Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 23 November 1960


This issue reports on the championship cross country meets, more tidbits from the track season and the final US lists.

The US cross country season is dominated by Australia's Al Lawrence
Al Lawrence today
Lawrence setting world indoor 3 miles record

and the University of Houston, the best team money can import. On Nov. 21 in East Lansing, Lawrence takes 40 seconds off the course record, winning in 19:28. Teammate John Macy is second, 16 seconds back. Barrie Almond and Pat Clohessey finish 8th and 11th. At this point it doesn't matter that George Rankin is 50th. He could have finished 84th in the field of 99 and the Cougars would still have won. All of these guys are foreigners. Their average age is 27. Coach John Morriss recruits well.(See Tribute to Johnny Morriss, below) Houston 54, Michigan State 80, Western Michigan 84. Once again all the teams are from the East or Midwest. The schools furthest west are Air Force and Colorado State.

Three days later it is the AAU meet in Lexington, Kentucky. It is a smaller field, but the results are the same. Lawrence runs away from 39 year old Englishman Fred Norris to win by 6 seconds in 31:21. Norris' affiliation is listed as Lake Charles. He is a freshman at McNeese State, but can't represent the school because of Louisiana segregation policies. ( Another interesting note about Fred Norris is that he was 39 years old when he came to McNeese St., already a hardened journeyman runner working in the coal mines of England. He was older than the McNeese coach. One can only imagine what Lake Charles, LA seemed to be to Fred after all those years underground. Did he get used to gumbo and crawfish over fish and chips? We'll never know. Nevertheless he ran some sub 9 minute two miles indoors for them and was in the lead pack late in the Boston marathon before getting thrown off stride by an unleashed dog. He was so thin, some called him the running cadaver. Harold Norpoth would have looked like Arnold Scwharzenegger beside Norris. If you google "Fred Norris,McNeese St." a site for 'Brawn Drain', will appear and an interesting chapter can be seen about old athletes and imposter athletes gaming the NCAA recruiting system. the editor) This time Houston flies the colors of the Houston Track and Field Club. They thump the New York AC for the title 33-42. The University of Chicago TC is a respectable third at 50 points. Morehead College is fourth at 94, but then it gets interesting. Berea College takes fifth with what looks like a PE class. In the field of 61 over 10 K, the local lads place 43-47-52-56-58-59 with times between 38:15 and 43:24. As the saying goes, 80% of success is showing up.

Ted Haydon, U. of Chicago Track Club Coach

Ted Haydon captained the University of Chicago track & field team in 1933 and returned to Chicago to serve as head track & field coach from 1950-85. A member of the U.S. Track & Field Hall of Fame, Haydon formed the University of Chicago Track Club, which became a national force. As a student-athlete at Chicago, he was a national qualifier in the javelin.

The most significant of the collegiate meets is the Big Eight meet in Stillwater, Oklahoma where the hometown Cowboys win their first conference championship and end Kansas' streak of 13 consecutive titles. The finish is one for the ages. Billy Mills of Kansas takes the individual title, but not by much. His 15:03.6 gets him home barely ahead of three Okie Staters, John Haraughty, 15:04, Jack MePhail, 15:05, Harold Smith, 15:06, and teammate Bill Dotson, 15:07. That's five guys within 3.4 seconds over three miles.

Remember the retirements of Ron Morris and Parry O'Brien? Forget it, they will be competing indoors and perhaps outdoors as well. Tell you who will not be back: Lee Calhoun and Bobby Morrow because they have been declared professionals. Morrow has made public his business affiliation with a company that produces among other things the Bobby Morrow Kick Gauge, a device that positions one's starting blocks for maximum leverage. Calhoun's professional status stems from his acceptance of the job of sports director for the the city of Gary, Indiana's parks and playgrounds. As this is enough to keep him from competition, he is free to accept a gift of $3000 as a down payment on a home.

High jumper Joe Faust (see article below) has dropped out of Occidental College “for personal reasons” and has jumped for the last time. How many times have we seen the term “personal reasons” used to gloss over something negative? Not this time. Joe Faust is leaving the school and the sport to enter the priesthood.

Remember the tragic crash that took the lives of so many of those on board the plane that carried the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo football team Oct. 29, 1960? One of those who lost his life is 46.0 400 meter runner Vic Hall.

Last month we reported that Olympic 100 meter champion Armin Hary, not having his price met for three films featuring his own wonderfulness, had devoted his time to writing his memoirs. Well, it appears that the siren call of the silver screen has once again captured his attention. He is now interested in filming The Armin Hary Story with himself playing the title role. Not to be outdone, his Olympic teammate, Carl Kaufmann, is moving forward with his entertainment career as well. He has just recorded his first song, “Und Amor lauft mit” which translates as “Cupid Runs too”. If you know the tune, feel free to hum along as you read further.

Archie San Romani Jr. has transferred from Wichita State to Oregon.
San Romani Jr. 2 nd to Jim Grelle at Mt. San Sac? Relays

Glenn Cunningham, Archie San Romani Sr. and Gene Venzke the 3 US 1500 entrants at 1936 Olympics on the boat to Europe.

Gordon Pirie has retired and moved to New Zealand. Roger Moens, Belgium's 800 WR holder is the subject of conflicting reports. Some say he will retire, but others report an interest in continuing his career in the 1500 where he has a PR of 3:41.4.

The IAAF ruled that 200 meter races around a turn which have aiding wind in the stretch will not be considered for record purposes. As this was not the case when England’s Peter Radford's 20.5 was accepted as the WR, his mark will be referred to as a “record accepted by mistake”. Awkward at best.

From our thinking outside the box department: Harold Abrahams of Great Britain has a suggestion that would revolutionize broad jumping. He proposes a “step off board” one meter in length. The jumper can take off anywhere within this zone and the measurement will be taken from the footprint (made more visible through the use of an adequate material). Jumpers would be “psychologically unbothered” while going down the runway and there would be practically no fouls. The more your hard working reporter thinks about that, the better the idea seems.

With the track world abuzz from the Olympics, this issue is full of ads. For the first time an entire page is devoted to an ad, specifically Champions on Film who offer “1960 Olympic Movies from Rome” ($25), 16mm “loop” movies and sets of “loops” in 8mm ($19.95). Honest to God,.....I am not making this up,......the address is 303½ S. Main Street, USA. No phone number. Think someone got yelled at for that?

The choice of shoes now includes Spot-Bilt (with all-kangaroo uppers), Puma (the imported shoe), Dreske (a fine, new track shoe / dealers wanted) and, of course, Adidas (the proof is in the wearing).

A Tribute to Johnny Morriss from the Lousiana Sports Hall of Fame
Johnny Morriss
Sport: Track and Field
They don't make hurdles – or hurdlers – like they did before World War II.

Johnny with US team in Torino,Italy 1933

Johnny later in life.
Six of the 15 track and field athletes in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame were world class hurdlers, including two of the five members of Bernie Moore's LSU team that won the 1933 National Collegiate Athletic Association championship. But modern day hurdlers such as Rodney Milburn and Willie Davenport should be thankful that they didn't compete in the good old days.

Hitting a hurdle now might cost an athlete a tenth of a second. Fifty or sixty years ago, it could mean a broken leg.

“It was straight upback and did not have anything on it that would give,” Johnny Morriss said of the hurdles he conquered in tying the world record with a time of 14.3 seconds in 1933.

In one exhibition race in Cleveland, Morriss didn't even run in a straight. “We ran on the baseball field,” he recalled. “The high hurdles started at home plate and five hurdles were down the right field line. Then it curved toward centerfield for the last five hurdles. Of course, it was all on grass. I ran 14.6, and it was published as a world record.”

His first taste of international competition was a victory over Lord Burghley of England (the 1928 Olympic 400 meter hurdles champion, and one of the Olympians portrayed in the movie “Chariots of Fire”) in the 1930 Toronto World's Fair. Lord Burghley was elected to Parliament in 1931, but was granted a leave of absence for the 1932 Olympics.

Morriss was a three-year letterman in football, basketball and track at Lafayette High, graduating in 1926. He earned 12 letters at Southwestern Louisiana Institute – four apiece in football and track, two apiece in football and golf.

Abbeville High hired him in 1930 – officially as a teacher and assistant principal, to protect his amateur status. But unofficially, he did plenty of coaching, Marty Broussard, then a student at Abbeville High, recalled Morriss setting up hurdles in the school's hallway on rainy days to practice when he was preparing for a major meet.

The year before he broke the world record, Morriss was the first alternate in the 110 meter high hurdles on the 1932 U.S. Olympic team.

George Saling of Iowa, the NCAA champion, won the gold medal and Percy Beard, who had nipped Morriss by a foot for the third spot on the U.S. team, won the silver medal.

One year later, Morriss won the national AAU championship at Chicago's Soldier Field with a world record clocking of 14.3 seconds in a qualifying heat. Perseverance paid off for Morriss, who had finished fourth or fifth in the previous three national AAU championships. Third place in that race went to Al Moreau of LSU, another member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

The other “old-timer” in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame is Glen “Slats” Hardin, whose specialties were the longer hurdles races.

After the 1933 national AAU meet in Chicago, Morriss toured Europe for two months and won 17 consecutive races in international competition. In the World Student Games in Turin, Italy, Morriss was selected to carry the U.S. flag in the opening parade of nations. He won the high hurdles in that meet. Throughout his career, he wore a red and white SLI shirt, even in European meets.

Morriss, who coached athletes in four sports at Abbeville High, later coached North Carolina to Southern Conference championships four years in a row, directed SLI to three consecutive Gulf States Conference championships and led the University of Arkansas to the Southwest Conference cross country title. Between those stints, he spent three years in the U.S. Navy during World War II and worked with a Chicago athletic supply company for two years.

In 1955, Morriss took over the track and cross country program at the University of Houston. His Cougars won three consecutive national AAU cross country championships.

Morriss coached 30 All-Americans in track and field, and 36 in cross country. His athletes tied or broke eight world records, and nine of them competed in the Olympic Games – three for the United States and six for Canada.

He originated the “Meet of Champions” in Houston and brought indoor track to Houston. Morriss was instrumental in bringing the national championship meet to Houston's Jeppesen Stadium in 1986.

“He's the only man I know,” said one friend, “who can start talking about football, basketball or anything else, and wind up talking about track.”

Morriss, author of The Self-Coached Runner, is the only track coach from Louisiana or Texas to be elected president of both the NCAA Cross Country Coaches' Association and the Outdoor Track Coaches' Association. He is a member of numerous Halls of Fame.

In recent years, Morriss has been battling Alzheimer's disease. A man who had seven holes-in-one as a golfer, his golf game has been limited to practicing putts in the backyard of Houston's Sheltering Arms Day Center. The game that kept him alert was dominoes.

Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative disease that claims more than 100,000 lives a year – making it the fourth leading cause of death nationally behind heart disease, cancer and stroke.

His wife, Nona, said the most difficult thing was watching a dynamic person who was always self-reliant become dependent on others for everything. “We still have a lot of good conversations,” she said in the winter of 1991. “We take walks and we have friends who involved us in what they do. But I cry easily now. That's something I never used to do.

The following is an article about Joe Faust from the Culver City HS Alumni News by Rick Weingarten including an exerpt from "Rome 1960".
An Olympian from Culver High : : Joe Faust

From the book: "ROME 1960..The Olympics That Changed The World” by David Maraniss

“The high-jump competition was an all-day affair. It started at 9 that morning with 32 jumpers, and by lunch the field had narrowed to 17 who had cleared 6’-6 ¾” . American Joe Faust, with a sore lower back, was the first one out in the afternoon. “

“It could be said that Joe Faust failed at the Rome Olympics, coming up short after working toward a single moment for 7 years, but his disappointment was not written into the larger drama of U.S. men’s track-and-field team on what came to be known as Black Thursday. Few had heard of Faust before or after 9/1/60, and he was virtually invisible at the competition, withdrawing after the preliminary round in the high jump. He barely dragged his pained body over the bar at 6-4 ¾, then bowed out, finishing in 17th place, which was far worse than he might have done but better than 14 other jumpers from Tunisia to Iceland. That is how most Olympic athletes finish, unknown and unseen, away from the glare of media hype and patriotic hope. Like any of them, Faust would have been delighted to win a gold medal at the Stadio Olimpico, but he understood that in the larger scheme of things it would not have mattered, and the scheme of things is what he was all about.

There had been a touch of fame in the family before his athletic career. His father, Louis (Bob) Faust, was an actor who played a villain in several John Wayne movies, including the 1947 “Angel and the Badman.” Bob assumed the role of bad man in the family, too, leaving his pregnant wife and 7 children. Joe was 5 when his parents separated, and spent much of his childhood with a foster family in Culver City. He was a normal kid except in two respects: he had wondrous spring in his legs and religious curiosity in his heart. By age 10 he was a precocious Catholic, searching for the spiritual essence of life.

His junior high track coach notice Joe’s exuberant bounce and quickly steered him toward the high jump. It was 1953, and together they developed an ambitious long-term plan to get to the 1960 Olympics. One out of a million chance, perhaps. ‘But I believed him,’ Faust said of his coach. ‘And we started working.’ His first jump was 3-foot-7, but by the end of that year he was at five-eight and moving higher by the week. He did the straddle jump, like most jumpers of that era, approaching the bar from a left angle and kicking up and over with his lead arm & leg. ‘I loved seeing the bar as I went over it,’ he said, something no high jumper would do in later decades after Dick Fosbury introduced the revolutionary Fosbury Flop, going over shoulders first, torso and head skyward. (as an interesting aside, I watched the 1976 Montreal Olympics with Dick Fosbury when I lived in Eugene and was blessed to hear his commentary while Dwight Stones was going for the gold. We sat in a friend’s backyard, drinking beer and watching Dwight with rapture on our faces. I remember it well. In fact 30 years later, I tracked Dick down in Ketcham, Idaho where he owned a surveying company and was able to convince him to do a feature for Fox Sports Net that I produced, called, “Where are They Now.” Great memories indeed.)

At fifteen Faust cleared the bar at 6-8, setting a new standard for his age group, and as he approached age 17 he was recruited to jump at UCLA. Faust lasted a month there, dropped out, and transferred to nearby Occidental College. He had been valedictorian of his high school class, but school now was all confusion to him. The seven-year plan to reach the Olympics still drove him, and he worked out twice a day, all the while feeling pangs of guilt about ‘the achievement complex.’ Jumping was his ambition and salvation; he infused it with religious symbolism.

Each jump had its own ritual; what he called the cycle of repair. He looked at the crossbar and saw the crucifix. As he approached, he imagined jumping into the arms of a loving God. He rose with penance, sorry for his sins, and descended with gratitude, thankful for love and forgiveness. Over and over again, penance and gratitude, sin and redemption, repairing himself inside and out, jumping a hundred times a day. It was all deeply personal and private. He never talked about it to others, never boasted that God was on his side. His heavenly thanks were not for how high he jumped, but simply for the act of jumping at all.

By July 1, 1960, Faust was exceptional enough to compete at the Olympic Trials at Stanford. Everything felt right that day. He was struck by the beautiful care with which Payton Jordan, the Stanford track coach, had prepared the stadium. The grass was a velvet cut of green, the track smooth and flawless, the takeoff area with just the right bounce, the landing pit soft and inviting. Hours before the competition, Faust went off by himself to meditate, visualizing his jumps. There were 13 competitors, led by John Thomas, the amazing leaper from Boston U., and Charley Dumas, the defending Olympic champ. All the attention was on Thomas, as he set a new world record, but there was a lively contest for the other tow Olympic slots. When the height reached 6-9, 7 jumpers were still around. Faust nicked the crossbar on his first 2 jumps and was on the verge of elimination. ‘I started visualizing the prayer part,’ he said later of his preparations for the 3rd try. ‘I dedicated the next jump to all the people who might be on crutches around the world. But it was not a trade-off with God. It was a feeling of, Why leave anyone behind?

He cleared the bar with ease. And then 6-10, and 6-11, and finally he soared over 7 feet for the first time in his life and clinched a spot on the team.

That moment, as it turned out, was the Olympic peak for jumping Joe Faust. A few day later he strained a disc in his lower back. Determined to fulfill the 7-year plan, he gutted it out at practice meets in Oregon and Switzerland, wincing in pain but showing enough to keep his place on the team. He was still only 17 when he reached Rome, the youngest man on the track and field squad, and he soaked it all in, joining the throngs who saw Pope John XXIII at the Vatican, mixing with foreign athletes, even coming to the aid of Leif Kvist, a young man from Sweden who had lost all his money and had been standing outside the gates of the village, broke and starving, until Joe brought him food from the bounteous Olympic cafeteria.

Then came the day of competition, the anticlimax, a jump of 6-4 ¾ and no more. He returned to California and wanted to become a Trappist monk. He fasted outside the gates of the Abbey of New Clairvaux up near Vina for 3 days and asked to be called Zachary, but could not clear his mind of images of a woman he had fallen in love with decided the monastic calling was not for him, not exactly. Over the years, he married, had children, got divorced, and struggled with questions he could not answer. He wondered what purpose God could invest in a molecule 2,000 feet underground. What part did that molecule play in the scheme of life? It was a hole in his theological construct that remained unfilled for years, until it cam to him that a single molecule had its own graceful movement in the universe. ‘That lonely molecule is not so lonely,’ he decided.

Nearly a half century after his moment in Rome, Faust, in his mid 60’s, lived a monastic life alone in a cramped room in a cottage nestled on the side of a scrubby tan hill just off the 710 Freeway not far from Cal State, L.A.. Inside his room, he had a table, a filing cabinet (folders on new high-jump landing pit designs, trash technology, mind and spirit notes), a shelf of books (The Joy of Mathematics, The Sistine Chapel, The Child’s Creation of a Pictorial World), another shelf of food (cereal, bananas, 7-grain bread, grapes, oranges), a small refrigerator, a sofa bed, and a computer. There were makeshift shelves and a grill out near the side door. It seemed all he needed. He was like a single molecule of Olympic history buried deep underground, alone, but still moving, and in his movement connected to everything else. Once he knew Rafer Johnson, Wilma Rudolph, Cassius Clay.

The backyard had the marking of a scavenger, a cluttered junkyard of collected planks of oak, sheets of plywood, scraps of iron, chunks of cement, bricks, stones, all arranged in a haphazard yet loving array. Down at the bottom third of the yard there was a clearing with an old mattress on the ground, and a further look showed two poles rising at either end, a bamboo crossbar nearby, and a worn path in the dirt coming from the left toward the tattered mattress. With no one watching, Joe Faust was high-jumping still, with a sore knee but bounce in his step, practicing his cycle of repair, rising with penance, clearing the crucifix, absolving his sins, descending with gratitude.


Just a footnote in the Olympic lore, but as a Culver City man, I thought worth recalling and giving some reverence to a man who might have won a medal had it not been for his damaged disc. I believe he may be the only Culver City person to ever compete in an Olympics. Not positive of that however.

This might be the most I have typed since my last term paper in 10th grade for Patty Logsdon. Whew..See you.

Rick Weingarten


1 comment:

Janel Macy Jasper said...

Hi! I'm wondering if you know how to reach Al Lawrence? He ran with my father, and I'd like to get in touch with him if at all possible. Thank you!

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