Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Vol. 3 No. 21 July , 1963

Ross and Norris McWhirther
How do they figure in this Track and Field blog?
Read on.

JULY 1963
What if you gave a track meet and nobody showed up? Well, that isn't exactly what happened at the NCAA meet in Albuquerque, but the attendance was disappointing. When Adolph Plummer set his 440 record last month the crowd was 12,000. Adolph has used up his eligibility and isn't running in this meet. The attendance reflects his absence. Only 3800 show up on Thursday night. Friday's competition is seen by “a few more” and seats are available throughout Saturday's final as only 10,024 are in attendance.
That select few see USC win another NCAA title, but the Trojans do so by standing on the shoulders of their smallest performer, distance runner Julio Marin. Because of the 4600 foot altitude the distance times are slow, but first place is all that matters to Marin. He wins the six mile Thursday and the three mile Friday. Just to keep busy on Saturday he runs his first steeplechase and finishes fourth, providing the Trojans with 24 of their 61 points and outscoring all but four teams by himself.
Rex Cawley produces another 18 as he wins the 440 hurdles and places second to Ulis Williams in the 440. Together he and Marin equal the score of second place Stanford. Behinds SC's 61 and Stanford's 42 the West Coast's dominance is obvious. Arizona State takes third at 39 followed by Villanova 36, Oregon State 29, San Jose State 21, Occidental and Southern Illinois 18, Washington 17, California 15, NYU 14, Purdue 12 and Fresno State 11.
Three meet records are set. In the 440 hurdles Cawley comes from two yards down at the top of the stretch to catch the leaders, Jim Miller of Colorado and Billy Hardin of LSU, and record the fastest time in the world this year, 49.6. Half miler Ron Whitney of Occidental comes from even further back to take second at 50.3 and perhaps contemplate an event change. Jim Allen of Washington State is third at 50.5.
Henry Carr gets the second record when he holds off Stanford's Larry Questad by a tenth in 20.5. Purdue's Nate Adams (Cleveland Glenville HS) is third at 21.0. There is a photo on page 7 of this issue where these three are hitting the tape together in the 100. One can't find a better shot of a dead heat. The Bulova phototimer sorts them out. Questad, Carr and Adams in that order, all timed in 9.7 into the wind.
Not surprisingly the third meet record goes to Brian Sternberg, but not without an element of doubt. In the qualifying on Thursday he makes 15-4 only to have his pole go under the bar disqualifying his clearance. A miss on the second attempt puts him in jeopardy of not making Saturday's final. He confers with teammate John Cramer before clearing on the dramatic third jump. When Saturday rolls around he is his unbeatable self, setting a meet record of 16-4¾ as Rolando Cruz of Villanova, Cramer, Fred Hansen of Rice and Bob Watson of Oregon all clear 15-9¾ and finish in that order based on misses.
In the 440 Ulis Williams allows Rex Cawley a couple yards at the halfway point, but runs a strong curve to enter the straight with a three yard lead and holds on for the win, 45.8 to 46.1. Charles Strong of Oklahoma State takes third at 46.7, holding off three others at 46.8.
Oregon State just established a world record in the two mile relay and that talent is on display in the 880 and the mile. Norm Hoffman takes on two of Europe's finest, England's Bill Cornell running for So. Illinois and Irishman Noel Carroll of Villanova. Cornell makes a big push in the first turn of the second lap, but Hoffman stays with him and passes at the end of the straight to power away for a 1:48.0 win. Cornell hangs tough to hold off Carroll at the tape, 1:48.4 for both.
Hoffman's teammate, Morgan Groth takes the mile, but the win is less satisfying. After a 3:07 1320, Loyola's Tom O'Hara, “a frail red-haired boy who won't be 21 until July”, holds off Groth and breaks the tape at 4:04.8. But wait a minute. O'Hara is DQed for cutting for the pole too soon. Maybe he didn't get there first, but Groth is the NCAA champ at 4:05.3. Cordner Nelson displays his feelings. “He did not interfere with anyone. He did not shorten his distance. He lost a championship on a bit of petty officiousness, although technically guilty of a charge which is infinitely small compared with many serious infractions which go unnoticed or unpunished.”
Marks made in field event prelims carry over to the finals. Competitors in the broad jump are aided by strong winds in the Thursday prelims. No one improves in Friday's final. Central State's Clifton Mayfield takes gold at 26-7w, but Bill Miller of McMurray State and Paul Warfield of Ohio State are also over 26 feet at 26-4¾w and 26-2½w. Miller has the best legal jump at 26-2. Phil Shinnick has fouls of 26-6 and 27-0, but can manage only 25-4¼ off the board. Cordner Nelson reports that Shinnick has a scar on his calf from running through a fence while being chased by bulls in Spain. It is unclear whether Phil vacationed in Pamplona or was just out in a field.
Gary Gubner of NYU trails Oregon's Dave Steen by two inches as he steps into the ring for his last throw. His 62-5 is enough to reverse that situation. Steen is second at 61-11¼. The event must have been concluded quickly as only ten are entered and George Woods of So. Illinois simplifies the matter by fouling three times in the prelims.
The javelin throw is contested on consecutive nights on a wet runway. Frank Covelli of Arizona State wins at 257-8½ over Gary Stenlund of Oregon State who throws 253-4. Former national caliber thrower Buster Quist is the object of competitors' ire as an official for calling so many throws flat. Jerry Dyes of Abilene Christian has a groin injury and is never in the medal battle. Neither is one of the pre-meet favorites, Larry Stuart of USC, who “is harassed by an Oregon rooter who must have learned his manners at baseball games”. His 232 leaves him well out of medal contention.
Bet you'd like to know who won the 440 and mile relays, wouldn't you? Nobody, that's who. The NCAA meet is still in the dark ages of 1963. No relays for you, track fans.
A week later, June 21-22, the center of the track and field world has moved a thousand miles east to Saint Louis where the AAU is being held. Significantly, this is the first national championship meet to be held on a composition track. Three hundred and sixty tons of rubber, asphalt and crushed stone are laid on the existing cinder track at Public Schools Stadium in one day using conventional paving equipment. It is rolled down to a thickness of an inch and a half.


Larry Questad, Livingston MT, and Stanford

Bob Hayes likes the new surface. In his semifinal heat, with the wind a legal 2.2 mph, he blows the field away with a 9.1 clocking which will be submitted for world record consideration. He leaves no doubt in the final, catching Johnny Gilbert midrace and winning in 9.1 once again, but this time with an aiding wind of 7.7 mph. Gilbert runs 9.2. Paul Drayton, Willie Williams and Larry Questad finish in that order in 9.3. Hayes says, “I like this track. I wish they made all tracks like this.”
Hayes' lack of dedication to track is obvious. This is his third day on the track in two weeks, an absence he explains with, “I needed a rest”. As a harbinger of what may come, he says, “I like to run, all right, but I would rather do it carrying a football”.
Middle distance runners seem to have an affinity for the new surface although you couldn't tell from the comments from 880 winner Bill Crothers of Canada, “I didn't like the track. I thought it was too soft.” But when he hears his time, 1:46.8, a mark bettered only by Peter Snell, he responds, “Holy mackerel! It's hard to believe.” Jim Dupree and NCAA mile champ, Morgan Groth, impress with 1:47.3 and 1:47.5. The real surprise however is the fourth place finish of Steve Haas, previously a sprinter of note at Occidental. He has been troubled by cramping in his upper thigh, so after a season of sprinting, he has been moved up to the 880 by coach Jim Bush. The results are outstanding. Before this meet he has run the race only four times. Today he runs 1:47.6, leading the casual observer to believe that he may have some potential at this distance. Dick Drake writes, “This is the making of a world class half miler.” Sounds as if he is already in that select group.
In the mile, facing his usual competition, Jim Grelle, Dyrol Burleson, Tom O'Hara and Cary Weisiger, Jim Beatty alters his tactics and leads for three laps, hitting the bell at three minutes exactly. Grelle has dropped out with a foot problem, but the other four are closely bunched on the final curve. O'Hara is boxed in third when Burleson makes the decisive move. Beatty is obviously beaten before they reach the stretch. O'Hara passes Weisiger and finishes the fastest, but the gap Burleson ran up is too much to overcome. Burleson wins 3:56.7 with O'Hara at 3:56.9, good enough for a collegiate record. Weisiger is third at 3:58.5 with Beatty fourth at 3:59.2.
This is not to say there were not problems. The major “oops moment” came when the track was marked. As savvy followers of the sport know, in a race run in lanes around a curve, the inside lane is four inches wider than the other lanes. This is because the runner in the pole position cannot run as near the curb as the other competitors can to the line separating their lanes from the lane to the inside for fear of stepping on the curb. Well, somewhere in the planning stages this subtlety was lost. Lane one is 42 inches wide, just like all the other lanes. As the measurement is made from lane one, this means that the other runners are running about a foot less in the 220 and two feet less in the 440. There will be no record in those events unless it comes from lane one.
Henry Carr

Two twenty world record applicant Henry Carr is not 100%, but then when you are Henry Carr, 95% will do. With his knee taped because of “loose joints”, the Arizona State sophomore takes a yard lead into the straight only to have Paul Drayton come on strong and catch him at the tape. The photo on the cover of this issue shows the dilemma the judges face. It is impossible to say either won. Meet referee Cap Haralson confers with judges looking at the Bulova phototimer. Three judges give it to Drayton. Four vote for Carr. Haralson has the last say. He calls it a tie. The time is 20.4. Oddly, just the previous week in the NCAA 100, as mentioned earlier in this entry, Carr is involved in another “dead heat”, but that time the tough call was made and Henry was second. Who was the victim of lane one you may be asking? That would be hard luck Earl Young who has the only legitimate time in the race, 20.7.
And now (drum roll here), the race everyone has been waiting for, the 440 match between defending national champion, Ulis Williams, and world record holder Adolph Plummer who soundly trounced him in that world record race last month. This is their first meeting since that memorable day.
Both win their heats. In the final Plummer is in lane six with Williams in seven. Williams leads early, but Plummer catches him at the halfway mark and, like in his world record race, opens up daylight around the curve. At the start of the straight he has two yards. That distance gradually shrinks and it is a question of whether Williams will run out of time before the finish line. Twenty yards out Williams catches Plummer. Cordner Nelson writes, “He (Williams) had six inches on his tall rival five yards from home and the lead increased to a foot and half at the tape”. Williams 45.8, Plummer 45.9.
The times are fast in both hurdles, but there are complaints. Blaine Lindgren says the track is made for Hayes Jones, that it gives too much under a heavy hurdler such as himself. Rex Cawley says the track is too springy and causes an intermediate hurdler to change his stride. Nonetheless fast times are the order of the day; Hayes Jones leads all the way to take the 120HH in 13.4 with Lindgren and Roy Hicks second and third at 13.5.
In the 440H little known Jim Allen of Washington State 13 steps for seven hurdles then switches to 15 steps. He leads Rex Cawley by 2½ yards at the ninth hurdle, but the SC star is not to be denied. He catches Allen five yards from the tape and executes a perfect lean to win 50.4 to 50.5. Cawley and Allen are on the team that will compete in Russia. Willie Atterberry, at 50.6, is not.
Allen is a late maturing athlete. His best high school hurdle times were 16.3 and 20.6. As a junior at WSU he ran 14.6 and 23.7. Last year he was out with a hamstring pull. This year he has discovered the 440 intermediates and has blossomed. At 6-4 and 170 it is possible he will fill out and run even faster.
Ralph Boston is ready to go to Russia if his 26-10 is any measure. Darryl Horn takes second in the broad jump at 26-4.
Consistent Brian Sternberg takes the pole vault at 16-4. John Uelses, Ron Morris and Rolando Cruz all clear 16-0½ with Uelses making the team on fewer misses.
Perry O'Brien is a model of persistence. The veteran is long since past his prime, but don't tell him that. He puts 62-1¼ to lead until Dave Davis throws 62-5¾ on his last attempt. O'B will have another shot in Moscow. That high school kid, Randy Matson, is fourth behind Gary Gubner at 59-1¼.
Gene Johnson and Paul Stuber are the only high jumpers to clear seven feet and finish in that order. Veterans Joe Faust and John Thomas can do no better than 6-11 and 6-10. Of particular interest is Roy Hicks who also clears 6-10. Yes, this is the same Roy Hicks who was third in the hurdles at 13.5. (If memory serves me well, Roy Hicks was the first HS athlete to jump 7'0".  He used the Eastern roll technique, did not straddle. He attended U. of Oklahoma for about 6 weeks, but returned to his native Houston, TX and enrolled at Texas Southern.  He later ran for the US Army when he represented the US as a hurdler. ed.) 

Al Oerter is real good with the discus, but not so good with the disc. That would be the disc in his back which has slipped. For that reason Al is not in attendance today.
Jay Silvester takes the gold at 198-11½, ten feet better than Rink Babka.
Like Oerter, Hal Connolly, who is teaching in Finland, has back problems and doesn't compete. Al Hall professes his disappointment and then wins at 214-11. Second place finisher George Frenn PRs at 198-10. Like Jim Allen, Frenn is a late bloomer. After tiring of finishing last in the 100 in all comers meets 1959, he takes up the hammer. That summer he throws 75 feet. Demonstrating that perseverance pays off, he throws 156-10 in 1960, 166-10 in '61 and then improves to 187-2 last year. Now he is on the team that will compete
against the Soviet Union.

George Frenn

Frenn on the cover of Sports Illustrated
Three days after the AAU meet many of the competitors have gathered for the Toronto International Games. Apparently the track is notable for its long straights and tight turns as this is mentioned twice, but the distance events don't seem to be effected. Julio Marin takes the two mile in 8:46.8 and LATC milers, Jim Beatty and Jim Grelle, make up for disappointing performances at the AAU meet, with Beatty holding off Grelle by a tenth in 3:56.0. Beatty says he thinks he could have bettered the world record by two seconds had there been a pace setter in the middle laps. (3:52.4, really, Jim?) Coach Mihaly Igloi says Grelle should have started his finishing drive earlier because he had too much left.

Buddy Edelen  #1

We have another sorta, kinda world record for you. Former University of Minnesota star Buddy Edelen, who has been teaching in England for the last three years, establishes a world best of 2:14.08 in London's Polytechnic Marathon to eclipse the previous best of 2:15.15 by Japan's Tora Terasaw earlier this year. Here comes the “sorta kinda” part. Three weeks later the Brits get around to measuring the course and it comes up 103 yards short, a distance that the writer, Ross McWhirter, estimates that would take Edelen another 18 seconds. No record for you, Buddy, but nice job just the same. Wait a minute, undoubtedly the name of the writer rings a bell with the more alert among you. Yes, that is the same Ross McWhirter who, along with his twin brother, Norris , established the Guinness Book of World Records.  Three weeks later Englishman Brian Kilby would run 2hr. 14:43 at the Port Talbot  (Wales) Marathon.

The Fourth of July finds us in Eugene for the Oregon AAU meet at Hayward Field, a meet noteworthy more as a harbinger of things to come than for what is produced this day. This said, there are some good marks and close races. Morgan Groth wins the 880 over Jim Dupree 1:50 to 1:51.2. Dyrol Burleson holds off Cary Weisiger in the mile 4:00.3 to 4:01.9. Dave Davis, now a marine at Camp Pendleton, is the easy winner in the shot at 62-1. The broad jump is the story, however, as Darryl Horn, formerly of Oregon State, now representing the US Air Force, beats Ralph Boston 25-1 to 24-6½, Boston's first loss in two years. Phil Shinnick is third at 24-6.
The future is well served as Tracy Smith, who ran at Arcadia HS in Southern California this year, crushes Tom Sullivan's high school record for the steeplechase by 20 seconds when he finishes second in the open race at 9:30.5. He also places second in the prep mile in 4:13.0 for a pretty good double. Oh, the winner of that race at 4:12.9, might have a future as well. He will be a senior at Rogers High in Spokane next year. His name is Gerry Lindgren.

The youngster from Rogers High.

Lindgren would develop.  Here he is seen winning the Pac 8 XC meet in 1969 at Stanford
He and Pre had the same time 28:32.4 for 6 miles.
The decathlon championship is decided in Corvallis, Oregon. Much to the delight of the 1516 fans who braved cold, windy weather, Oregon State's Steve Pauly scores 7852 points to win by over 500. The real drama is the battle for second which earns a spot on the US team in Moscow. With only the 1500 remaining veteran Dave Edstrom leads Dick Emberger (Need to know more about Dick Emberger?  See below)
 by 141 points. Edstrom is a strong 1500 runner, so a place on the team appears likely. Unfortunately for Edstrom, Emberger is a great 1500 runner. When the dust has cleared Edstrom has run 4:32.6, but Emberger has pushed the limits to 4:19.2 and has earned his ticket to Russia by three points.
Tucked away in a corner of page 21 is the story of the tragedy that has befallen Brian Sternberg (covered earlier in this publication). “Brian Sternberg, claimant to the world pole vault record, lies critically injured in a Seattle hospital as the result of a trampoline accident July 2. As of July 5, the last official hospital statement before our July 8 press time, final diagnosis had not been completed. At that time the University of Washington star was paralyzed from the neck down........Brian is reported full of determination to effect a full recovery.”
This issue chronicles the efforts of several athletes who may have stayed at the dance too long. It may be time for them to hang it up before embarrassing themselves with the hopeless effort of trying to make an Olympic team. In the just reported decathlon Bill Toomey is fifth with a mere 6822, over a thousand points behind Pauly. He high jumps 5-5, throws the discus only 114-8 and can only muster 38-11 in the shot. Mike Larrabee has been around forever. His best days are behind him. He will be 30 in December. He makes the 440 final in the AAU meet, but runs last in 47.2, a whopping 2.3 seconds off the world record.


(A good reason for sticking with it.)

And then we have this Billy Mills fellow who has become a punching bag for three and six milers. Indeed in the AAU three mile he is eighth in a field of nine with a 14:46.0 clocking, over a minute behind the winner. Time to call it quits and get on with life, guys.

Billy Mills   Haskell Inst. 1956

(Not quite ready to give it up.)

Former U.S. Olympian and Roanoke College track athlete and swimmer recalls glory days

Richard "Dick" Emberger during his Roanoke College track days.

Forty-eight years after his Olympic debut in the decathlon, Richard "Dick" Emberger '60 still remembers the inspiring words of longtime Roanoke College coach, C. Homer Bast.
"The man who wins is the man who thinks he can," Bast once said to Emberger, a standout cross country and track athlete and swimmer for Roanoke.
But Emberger is no ordinary alumni athlete. Until this year, he was the only Roanoke graduate to compete for the United States in the Olympic Games. On July 29, Shelley Olds, a 2003 Roanoke graduate and a member of the U.S. Olympic Road Cycling Team, will take her place at the starting line at the London Olympics.
Each time Emberger watches the Olympic Games, his excitement rises and his memories return.
"You get to think back on all of the agony and ecstasy," he said via phone from his home in Escondido, Calif.
In 1964, Emberger placed 10th in the decathlon at the summer Olympics in Tokyo. He joined the U.S. Olympic team after winning the decathlon at the Olympic trials in Los Angeles.
The decathlon covers two days and includes 10 single events, from the 100-meter and 1,500-meter races to the long jump, shot put, javelin throw and pole vault.
At Roanoke, Emberger not only shined as a cross country and track athlete, but as a swimmer, holding the College's diving record.  He also set Virginia state records in the high jump and high hurdles for both indoor and outdoor track. Emberger was inducted into Roanoke's Hall of Fame in 1971.
Still, Bast seemed to foreshadow Emberger's future track success. Though the decathlon was not an event during Emberger's Roanoke track days, Bast told the athlete that he could one day do well in this 10-event competition.
"We had talked about making the [Olympic] team," Emberger said. "That's something I think every athlete dreams about."
Emberger became a captain in the Marine Corps after graduation and eventually, he fought in the Vietnam War. He competed in his first decathlon at Mt. San Antonio College in California at the Mt. SAC Relays.
Emberger's decathlon skills improved as he competed in various military track meets while he was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California.
He scored 7,292 points and won the 1,500 meters in 4 minutes, 19.3 seconds during his Olympic debut in Tokyo. But he said it was not his best decathlon performance. It was rainy and cloudy on race day.
Even so, the Olympics was "the opportunity to pit yourself against the best athletes in the world," said Emberger, who raced on a clay track. "Sometimes you do well. Sometimes you don't."
He tried for a second shot at the Olympics in 1968, but he did not advance beyond the decathlon trials.
Nowadays, Emberger, who is 74, enjoys a slower sport -- golf. He taught high school English and physical education for 30 years in California, while also coaching high school track, swimming and water polo.
He is retired, but he works as a substitute teacher, because "I enjoy the kids," he said.
Emberger is married to Rosemary Lotuso (both are pictured to the left), whom he met at Roanoke, and the couple has two children and five grandchildren.
Emberger still keeps in touch with Bast, who lives in Salem and was a professor, coach and administrator at Roanoke for 33 years.
"I call him every month or so," Emberger said.
Released: July 19, 2012
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Two post publishing corrections were made on this page.  The first is that Buddy Edelen broke the previous marathon best of 2hr15 min 15 sec.  not 2hr 25 min 15 sec.   And the second correction is in the picture of Gerry Lindgren and Steve Prefontaine.  This picture was taken at the Pac 8 meet , not the NCAA meet.    Thanks to Rick Lower for catching those errors. ed. 

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