Sunday, September 9, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 87 July 1962 National AAU meet and Polish Dual

JULY 1962
And now we return to those golden days of yesteryear and the 1962 National AAU Championships held at Mount San Antonio College. This is the meet that will determine the US team for the meets with Poland and the Soviet Union.
Al Oerter lost his discus WR to Vladimir Trusenyov of the Soviet Union three weeks ago and is determined to get it back. He doesn't, but puts on the most dominating performance in discus history, defeating former WR holders, Rink Babka and Jay Silvester. He's done that before so why was this so dominating? Because all six of his throws were better than the best of any other competitor. His winning throw of 202-2 is an American record and a mere ½ inch off Trusenyov's record. Babka is second at 193-4½, putting him on the team.
Speaking of Olympic champions who recently lost WRs to Soviets, Ralph Boston has not been having a good season. He rallies this night to jump 26-6 and win by nearly a foot over Paul Warfield's 25-6¼.

This is 9+ inches short of Ter-Ovanesyan's record, but heightens the excitement of a head to head showdown with the great Russian in the upcoming dual meet.
Oerter and Boston are not the only Americans to lose a WR to a Russian. Add John Thomas to that list. Today Thomas wins, but leaves spectators wondering what happened. He jumps 6-10 to win on misses over Gene Johnson of Cal and Bob Avants of SC. A national championship should be celebrated, but the fact that he can't clear 6-11 and is half a foot under Brumel's record is cause for concern. The guy has gone from the greatest high jumper in history to just another good jumper. He will have a chance to rectify this situation in the Russian dual meet.
Gary Gubner, after a season of being pounded by Dallas Long, has perseverance pay off. Trailing on his penultimate try on a chilly evening, the giant New Yorker uncorks a throw of 63-6½ to surpass Long's 63-1¼. Long succumbs to the pressure on his last effort, hitting only 58-2 and Gubner is the US champ.

Washington's John Cramer, still using the stone age metal pole, improves his PR in the nationals for the fourth time in four years with a vault of 15-8¼, good enough to make the team, but not good enough to defeat veteran Ron Morris who clears 16-0¼. World record holder Dave Tork vaults 15-8¼, but loses a spot on the team on misses.

Ron Morris

Jerry Dyes
Tork is not the only world record holder to lose this day. In the hammer throw Al Hall, competing for the New York AC, puts the pressure on WR holder Hal Connolly from the beginning, throwing 211, 215 and 219-3 before Connolly can manage a fair throw. He finally responds with 215- ½, enough to make the team, but not to defeat Hall. Hall is described as jubilant and justly so. This is his first win over the '56 Olympic champion in ten years of trying.
Dan Studney of SCVYV wins the javelin at 246-6. Marine Nick Kovalakides' 245-10 keeps Jerry Dyes off the team by 9½ inches. This may have been Jerry's last competition. ed.
Paul Drayton supplies the big news in the track events. After placing fourth in the 100 at 9.5, he runs the 220 on the curve in 20.5 to tie Great Britain's Peter Radford's world record. Roger Sayers, Homer Jones and Steve Haas finish within a foot of each other in 20.8 with Sayers making the team.
Harry Jerome

World record holder Frank Budd has the early lead in the 100, but Canadian Harry Jerome and Bob Hayes are coming on fast. Suddenly Budd is out of it with a pulled muscle and Hayes goes on to win in 9.3. Jerome is second at 9.4. Sayers edges Drayton for the second spot on the team, 9.4 to 9.5.
The 120HH is the best race of the meet. Hayes Jones always gets a great start and this is one of his best. By the second hurdle the former Eastern Michigan star has five feet on NCAA champ Jerry Tarr. Then the tide turns. Tarr is gaining that margin back, nearly a foot a hurdle. They are even at the ninth hurdle. Jones refuses to give up and they hit the tape together with Tarr's superior lean providing a two inch win as both clock 13.4. Up and coming Blaine Lindgren takes third in 13.7.
Just as in last week's NCAA meet, Tarr is not done. This time he doubles in the not-so-important-anymore 220LH (straight), winning his heat in 22.8 after Miami of Ohio's Scott Tyler throws down a 22.6 in the first heat. In the final Tyler is out early and holds a two yard lead at the ninth hurdle. Tarr then finds the gear that the rest of the field doesn't have and sweeps to victory in 22.6. Tyler barely holds off Tom Hester, an 18.3 high schooler, with both clocking 22.7. No great heartbreaks here as there will be no Polish or Russian meet competition in this event. Note: This Bill Toomey kid doesn't know when to quit. He runs last in his heat in an embarrassing 24.3. Someone should take him aside and suggest a sport in which he has a better chance of success, maybe golf, bowling or badminton.
Willie Atterberry is 6-1½ and 148 pounds. He may not look strong, but after training with Mihaly Igloi this season, his newly found strength shows. Lawson Smart and Rex Cawley are out fast, but here comes Willie. He catches them at the eighth hurdle, takes the lead at the ninth and holds on to win in 50.5, an improvement of half a second on his best. Cawley takes second in 50.6 to make the dual meet team as Smart fades to 51.1.
Jim Beatty
The quality of the mile field is evidenced by the fact that Bob Vinton finishes his 4:06.9 heat with a sub 56 lap, but unfortunately for Bob, so do four others. Bob will be watching the final from the stands, a race that will be described as “the greatest mile ever run by Americans”. The rumor is that Jim Beatty will be attempting to run a world record, a task made more difficult by the lack of Dyrol Burleson in the field.
With Bob Seaman taking the field through the 220 in 27.4, no one can afford to dawdle. Jim Grelle leads at the quarter in 58.3. He moves out to let Beatty control his own destiny and the lead, but the pace drops to 1:59.7 at the half with Grelle, Cary Weisiger, Bill Dotson and New Zealand's John Davies in close attendance. Other 60+ lap takes the world record out of the picture as Weisiger leads at the bell in 3:00.5. Grelle and Beatty are side by side right behind. The pace picks up around the turn and the penultimate 220 is covered in 28.9. Beatty makes his move, but it is not the explosive burst for which he is known and Weisiger holds him off early in the final curve. Here Grelle turns on the heat and leads through 1500 in 3:41.5. Beatty follows on his shoulder and now Weisiger is third, a yard back as they enter the straight. Dotson is there, but beginning to fall back. Down the straight they come with Grelle holding off Beatty's rush until mid straight when he begins to tie up. The race is Beatty's and now the source of drama is who else makes the team. Weisiger gains on the fading Grelle, catching him five yards from the tape, but the ex-Oregon star is not done. He leans and falls across the line, inches ahead of the hard charging marine. Dotson has to move out to keep from stepping on Grelle. The result – Beatty 3:57.9, Grelle 3:58.1, Wesiger 3:58.1 and Dotson 3:59.0 – is the first time four Americans have broken four minutes in one race. Davies is fifth in 4:00.2. Grelle's badge of honor are his skinned knee and elbow. He has made the team.
The long distances go to foreigners. Bruce Kidd, the amazing 18 year old Canadian, produces an American all comers record in Friday night's six mile, 28:23.2. Peter McArdle technically takes the American record in 28:34.8, five seconds ahead of John Gutknecht. The word technically is used because Max Truex's Olympic 10,000 would have had him passing six miles 40 seconds faster.
Bruce Kidd
The next day when the field for the three mile toes the line, there next to Murray Halberg, Dyrol Burleson, Lazlo Tabori and Truex, is that kid, Kidd, again. Hasn't anyone told him that 18 year olds aren't supposed to run at this level nor win at this level and certainly not double against an Olympic champion in a national championship meet? Apparently not, as he is still there at two miles, reached in 9:08, after Burleson and Tabori have dropped out. Truex is doing the work, but with a lap to go Halberg pulls alongside and the race is on. Kidd runs his final lap in 58.8. Truex clocks 58.4, but it is Halberg's 56.2 that provides the see ya moment. Halberg 13:30.6, Truex 13:32.8, Kidd 13:33.8, Pat Clohessey 13:36.2. Charlie Clark's 13:50.8 fifth place finish is significant as, thanks to the plethora of foreign runners, he is the second American and will run in the dual meets. Kidd apologies after the race. “I'm sorry but I just couldn't stay with them. I guess I'm not a doubler. At least not yet.”
Bill Sharpe says he can't run 100 meters under 11 seconds and can't long jump much more than 21 feet, yet inexplicably he wins the triple jump at 52-1¼. Kermit Alexander, the “heavy legged Negro football star” is second at 50-9¾ until veteran Herman Stokes jumps 51-1¼ on his fifth jump to take Kermit's spot on the international team.
Ulis Williams, Adolph Plummer and Ray Saddler win their 440 heats as NCAA champ, Hubert Brown is ill and runs last in his race. Williams, mindful of Plummer, starts faster than usual and holds a yard lead over Plummer and Saddler as the field enters the straight. Plummer's strong finish fails him this time and Williams holds form to pull away for a four yard victory over Saddler. His 45.8 is only a tenth off Glenn Davis' world record (obviously soft, considering the 400 meter record is 44.9). Fellow freshman Saddler runs 46.2. Veteran George Kerr edges Cal freshman Dave Archibald for third, both clocking 46.3. Plummer is fifth at 46.4. With freshmen finishing 1-2-4, it appears the US 400/440 is in good hands for the next few years.
It would seem that the steeplechase is open to whomever steps up. Deacon Jones and George Young voice doubts about their condition. Bob Schul is out with mononucleosis. NCAA champ Pat Traynor ran fast in the NCAA's last year and then failed in the AAU meet. Would he be able to run fast two weeks in a row this time? Keith Forman is inexperienced. He dropped out of last week's race. He has potential, but can he realize it today?
Traynor has no doubts. He leads through five laps before Young pulls alongside, followed closely by Jones, Jeff Fishback and Forman. Shortly later, Young, the American record holder at 8:38.0, begins to pull away. By seven laps he has 15 yards over Forman who has passed Traynor on the backstretch. Jones, to no one's surprise has dropped out. Young wins in 8:48.2, but the drama is in seeing who joins him on the dual meet team. Forman answers the call, leaving Traynor behind, 8:52.2 to 8:56.6. Fishback is fourth two seconds back. Young says that he could have run 8:40 today, but that that won't be enough against the Russians.
And finally, the 800. The heats are wicked. Warren Farlow runs 1:49.5, Norm Hoffman 1:49.3 and Greg Pelster 1:49.7, all personal bests, but none good enough to make the final. The field is loaded: former Cal stars and Olympians Jack Yerman and Jerry Siebert, defending champion Jim Dupree, John Reilly, Sig Ohlemann and Ben Tucker all have a chance. Siebert leads through the 220 in 25.8. No one wants to take over, so the next half lap falls off to 28.2, making the quarter 54.0. Yerman, second most of the way, pulls even with Siebert at the 660, reached in 1:20.8. Siebert, on the inside, holds the lead around the curve, but now Dupree is on his heels ready to move on the straight. Yerman begins to fade and now Dupree is boxed. Siebert is home free, a winner in 1:47.1. Once clear, Dupree doesn't close, but holds off the long charge of Reilly who comes from eight yards back in the stretch to pass Yerman. Dupree 1:47.6, Reilly 1:47.7, Yerman 1:47.9. Siebert is pleased. “This is a much bigger win than anything I have had before.”

In the summer of 1962 I had just finished my freshman year at U. of Oklahoma and returned to my home in Dayton, OH to spend the summer.  Knowing this dual meet between the U.S. and Poland would be a great chance to see our best track and field athletes and the strong Polish team with its sprinters, throwers and distance runners, I took a train to Chicago and stayed with relatives that weekend.  The meet was held at the U. of Chicago's football stadium.  Beneath that grandstand the world's first nuclear fission reaction had taken place only twenty years before the meet.  The mixture of cinders and peat had been imported from the track in Ireland where Herb Elliot had set his world record in the mile a few years earlier.  For some reason that track was removed and some enterprising group bought it  and excavated the old Chicago track and back filled it with the old sod of the Emerald Isle.  I've not been able to find the photos I took at the meet, but I recall the shoving match between George Young and Kryzkowiak.  I also remember Beatty outkicking the field in the homestretch of the 1500.  Most of the rest is all forgotten.  With Chicago, having the second largest Polish speaking community in the world after Warsaw, it was rare to hear any English spoken in the stands.  It was equivalent to a USA Mexico soccer match played in Los Angeles today.  One American I do remember was Walt Bellamy the NBA player then with the Chicago Packers who was in attendance.  Today the old stadium and track are gone, and the new track runs north south rather than the previous east west.   A library stands on the old location.  I wonder if there was much nuclear contamination on that site.   George Brose ed.
A week later, Jnne 30, July 1 to be exact, the teams meet in Chicago. This is the precursor for the Russian dual meet three weeks off. There is no doubt the US will win, but there are questions to be answered in several events.
The first day is a disaster for the Poles. The US goes 1-2 in all but two events, the 5000 where Max Truex and Charlie Clark run 2-4, and the high jump which Gene Johnson wins at 7-0½, but John Thomas can only clear 6-9¾ and loses second on misses. Long and Gubner throw 63-9 and 63-5 for a four foot margin over the best Pole. Remember Al Hall's upset of Hal Connolly in the hammer a week ago? Well, maybe that wasn't such an upset. Hall does it again, 214-11 to 211-2. This is the most competitive field event of the meet as the Poles throw 208-11 and 207-10. The most competitive track event also takes place the first day. Witold Baran of Poland takes the lead on the backstretch of the 1500 only to have Jim Beatty go wide on the turn to pass him and Cary Weisiger nip him at the tape. Beatty 3:41.9, Weisiger 3:42.5, Baran 3:42.7. The least competitive race from a team aspect is the 110 hurdles where Jerry Tarr once again edges Hayes Jones on the run in, 13.6 for both. They put on their sweats and warm down while waiting for the Poles who finish in 14.9 and 15.3.
The second day provides some solace for the visitors. They sweep the javelin and the triple jump and provide the big surprise of the meet in which Marian Foik edges Paul Drayton and Homer Jones in the 200, 21.0 to 21.1 for the Americans. The most controversial race is the steeplechase where Poland's Olympic champion and world record holder, Zdzislaw Krzyskowiak (“Krzys” from now on), locks up in a tight dual with George Young. On the Pole's heels on the final lap, Young takes advantage of Krzys running in the second lane by trying to squeeze by the Pole on the pole. Krzys cuts him off. Young retaliates by pushing him, but the moment is lost and so is the race. Krys wins 8:38.0 to 8:42.4, times that don't reflect how tight the race was as Young “had to stop and climb over the last hurdle”. Chicago has a large Polish population. At the awards ceremony Young is booed as if this were Warsaw. Aside from the 110 hurdles the other race that is a foregone conclusion is the 1600 (not yet 4x4) relay where Saddler, Cawley, Archibald and Williams run 3:03.7 to leave the Poles far behind in 3:11.3.
We've saved the best for the last. Remember last month's report of Russian Vladimir Trusenyev breaking Al Oerter's world record in the discus? Well, you can rest easy. Big Al has it back. On Sunday he spins one out 204-10½ to reclaim his record by over 2½ feet. In three weeks Trusenyev and Oerter will meet in Palo Alto and we will be there to cover the action.
This report would not be complete without a footnote. Ron Morris and John Cramer vault 15-3 and 14-11 to go 1-2 in the pole vault. The best Pole vaulter (sorry about that) is third at 14-5. But it is the mark of the second Pole that is the eye-catcher. A game chap by the name of Piotr Sobotta takes fourth at 9-0. Let me be clear: nine feet in an international competition. Sobatta is the Polish high jump champion. He finished fourth in yesterday's competition at 6-6¾. There must have been a injury and Piotr volunteered to embarrass himself in a replacement role to earn that fourth place point in the PV. The final score is 131-81 so it is not as if that point is important. Henceforth in this reporter's lexicon the word “Sobatta” means taking one for the team. Next time you see a batter lean in and get hit by a pitch he could have avoided, you can say to yourself, “That's a Sobatta”. When a point guard holds his ground to take a charge by a fast breaking Dwight Howard, that's a Sobatta. When your high hurdler volunteers to run the third leg on the 4x4 with the meet on the line, that's a Sobatta. You are now armed with a new word; go forth and use it well.

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