Saturday, August 17, 2013

Vol. 3 No. 47 March, 1964

MARCH 1964
With the nationals behind us we are moving on to the outdoor season, right? Actually, no. There are still indoor meets, lots of them.
On Thursday, Feb. 27 the New York Knights of Columbus meet is held in the Garden and a crowd of 12,602 is there to see Bill Crothers improve his status as co-favorite with Peter Snell in the October Olympic Games 800. The Canadian pharmacist drops down from his usual 1000 yards to 600 and moves to second on the yearly list with a 1:09.7 clocking. The K of C meet loves mile relays; there are four of them. Crothers returns to run in one and brings his East York Track Club from last place to victory by two yards over the New York Pioneer Club with a 47.2 anchor leg.
Indoor word record holder Tom O'Hara hadn't planned on running fast this evening, but the crowd's enthusiasm propels him to a 3:58.5 clocking, the second fastest mile ever run indoors. Although running his PR, Ergas Leps' 4:03.6 leaves him 40 yards in arrears.
Ron Clarke's American tour has been marked by ups and downs. Tonight he suffers his third loss in six races when Bruce Kidd's kick gives him an 8:39.0 to 8:39.2 two mile win. Ron Laris PRs in third at 8:45.6.
Question: How do you win the triple jump on your last attempt without bettering the mark of your opponent? Ira Davis and Chris Mousiades are tied at 50-10 going into the final round. Using the tie breaking rule in which the second best mark determines the winner, Mousiades leads with 50-4½ second best jump before Davis hits 50-8 in the sixth round to snatch the victory.
If you want to see a meet on Feb. 29 you have your choice of four, the All-Eastern Games in Baltimore, the Heptagonal Indoor Championships in Ithica, NY, the Eastern NCAA Regionals in Louisville and the Western NCAA Regionals in Portland.
Wendell Mottley is having a heck of an indoor season. Already he has bettered world records at 440 and 500 yards. Tonight in the Heptagonal Games he is trying to add the 600 to his record collection. The odds are stacked against him. Let us count the ways: the race will be run on a flat track; he will not be allowed to wear spikes; the competition is mediocre and he just ran a trial heat an hour and a half ago. Not to worry, Wendell is up to the task. He cruises through 24.1 and 49.7 splits and now has one lap to run. As we recall from last month's issue, this is where he ran into trouble at the Millrose Games. He split 48.3 in that race, but apparently learned from the experience. This time his pace has left considerable in the tank. He finishes strongly to take George Kerr's WR down a tenth with a 1:09.2 clocking. But wait, the Yale captain is back 90 minutes later to bring the Eli's from 20 yards down in the mile relay to victory with a 46.7 split. If you think Wendell was voted the outstanding athlete of the meet award, you would be right.
The All-Eastern Games is the site of what Hayes Jones says will be his last ever indoor race. He makes his 55th consecutive indoor win a memorable one as he blazes to a 6.8 clocking thereby lowering his 60 yard WR by a tenth. Now on to the outdoor season and the Olympics for the former Eastern Michigan star.
John Thomas also has a pretty good night. He jumps 7-2¾ for the best jump in the world this year and his best mark since 1961.
The Eastern NCAA meet, held in Louisville's Freedom Hall, is the first one ever and it shows. Only 22 schools and 135 athletes are entered. Worse yet, the spectators number only 1200. That doesn't stop the lads from Maryland State from having a good time. They win the meet with 18 points to runner up Penn State's 13. But, wait, it gets better. Two of their mile relay runners have already run the 600, so we can only assume that this is not a flat out world record attempt, but a WR is what they get. The team of Brown (48.5), Morris (47.8), Skinner (48.1) and Rogers (47.3) runs 3:11.7 for the record. Pretty sure this is a 220 yard track.
Portland is the site of the Western NCAA meet. Four thousand and four fans are buoyed by the return of Harry Jerome. After being out of action since suffering a severely torn thigh muscle in 1962, the University of Oregon star demonstrates his readiness to compete at the highest level with a 6.0 60 yard clocking, just a tenth off Bob Hayes' record. Oregon State's Jan Underwood and USC's Bruce Bess tangle at 1000 yards. After a slow 61 second quarter the pace picks up. Underwood follows Bess until the last straight where he blows by to win by six yards in the fastest time of the season, 2:08.5.
Now it is Friday night, March 6 and we are at the Chicago Daily News Relays where there are 18,307 spectators, the largest crowd of the season, most of whom have come to see a local boy break a record. That boy would be a 5'9”, 130 pound redhead who is a student at Loyola of Chicago, Tom O'Hara. He set the world record in the indoor mile, 3:56.6, just 23 days ago and there is no doubt that tonight will see a serious attempt to lower that record.
His determination to take it out hard is evident as he jumps the gun. The crowd and especially the starter have to be praying for a legal start the second time. A collective sigh of relief fills the stadium as the field is away cleanly. O'Hara leads around the first turn before the rabbit, Jim Irons, takes over and leads through 58.1 and 1:58.8. Irons drops away and now O'Hara must hold pace without help. Jim Grelle is right with him so there is no temptation to dawdle. The crowd is with him. When the ¾ mark is reached in 2:59.8, pandemonium reigns. O'Hara has a fierce kick, but Grelle is no slouch. The ex-Oregon star stays close until the final 160 yard lap where O'Hara goes to the afterburners that Grelle – or maybe no one – has. Now it is the local hero against the clock. It is as if the crowd can will him to break the tape in record time. To the relief and joy of all assembled, that is exactly what happens. His 3:56.4 shaves two tenths from his previous mark.
In what has to be one of the most egregious faux pas in recent track history, no other runner receives a time though Grelle's coach, Mihaly Igloi, clocks him in 3:58.9. But wait, it gets worse. O'Hara went through 1500 meters in an unofficial 3:41.6, bettering the world record, but the officials don't have the forethought to time him at that distance. The lack of place timing is not confined to the mile. Only the winner of each event is timed. Second place makes one the first loser and, as such, apparently unworthy of a guy in a tuxedo wasting his time clicking his watch.
Miami's Bob Schul was outkicked by Bruce Kidd in a two mile last month, but today the tables have turned and Schul has the upper hand. He holds off the Canadian phenom, winning by “a slight margin” in 8:48.2 to......well, we will never know.
That isn't to say that Canadian runners go home with no gold medals. Bill Crothers benefits from a rabbit in the 1000 and replaces Jan Underwood as the holder of the season's best mark, 2:07.6. He now holds three of the four fastest times ever run at this distance. “K.C.” Yang, as he is repeatedly called by the announcer, wins the pole vault at 16 feet. This is probably the same guy we know as C.K. Yang.
The second annual United States Track and Field Federation meet is held in conjunction with the 13th annual Milwaukee Journal Games, oddly on a Monday night. John Camien runs an indoor PR with his 4:02.8 mile for the top mark. The best race is the 1000 where Missouri's Robin Lingle leaves Villanova's Tom Sullivan and Oregon State's Jan Underwood well behind, 2:09.1 to 2:10.5 for both. In addition, we have our first George Wood sighting. The So. Illinois strongman puts the shot 60-2 to win by a foot and a half.
The lights of the indoor season are dimming as the Cleveland Knights of Columbus meet on March 14 wraps up the season. An overflow crowd of 10.891 watches John Uelses clear 16-4½ for an American indoor pole vault record. Unfortunately, two of the top attractions are not able to compete. John Thomas has a sprained ankle and Tom O'Hara has aggravated a groin strain. In O'Hara's absence, Jim Grelle breaks O'Hara's meet record with a 4:02.3 mile, excellent considering that it is run on a 12 lap to the mile track. In a season marred by poor officiating, it seems only fitting that Bob Schul is timed in 9:11.3 in winning the two mile. It seems that the guys in the tuxedos had trouble counting and that the Miami star has run 25 laps. What to do? One timer believes that Schul had completed 24 laps at 8:51.2. Seems as good a time as any, so be it. Nearly fifty years later that 8:51.2 is etched in stone.
Running through the rest of the issue in no particular order we find that Willie Crawford of LA Dorsey High has already jumped 24-11. Seems the young man also plays baseball pretty well. Wonder what sport he will choose........The Australian 440 relay team broke Oregon's 40.0 world record with a 39.9 March 15. Wait a minute, the alert among you may be saying, Texas (39.6) Abilene Christian (39.7) and San Jose State (39.7) have run faster than that. Yes, but those were one turn races. The Aussies went all the way around the track.......John Rambo jumped 7-0 last year and has a strong shot at making the Olympic team this year, but basketball has been taking up some of his time. On February 27 the Long Beach State star scores 27 points. The next day he jumps 6-9¾ in the Long Beach Relays, but still has enough left to score 42 points in that evening's game........Why middle distance runners should not be tough guys: wonderfully named Abilene Christian half miler Charlie Christmas is out of action with a broken jaw after a “dormitory argument”........Mal Whitfield has suggested that Negro athletes should boycott the Tokyo Olympics unless they get “first class treatment at home”. In an article in Ebony magazine, the former Olympic champion writes, “It's time for American Negro athletes to join the civil rights fight”.......Occidental discus thrower Bill Neville has thrown 194 feet. His improvement may be the result of a weight gain from 208 to 265 in the last year. He now benches 470. In 1964 no one in track had heard of steroids. He is just a growing boy.......Is there a correlation between representing your country in the Olympics and death? Sure seems to be. In this issue we learn that John Brennan who placed fifth in the 1908 broad jump has died in a Milwaukee nursing home. Patrick Ryan, the gold medalist in the 1920 games hammer, has passed at 81 and Stacy Linden, second in the 1906 1500, has succumbed to a heart attack. Strange, but true...............It is rumored that Jim Grelle is considering the steeplechase for October's Olympics........Speaking of the Olympics, save a spot on the '84 team for Charles Wray, the son of former Oxy star, Larry Wray. The lad has just set an age group record that may not be challenged in his lifetime. Young Charles ran a 440 in 4:18.0 two days before his second birthday. For those of you doing the math at home, yes, the kid was one. Dad says that little Charlie ran the entire distance in the third lane and therefore covered 452 yards. He kept going 20 yards beyond the finish before he could be corralled.
Just peeked at the next issue. Good stuff. Two world records and the comeback of an Olympic champion after a four year layoff. Be watching for the next installment.

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