Sunday, March 11, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 26 January , 1961


You want indoor meets? We got 'em, but first, let us tell you about two previous outdoor meets.
The first is the Sugar Bowl meet, held appropriately enough in New Orleans on the first day of the year in 50 degree weather. Aubrey Dooley, the former Oklahoma State star, is the unanimous selection as the meet's outstanding performer on the basis of his 15-4¾ vault which breaks the 20 year old meet record of 15-1 set by Cornelius Warmerdam. Ernie Cunliffe has the best mark on the track with his 3:49.0 1500, “a tremendous effort given the poor condition of the track”. He leaves Archie San Romani, George Larson and Barry Almond well behind.
Now a week has passed and we are at Stanford for an all-comers meet. This is not just any old all-comers as evidenced by the setting of two American records. Olympic 5000 champion Murray Halberg is running the two mile for a tune up for next week's Oregon Invitational. There is no significant competition and the New Zealander is on his own. He puts miles of 4:19.5 and 4:21.3 together to win by over half a minute in an American all-comers record of 8:40.8.
Not to be outdone, in the very next race Ernie Cunliffe establishes an American record for 1000 yards with a 2:07.3, the fastest time ever recorded, but there is no recognized world record for this distance, so the American record will have to do. He splits 55.0, 1:51.3 and finishes with a strong 26.2 final 200.
The first of the indoor meets is the inaugural Oregon Invitational held January 14 in Portland. The track, built in Eugene to Bill Bowerman's specifications, is made of ½ inch plywood with tongue-in-groove fitting and 44 inch banking on the curves at a cost of $15,000. Athletes who have run the Eastern indoor tracks say it is the best they have seen. The only complaint is from Bowerman who says that it is too well made. “We could have put it together for $5000 (without tongue-in-groove) and still had a quality surface. It will last forever.”
Murray Halberg sure loves it. He breaks Al Lawrence's indoor 2 mile world record by 11.7 seconds in an oddly paced race. After passing the mile in 4:16.0, he runs the next 880 in 2:20 before going to the afterburners to complete the last half mile in 1:58.3 for a time of 8:34.3. The band breaks into “God Save the Queen” and the crowd of 7111 gives him a two minute standing ovation. Halberg, a laboratory technician in an Auckland brewery, responds with the understated, “It's all in a day's work”. Though left far behind, Lazlo Tabori's 8:47.6 is his best ever on the boards.
Jim Beatty is over the foot injury that kept him from performing his best in the Olympics. He demonstrates his fitness in the mile or at least the last half of the mile. The 880 is reached in a plodding 2:09. Dyrol Burleson then throws down a 61.0, but it is nowhere near enough to keep Beatty at bay. With only half a lap to go, the former North Carolina star separates the men from the boys with a burst that gives him a 15 yard victory in 4:07.4. A discouraged Burleson who is about to undertake a three week tour of New Zealand says, “Maybe somebody who deserves it should take the trip”. The future would not be served without a mention of the fourth place finisher, Bob Schul, who clocks 4:19.5.
Roscoe Cook takes the measure of Darrell Horn and Harry Jerome with a world record equaling 6.0 60. Horn returns to take the broad jump by nearly a foot and a half with a 25-6¼.
Contrary to his remarks after the Olympics, Parry O'Brien is back in the shot put ring. He throws 61-11¾ to leave Dallas Long's 59-3 far behind. Ron Morris gets the better of Don Bragg who can't match Morris' 15-0 vault.
The only faux pas of the evening comes in the 500 where Bowerman has the race run in lanes all the way in an attempt to provide a world record. Obviously the staggers are enormous and apparently confusing. The race should be a dual between Otis Davis and Eddie Southern, but isn't. Both are confounded by the stagger and lose count of the laps to the benefit of Washington State's Rick Harder who wins in 59.5, the same time as Davis and a tenth ahead of Southern.
Murray Halberg may be the present king of the two mile, but the future belongs to 17 year old Bruce Kidd of Canada as measured by his performance in the Boston Knights of Columbus meet this day. Running against 31 year old Pete McArdle and 39 year old Fred Norris, the teen prodigy follows through half mile splits of 2:11, 4:25 and 6:40, before jumping the veteran foreigners with 4¼ laps of the 160 yard track remaining. His move startles the competition and delights the crowd. He opens a 15 yard lead on McArdle who closes only to have the kid open ground again. McArdle makes one more gallant effort, closing within two yards on the final lap, but the Kidd holds him off for an 8:49.2 – 8:49.6 victory. Former Harvard hurdler Bob Rittenburg writes, “Boston Garden was in danger of collapsing from the vibration of the cheering that the fans sustained during the last four laps of the race and the two extra laps that Bruce jogged with the spotlight on him.”
January 21 finds us at the second annual Los Angeles Invitational. The Los Angeles sports fan has the Rams, Lakers, Dodgers, USC and UCLA, yet 13,586 fill the Sports Arena. Would that that be the case now.
The track, “a $12,000 spruce job from Finland, was judged slow and in need of work by some of the runners”. Times were slow in the 500, 600 and 1000 (Ernie Cunliffe, where are you?), but the mile and two were quality races. We will get to them later. Right now the spotlight falls on the rejuvenated Parry O'Brien. The two time Olympic champion once again dominates the shot put. His 63-1½ throw with the bee-bee packed leather shot is a world record. Dave Davis improves a foot from last week's mark at 60-4, but the day belongs to O'Brien.
Ralph Boston's initial indoor indoor effort results in an American indoor record of 25-10, leaving Darrell Horn, last week's 25-6 winner, far behind at 23-9. Bob Avant, a senior at USC, surprises with a 6-ll PR to win the HJ by four inches. Lazlo Tabori edges Max Truex at two miles, 8:53.2 to 8:55.0. Hayes Jones wins the 60 HH in 7.1 and says he will concentrate on the sprints from now on.
Roscoe Cook, who tied the WR in the 60 last week in Oregon, misses replicating that performance by a tenth with a 6.1 victory over a good field. But “One of the best sprint performances of the evening came at the end of the mile when Jim Bailey exploded past a strong running Ernie Cunliffe and left his pursuer by nearly 15 yards in the last 100” to win in 4:06.4.
Under the heading “Late News” there is abbreviated news of happenings on January 28. John Thomas betters his indoor WR (7-2½) with a clearance of 7-3 1/8 in the Boston AA meet. If he had done it the day before it would have been a world record, but earlier this day Valeriy Brummel, still only 18, jumped 7-4½ in Leningrad. Obviously Thomas has some ground to make up.
Who doesn't have ground to make up is Ernie Cunliffe who scorches the Boston track in an American indoor record 2:07.9 1000. Too bad this is not a regulation event as it seems to be EC's best. He is not the only Bay Area middle distance runner heard from this New England evening. Former Cal star Jerry Siebert takes the 600 in 1:11.2. No details are given for either race. Olympic champ, Ralph Boston, does not win the broad jump. This is because he skips the event, instead winning the 45 yard hurdles and takes second in the high jump at 6-6.
Down under on the same day it would appear that Dyrol Burleson's apprehension about competing in New Zealand was unfounded. He wins the invitational mile in Auckland in 4:05.6, edging Peter Snell by inches. Once again no details are given.
Perusal of columns provides the following information. Pro football has taken plucked two more from the rolls of track and field. Bowling Green hurdler Bernie Casey has signed with the 49ers and Olympic intermediate hurdle bronze medalist Dick Howard of New Mexico will wear the blue and white of the Cowboys......Remember the item about Bill Nieder taking a Hollywood screen test? Seems to have worked out. The Olympic shot put champ has just signed a contract to play Jack Dempsey in an upcoming movie........The Helms Athletic Foundation has just announced its' selection for the top athletes for each continent. Livio Berrutti of Italy wins for Europe. Peter Snell is the “Australian” winner. The HAF strikes a blow for gender equity by naming Wilma Rudolph the North American winner.......Speaking of awards, the prestigious Sullivan Award goes to Rafer Johnson. But the balloting reflects the progress women have made as Wilma Rudolph finishes second........Peter Snell writes that the success he and Murray Halberg enjoyed at the Rome Olympics, “really put athletics to the fore here, and we will soon have our first cinder track. There are four tracks planned for completion by '62”. Contrast this with Finland which has 730 cinder tracks.....Herb Elliot says his performances may deteriorate while he attends college in England because Percy Cerutty will remain in Australia. “Any teaching he has got, I have learned, but he does more than teach. He inspires.”........Dan Ferris, secretary of the national AAU says that three to five track men will be picked to compete in South Africa in March or April. He says no question of color or race was raised by the South African AAU, but the team “is expected to contain no Negroes”.......And now a brief visit to our I Am Not Making This Up department. Avery Brundage, the IOC president, has suggested.....are you sitting down?...that gold medal winners be barred from future Olympics in order to give more athletes a chance......Looks like the Nelson brothers made rent this month. There are two one page ads: You can buy high jump and pole vault standards from The John L. Haines company in Galva, Illinois (or “dealers everywhere”) and Ryan Films of Hamden, Connecticut has six 16mm instructional sound films (discus, high jump, hurdles, shot put, pole vault and broad jump) available for purchase in either color or black and white.....Just in case you wondered, the cost of the magazine remains $3 a year and Clifford Severn Sporting Goods still owns the back page.

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