Friday, April 20, 2012

Vol 2 No. 37 June, 1961


JUNE 1961

If you are a track fan of a certain age, this issue of T&FN will make you feel warm and fuzzy all over. We'll take it chronologically beginning May 20.

The Big Eight Championships are held in Boulder, Colorado. Oklahoma upsets perennial champ Kansas 99-88¼ with Oklahoma State right there at 84½. This is the first time Kansas has not won the championship since 1951. It is the first Big Eight championship for Oklahoma since.....are your ready?....1935. If you want to take a moment to sing a few verses of Boomer Sooner, we'll wait.
Oklahoma University Big 8 Champions , Boulder, Colorado 1961
Front Row: Mike Lindsay, Cal Sharpe, Neville Soll, Mark Sullivan, Tim Leonard, Paul Ebert, Don Warrick, Lee Smith, Buddy Stewart
Top Row: Bob Wilcox, Walter Myers, Richard Sinclair, Bill Noble, J.D. Martin, Coach Bill Carroll, Mark Brady, Tom Raley, Steve Swafford, E.H. Miles
(Click on photo to enlarge)
But team scores pale when compared to the world record vault of Okie State's George Davies who, after two misses at 15-10¼, clears to raise Don Bragg's record by an inch.

An aside here. There is a photo of Davies, who is 6-3, 190 and blessed with movie star good looks. Have you ever noticed that pole vaulters are the quarterbacks of track? More often than not they are broad shouldered good looking guys. Not that we have a 50 year old man crush on the guy. Just making an observation.

Given the importance of the meet, the marks are not outstanding. The best marks on the track are a conference record 46.5 440 by Colorado's Jim Heath, a 1:49.2 880 by Kansas' Kirk Hagan.

and a 14.1, 22.8 hurdle double by Kansas State's Rex Stucker. Apparently the altitude takes its toll in the distance events as Bill Dotson and Billy Mills run only 4:14.5 and 9:31.2, just good enough to win.

The Sooners, led by Mike Lindsay's weight double, 57-5½ and 164-2, garner 54 of their points in the field events.

Aside number two: Perhaps this kid, Toomey at Colorado
should find a sport better suited to his talents. He places fifth in the lows at 24.1 and fails to score in the long jump. Maybe tennis, golf or croquet would be a better fit.

Bill Toomey and Coach Frank Potts , after they figured it out. On this same day the Far West Championships are held in Corvallis, Oregon. Oregon's Harry Jerome runs 9.3 to grab a share of the 100 WR. Dyrol Burleson miles in 4:05.6 and returns to run a PR of 1:48.7 in the 880.

Four days later in Eugene Archie San Romani leads through splits of 59.0 and 1:58.5 before Burleson takes over, hitting the 1320 in 2:58.0 and hanging on to finish in 3:57.6 to break Jim Beatty's American mile record of 3:58.0. In another three days Beatty and Burleson will be in Modesto for the California Relays, but the long awaited match between them won't come about. Beatty is running the mile and Burleson is anchoring the Oregon 4 mile relay.

Now it is Saturday evening, May 27 and we are in Modesto. This meet will be remembered because it is tonight that the 27 foot barrier is broken with half an inch to spare by Ralph Boston. Each member of the overflow crowd of 11,100 has an I-was-there story to tell. Overshadowed are great performances. Hal Connolly experiments with four turns instead of three in the hammer and it pays off with a prodigious 226-0½, the third longest throw in history, only five feet short of his WR. Hayes Jones nips Don Styron in the highs, 13.6 to 13.7, but Styron returns to edge Bo Roberson in the lows 22.1 to 22.3. Dennis Johnson, Harry Jerome and Dave Styron cross the line in that order in the hundred, all running 9.4. Like his twin, Styron is not done. He returns to win the 220 in 20.7. The 880 goes out in 55.5. Jerry Siebert takes the lead into the final straight only to be passed by George Kerr. But Siebert isn't through. He regains the lead and powers to a three yard win over the great Jamaican in 1:50.2.

Dale Story of Oregon State has only been training for eight weeks after coming off an injury, but he has enough in the tank to finish the last half of the two mile in 4:17.9 to win in 8:46.9 and leave Doug Kyle and Charley Clark behind. Jim Beatty is stalked by Jim Grelle through laps of 58.2, 2:00.2 and 3:02.2. The pace doesn't pick up until the backstretch when Beatty drops the hammer and pulls away for a 3:58.8 to 4:01.3 win. His 56.6 last lap is even more impressive considering his delayed late sprint. Cordner Nelson says Beatty's last 220 had to be 26 flat.

Since the meet is the California Relays, yes, there are relays. Texas Southern wins two close ones, upsetting San Jose State in the 440, 40.2 for both, then returns to edge Abilene Christian in the 880, 1:23.6 for both.

Oregon State also wins a couple impressive races. Norm Hoffman, given a slight lead on the anchor leg, brings the baton around in 1:48.8 to cement the second fastest sprint medley ever run, 3:18.4. In the two mile relay the Beavers gamble, holding Norm Monroe out of the 880 relay and inserting him on the third leg. It pays off. OSU has a tenth on the Santa Clara Valley Youth Village and the pressure is on Monroe to open a gap because Ernie Cunliffe will be anchoring for SCVYV. He comes through. His 1:50.8 produces a three second gap for Hoffman who needs it. Though Cunliffe runs 1:48.1, the fastest two laps of the evening, Hoffman's 1:50.1 is enough to bring the Beavers home in 7:27.3.

The WR in the 4 mile relay is 16:25.2 by the Hungarian national team. Oregon plans to break it, but after two disappointing legs, it is obvious this will not happen. Indeed they may not win. Dyrol Burleson is 12 yards down to Southern Illinois' Englishman, Mike Wiggs, at the start of the anchor leg. His 57.7 opening lap closes the gap. With no chance at the record, Burley is content to follow before blowing by in the final straight. His 4:00.5, three seconds faster than Wiggs, gives the Ducks a bittersweet victory in 16:32.8.

Now it is June 2 and we are at the Compton Invitational where a crowd of 7800 sees Herb Elliot take a beating. Okay, not Herb himself – he wasn't there – but his records. Jim Grelle wins the mile in 4:02.7, but the crowd is cheering for 18 year old high school senior Tom Sullivan who breaks Elliot's world junior record (4:04.3), finishing second in 4:03.5. The assault on the great Aussie's records continues. Seventeen year old Bruce Kidd races to, in Cordner Nelson's words, “the most amazing performance, by age, of any runner in history”, a 13:56.4 5000 victory over Max Truex and Lazlo Tabori. After following Truex through mile splits of 4:28 and 9:00, with a lap and a half to go, the young Canadian takes off and leaves the Olympic veteran in his wake. His three mile time obliterated Elliot's WJR of 14:02.4. His final time lowered Kidd's own record of 14:29.9.

Abilene Christian ties USC's collegiate mile relay record as Earl Young's 46.0 brings the Texans home in 3:07.6. Ernie Cunliffe has a big evening, breaking the meet record at 800 meters (1:47.5) en route to a convincing 1:48.2 victory in the half mile. Among the scalps he collects this evening is that of Jim Beatty who finishes sixth in 1:50.2.

If you are a meet director, you want to invite Bo Roberson. He definitely gives you your money's worth. In addition to broad jumping, he ran the lows at Modesto last week. Tonight he wins the broad jump at 25-9¾ and fills his idle moments placing second in the 100 and fourth in the 200. Last seen, he was sweeping out the stands after the crowd left.

Ron Morris wins the pole vault at 15-4 as new world record holder George Davis and previous record holder Don Bragg can do no better than a tie for fourth at 15-0¾. Dallas Long bests Parry O'Brien 62-3¾ to 61-7¼ in the shot. Hal Connolly, once again proves that his performance in Rome was an aberration. His 221-1 wins by 26 feet.

Great discus competition does not required the presence of Olympic champ Al Oerter. Rink Babka and Jay Silvester are doing just fine without him, thank you. On his second throw Silvester spins a world record distance of 198-0½, but loses his balance and steps on the ring. (Why a foul is measured is not addressed.) Still he leads through five rounds with 194-1½. Babka has been throwing well all night, but now, up for the final time, it is for all the marbles. The big guy, “his injured knee encased in plastic”, readies himself, takes a deep breath, spins and fires. The spot is marked, the tape stretched out, the measurement taken and announced: 194-4½ and a three inch victory. Who needs Al Oerter to have a good time?

Now you may be saying what a great meet, but where was Ralph Boston? That would be at the NAIA championship in Sioux Falls, South Dakota supporting his team, Tennessee A&I. Well, if we are to be totally forthcoming, he is the team. He wins the broad jump at 25-6½, the hop-step-jump at 48-10¾, the highs in 13.7 and the lows in 23.2 and finishes in a tie for second in the high jump at 6-6 for TA&I's 47 points, two behind Texas Southern. Ralph earned his scholarship this day, but he doesn't get the headline in the article. That goes to a Florida A&M freshman, Robert Hayes, who adds his name to the long list of those who hold the 100 record at 9.3. For record purposes the track is measured: 100 yards and a half inch. There was some mention that he also participates in football.

Listed under Late News there are a couple AAU meets of interest. In the Middle Atlantic AAU at Villanova Frank Budd runs his second 9.3 100. The Southern Pacific AAU showcases young talent. Dallas Long, still only 20, puts it all together and comes up with three puts over 64 feet with a PR of 64-7¾. Only Bill Nieder has thrown further. High school boys give their elders a lesson. Ulis Williams of Compton HS takes the 440 in 46.5. Ralph Turner of Burroughs edges Forest Beaty of Glendale Hoover in the 220 on a curve as both run 21.0.

Inexplicably, though the AAU meets just mentioned were run on June 9 and listed under Late News, the Pacific Association AAU meet run the following day at Stanford is front page material...and justly so. Oregon failed in an attempt to break the WR in the 4 mile relay. Now it is the Santa Clara Valley Youth Village's turn. The problem is that they have virtually no competition. US 10,000 record holder Max Truex will lead off, followed by Lazlo Tabori, Ernie Cunliffe and Jim Beatty. Truex figures to be the slow leg and he is. After two laps in 2:03.1, the pace slows dramatically and he hands the baton off in 4:10.8. Tabori, after 59.7 and 2:01.0 splits, also suffers a case of the slows in the second half mile and finishes in a disappointing 4:08.9. Still with Cunliffe up and Beatty on deck, 16:25.2 looks beatable. Ernie C. does his job, splitting 58.9, 2:00.0 and 3:01.9 and kicking home in 61.1 to run 4:03.0. All that is needed now is a 4:02.4 from Beatty. The recently dethroned American record holder at this distance is out well, 58.6, but a 62.7 puts him at 2:01.3. The third lap is even slower, 63.2 (3:04.5) and now the typical Jim Beatty kick is needed. His “usual blazing surge” isn't there and the last go round takes 59.3, producing a 4:03.8 leg and a 16:26.5 final time, an American record, but a disappointment just the same.

The season is heating up in Europe. Two world records are broken. The USSR's Grigoriy Taran runs the steeplechase in 8:31.2 and Italy's Carlo Lievore throws the javelin 284-7 (or 84.74 as they say in Europe).

We here at the Vest would be remiss were we not to give you an informational advantage the next time the conversation at the Dew Drop in turns, as it inevitably will, to track and field. Ask your buddies if they can recall the last time a major invitational had sprint fields consisting only of white guys. Oh, what the heck, all events having only white guys. Allow sufficient time for the significance of this to set in while they ponder. The answer would be the 1961 Meet of Champions in Houston held on June 9, well before racial enlightenment. When black athletes found that seating would be segregated, they boycotted the meet. Being the possessor of this sort of inside information means you will not have to pay for a round the rest of the evening.

1 comment:

Jerome said...

I survived the June 1961 Big 8 meet in Boulder. At the time, no one gave a serious thought about the effects of high altitude on the "distance" runners. Most of us flatlanders nearly croaked. It was my first Big 8 outdoor championships and I was running well all season with a 1:50.1 880 just two weeks before. The front pack went the the quarter in 54 & the 660 in 1:21 then went into staggering single file to the finish line. I limped home in 29 over the last 220, which felt like an hour.

There were stories of woe like that over all the track that day. Bob Heineken, our star 2 miler went out fast in hopes of setting a school record, only to collapse with half mile to go, ending up on an oxygen bottle.

The tough guys made it to the end, but without any performances to write home about.

Ah yes, altitude might be something to think about...

Jerry McFadden

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