 leaves Canadian Sig Ohlemann, 1:49.5, in his wake. Once again Ernie Cunliffe and Jim Dupree finish with the same time, 1:49.6, and once again Cunliffe gets the nod. For the first time anyone can remember Ernie C runs negative splits, 56.0 - 53.6. Dick Bank writes, “Cunliffe now feels he can run from behind and finish strong. He plans to abandon his hyper-fast first lap pace.”

Dyrol Burleson adds to the Oregon crowd's joy by taking an easy win over Ed Moran, 3:45.7 to 3:48.3.

The steeplechasers compete on the flat this time. Phil Coleman holds off George Young by a tenth in 8:24.9. Deacon Jones runs another indifferent race, clocking 8:48.5 for third.

Willie May's 13.6 victory over Lee Calhoun, also 13.6, is the result of Calhoun's easing up over the last hurdle. Calhoun explains that he had no pep because he had gone fishing on the McKenzie River the day before and didn't get back until midnight.

Apparently no one has taken Olympic preparation more casually than Don Bragg. His 14-6 earns him a tie for second behind Henry Wadsworth's 15-0. Wait a minute, this is the guy who set the WR just four weeks ago. How can this be? Tarzan explains, “After the trials, I took it easy. I put on 20 pounds and I am still 10 overweight.” Twenty pounds? Twenty pounds? Am I reading this right? Perhaps I am being too hard on him. His Olympic teammates, Ron Morris and Dave Clark also do very little. Morris goes 14-6 and Clark can't clear the opening 14-0.

Al Oerter, perhaps still stinging from his Oly Trials defeat in the discus at the hands of Rink Babka, dusts the big guy today by almost five feet with a 191-4. He is peeved that he had to show his condition in this meet. “These meets interrupt my training. Now that I have shown them my condition is good, I'll go home and throw hard and lift weights for three weeks. I'll throw hard at Rome when it counts.”

The most intriguing event is the shot put. Our top three placers in the trials are here, Long, O'Brien and Davis. So is Bill Nieder who didn't make the team. Once again Davis brings the drama. Big Dave reports he hurt his wrist weight training and that the last three weeks have been spent working on an amusement pier in Santa Monica. The result is evident, a 56-7 fifth place. Under most conditions he would not have to worry about his spot on the team, but Nieder is recovered from his injury and is looking good. He wins at 63-11¼. The recently married O'Brien apparently has been attending to other issues so his second place 61-5 can be accounted for. Long's lackluster 60-10½ is laid off to excess weight lifting. Today's results put the onus of responsibility on Davis, something history would indicate he has not handled very well.

Bill Bowerman has devised a “novel portable broad jump runway” made of an asphalt- rubber mixture. There is thought that is may be what is needed to provide Ralph Boston a world record jump. Boston finds difficult to adjust to the new surface, fouling three times. However his amazing potential is demonstrated by a 26-0½ leap against a 3.9 mph wind, a foot better than the competition.


There are mixed results. On the down side, the team is not healthy. Injuries abound. The 200 and 400H are not run, the result of injuries and a poorly prepared track. Dick Howard is injured in the 400. Our top two 5000 guys, Bill Dellinger and Jim Beatty, are hurt and do not run. Don Bragg is out with a minor ailment. Dyrol Burleson doesn't run. No reason is given. And Dave Davis, well, we'll get to that later.

On the plus side, Dave Sime seems to finally be getting it together. He wins the 100 by five feet in 10.5, excellent considering the condition of the track and a 7.5 mph hindering wind. Stone Johnson is second in 10.6. Testimony to the difficulty of the conditions: Frank Budd, Paul Winder, Les Carney and Hubie Watson, all world class sprinters, can do no better than 10.7, 10.8, 10.9 and 10.9. Ray Norton never gets going and eases across in 11.0.

Glenn Davis reverses last week's loss to Otis Davis, 46.7 to 47.1, the times reflecting the conditions. Team member Earl Young can do no better than 48.0 in fifth.

No HSJer goes 50 feet. The pole vault is won at 14-6. John Thomas conquers the conditions with a 7-0¾ jump, but Charlie Dumas and Joe Faust can do no better than 6-8¾ and 6-7¾. Ralph Boston's 25-9 is good under the conditions, but no one else is within a foot. The hurdles also produce less than inspiring marks. Calhoun, May and Jones go 13.8, 13.9 and 14.0. A couple decathlon guys are close. CK Yang edges training partner Rafer Johnson 14.2-14.4.

Now for the good stuff. Nothing provides the crowd with more excitement than the performance of Long Beach's Bob Soth. Soth finished third in the trials 5000, but doesn't have the qualifying time. Tonight's race is at 3 miles. If he runs 13:45, he makes the team. Steeplechasers Coleman, Oakley and Jones, who have no race tonight, do the pace setting. Soth goes through miles of 4:33 and 9:09 and now the goal is within reach. With two laps remaining he needs to finish in 2:15. As 11,000 cheer him on, he comes home in 2:09 to record a PR of 13:38.8 and makes the team.

The javelin produces so-so results, but the rest of the throwing events are encouraging. Although Al Oerter is not in the competition, Rink Babka and Dick Cochran give indication that the US will be tough in the discus by throwing PRs of 193-6½ and 191-5½. Hal Connolly establishes his dominance over Al Hall in the hammer 221-4 to 210-9.

The third spot in the shot is up for grabs. Dave Davis' poor performance last week coupled with alternate Bill Nieder's 63-11½ win in Eugene has opened the door for Nieder to replace Big Dave. Tonight's competition only swings that door open wider. Each comes within half an inch of replicating last week's marks, Nieder 63-11 and Davis 56-6 ½. O'Brien and Long are stout with 63-2 and 62-4. If Davis doesn't turn things around next week, he will be watching the games on TV.

The middle distance runners are given different distances for this meet, the 660 and the 1320. Jerry Siebert, a 400 type 800 runner, lines up against Cal teammate Jack Yerman, an 800 type 400 runner in the 660. It is no contest. Siebert runs 1:17.3 to leave Yerman and Jim Dupree ten yards back in 1:18.6. Tom Murphy trails at 1:18.8.

The 1320 is an attempt at Jim Grelle's American record of 2:57.7 set two years ago. Ernie Cunliffe, a miler-800 runner, takes the field out in 60.3. Archie San Romani holds that pace through a 2:00.1 half. Grelle hangs back until the backstretch when he opens up for a resounding 2:56.2 win. Ed Moran, San Romani and Cunliffe all break the former record at 2:57.3, 2:57.4 and 2:57.5, but finish ten yards back.

And, yes, there are relays....sort of. The 400 team of Winder, Sime, Johnson and Norton runs 40.4 to beat, well, we don't know exactly. This is the team that doesn't finish because of Woodhouse's injury. Both teams finish in the 1600 relay, but after the first leg, it isn't all that competitive. Ted Woods bests Eddie Southern 47.2 to 47.4 on the opening leg, but after that is is all the appropriately named Team One with Otis Davis, Glenn Davis and Yerman running 47.4, 48.2 and 47.1 for 3:09.9. Team Two is handicapped by halfhearted 49.3 and 49.5 legs by Dupree and Murphy, leaving Earl Young without much incentive in his 48.4 to finish at 3:14.6.


If grades were given the previous two weeks, Eugene would be a C and Long Beach a B-. The team's GPA just got upgraded. Tonight's performance is an A+ only because grades don't go any higher. Any doubts about the American team's readiness for Rome have been removed. Four world records are broken and another is tied. Two US records are bettered and another pair tied. It doesn't get much better than this.

The oldest record in track and field, Jesse Owens' 1935 26-8 broad jump, is broken by Ralph Boston. His first jump gave a clue that this was possible. He broke the sand at 26-10, but sat back in the pit. The next three jumps were all over 26', so when he hit 26-11¼ on his fifth jump no one was surprised. He passed on his sixth turn.

The weights are superb. Hammer thrower Hal Connolly goes from world record holder to WORLD RECORD HOLDER, adding a remarkable five feet to his record with an unheard of 230-9 effort, the first throw over 70 meters. He said he thought he could do better. Al Hall throws 213-9½.

And then we have the odd story of Rink Babka's record tying throw in the discus, the description of which is best left to Bert Nelson. “Babka had quite a problem nailing down his record. First measurement showed the toss to be a half-inch short, at 196-6. Then officials discovered they had used the tape incorrectly and a half-inch was added. (editor's note: “incorrectly”?) Actually the measurement was 196-6¾, but distances must be measured to the lower half-inch. And then it was discovered the 196-6½ converts to just under 59.91 meters, the actual distance thrown by Piatkowski. To get the tie Rink's throw would have to be tested with a metric tape. Still more trouble, for the tape was in decimeters, and after the 59.9 mark there was a blank. Unfortunately, the officials then gave up, not realizing there was probably a centimeter scale on the other end of the tape, or that the landing spot could be marked throughout the night and measured with another tape the next day. What happens when the mark is submitted to the IAAF at 196-6¾ remains to be seen. But Rink has other plans, figuring to better 200 feet.” Olympic champion Al Oerter is not here to respond. He has not been able to get off from work.

Another world record comes in the shot put, where Dave Davis' recent poor performance and the exceptional putting of alternate Bill Nieder has put Davis' spot on the team in jeopardy. Davis has improved from his sub 57' efforts of the last couple weeks and, though in fourth, has thrown 59-8½, trailing tightly bunched Dallas Long, 63-8½, Nieder, 63-7½, and Parry O'Brien, 63-3¼. Is Davis's improvement enough to hold his spot on the team? Maybe and maybe not. We'll never know, because in the fourth round Nieder makes the Olympic Committee's decision easy. He grunts out the longest throw in history, three inches beyond his pending world record. It is measured at 65-10 and metrically at 20.06, the first 20 meter throw. Big Bill is going to Rome. Big Dave is staying home.

Dyrol Burleson knocks two tenths off Bill Dellinger's American record in the 1500 with a 55.7 final go around, stopping the watches at 3:41.3. Peter Close isn't very, but he runs well, finishing in 3:42.7 good enough for a tie for third on the American list with Jim Grelle. The second AR comes in the six mile where Bob Soth is pacing Mal Robertson in an attempt to get the 28:50 qualifying standard. When it is apparent that Robertson isn't up to the task, Soth takes off on his own and finishes in 28:56, breaking Bud Edlen's 29:01.8. It has been a good eight days for Soth. Last week he qualified for the team in the 5000. Now he becomes a national record holder.

The two American records that are tied are in the 110HH and the 100. Willie May nearly catches Olympic champ Lee Calhoun, but has to settle for a share of the AR held by Calhoun and Jack Davis, 13.4. Dave Sime is off poorly in the 100, but catches the field midway, then lifts and is gone. His 10.1 ties him with Leamon King, Willie Williams, Ira Murchison and Ray Norton. Stone Johnson and Bobby Morrow run 10.2. Norton's absence is not explained.

John Thomas continues his sensational high jumping with a 7-2 clearance, however his teammates don't look so good. Charlie Dumas and Joe Faust can only make 6-8 and 6-6.

Glenn Davis may be concentrating on the intermediate hurdles, but he leave no doubt about who the man is in the open 400, crushing a great field in 45.5. None of the next three has to hang his head in shame. Earl Young, Otis Davis and Ted Woods are clocked in 45.7, 45.9 and 46.0. Ted Woods is out early in the 200 and holds off Johnson and Les Carney, 20.7 to their 20.8s.

Jim Grelle drops down to the 800 to work on his speed. He runs 1:48.8, but all this gets him is a long distance view of the backsides of Jerry Siebert and Ernie Cunliffe who run 1:47.3 and 1:47.5. Jim Dupree's posterior is in better focus at 1:48.4.

The festivities end with a mile relay. Once again Team One beats Team Two, but this time the competition is fierce. One's Eddie Southern opens up a commanding lead over Two's Cliff Cushman, 47.2 to 48.1. After running the open 400 and 200, Ted Woods acquits himself well on the second leg, splitting 46.2 to gain back two tenths on One's Earl Young. Otis Davis runs the third leg in 45.9 for the Ones, but Jerry Siebert does the same for the Twos. Now it is Glenn Davis licking his chops as he is off five yards behind Jack Yerman on the anchor. Yerman had a tough go of it in the open 400, running only 47.3, 1.8 behind Davis' winning 45.5. This may not be pretty. The Olympic champion closes the gap on the backstretch, then pulls even on the straight. But Yerman is not to be beaten so easily. The pair are shoulder to shoulder all the way down the stretch before Davis finally breaks. Yerman's 46.1 is enough to hold off Davis' 45.9. The times are the fastest ever, 3:05.6 and 3:06.1. The Ones – Southern, Young, O. Davis and Yerman have broken the final WR of the evening.

The rest of the world hasn't been asleep. The Germans especially are rounding into shape. Armin Hary will be a force in the 100 and 200. His German teammate, Carl Kaufmann tops the world list in the 400 at 45.4. Hans Grodotzki is #1 and #2 on the 5000 and 10,000 world lists. The Siegfrieds, Valentin and Hermann, are 3 and 4 in the 1500 and Paul Schmidt is second, by a mere tenth to Kerr in the 800

A notable loss will be South Africa's Gert Potgieter, the WR holder in the 400H at 49.0. He was a passenger in a car that crashed into a tree and suffered a broken jaw and other injuries. He will not compete in Rome.

On a more personal and certainly more serious level, Bob Gutowski, Olympic silver medalist and NCAA champion in the pole vault, has been killed in an auto accident at Camp Pendleton where he was a Marine lieutenant.

A page is devoted to the “Olympic Predictions” of six experts, the Nelson brothers and four others. Several events are unanimous. Everyone predicts victory for Norton in the 200, Elliot in the 1500, Krzyszkowiak in the steeplechase, Calhoun in the 110H, Davis in the 400H, Thomas in the HJ, Poland's Jozef Schmidt in the HSJ, Connolly in the HT, Johnson in the decathlon and the USA in both relays. Murray Halberg and Godon Pirie split the votes in the 5000, Halberg gets five of the six votes in the 10,000. Norton has four votes in the 100 with Hary and Sime getting one each. Bragg has five in the PV with the other going to Morris. Even with his WR, Boston gets only four votes, the others going to Russian Igor Ter-Ovanesyan. Nieder has four votes in the shot with O'Brien and Long getting the others. Babka's recent record earns him only one vote. Oerter gets the other five. The javelin is the most diversified with Cantello, Alley and Italy's Carlo Lievore getting two each. George Kerr gets four in the 800 with Elliott and Siebert getting the others. The 400 seems to be the most unsettled. Three votes go to India's Singh and one each to Kauffmann of Germany, Mal Spence of South Africa and Kerr.

The next issue will have the Olympic results. As with the 1956 games, we shall go through that story day by day.

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