Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Vol. 4 No. 5 June 1964 AAU Meet at Rutgers University

1964 AAU
     June 27 and 28 find us at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey for the AAU National Championships. Ah, but this is more than just another AAU championship. The top six finishers will join the six from the NCAA meet in the first Olympic qualifying meet next week to determine the first spot in each event. The added bonus is that the first two finishers will represent the US in next month's dual meet with the Soviet Union.
     The university has ponied up $75,000 to import “En-Tout-Cas” (a crushed brick surface imported from England used for clay tennis courts) cinders but the track is only three weeks old and not firmly packed. (An American tourist once asked an English gardener how he got the lawns to be so smooth, at Oxford,  and could she get someone over to put her lawn in such nice shape.  His answer:  "Simple, Madam, you just have to roll it 600 years." ed.

Another significant problem that one would think could be solved or at least negotiated previous to the agreement to hold the meet here is that the track has six 48 inch lanes, meaning that only two can qualify from the heats and semis in the 200, 400 and intermediates. (Eight lanes are available on one straight for the 100 and 110 hurdles.) Undoubtedly many of our alert readers have already hit upon the solution: have eight 36 inch lanes for the 200 and 400. Nope, that proposal has been made and has been turned down by AAU officials.  (Thus a raison d'etre for the AAU officials has been created.) 
     This meet will see an innovation in timing that will require putting on your thinking caps. The winner of the shorter races will be hand-timed, but the non-winning times will be determined by adding the difference between the winner's time on the Bulova watch and the placers to the hand time given the winner. Got that? Anyone who needs further explanation please raise your hand. Nobody? Okay, we'll move on. Whether this procedure is the reason or not, this will be the first AAU Championship in which all finishers will receive a time.
      Dick Drake, writing the report of the meet, says that generally the athletes are being treated well. Transportation and recreational facilities are adequate and lodging downright cheap at a dollar a night. On the other hand, the meals, although plentiful, are expensive at $4.75 ($36 in today's money).  (Does anybody know what the per diem is for athletes compared to  per diem for officials?)ed.
      The  New York Yankees apparently are not affected by the competition 46 miles away. They draw 45,000 for their games with the Detroit Tigers while only 24,000 attend the two days of the meet.  Of the 24,000 spectators, I wonder how many are friends and family members of the athletes and how many are just track fans.
     But enough of this. Now on to the report of the action which sees one national record and seven meet records.
Charlie Greene
     Bob Hayes wins the 100 meters. While this is no surprise, there is some drama. Nebraska freshman Charlie Greene, by way of Pine Bluff, Arkansas is lightning out of the blocks.  He leads early, but Hayes catches him and pulls away....sort of. At 90 meters he pulls a thigh muscle but manages to hit the tape first in 10.3, the same time as Greene. It is not known how serious the injury is. Fortunately he has already qualified for the 200 in the NCAA meet so he can spectate that race.  Can somebody explain how they will apply the timing rule to second place in this race? See paragraph 3 above.
Hayes explaining the AAU timing rule to a Russian
Larry Questad
     How do the sprinters like the new track? Larry Questad's response must have AAU and Rutgers officials grinding their teeth. “This is the slowest track I have ever run on. It is soft, crumbly and too spongy. Usually a track gives you something back, but not this one.” 
     Paul Drayton leads the field as they come off the curve in the 200, but here comes Henry Carr. He takes the lead, but just barely, as Drayton hangs tough. In last year's AAU meet they dead heated. This year again they have the same time, but Carr gets the win in 20.6.
     The 400 is loaded and the heats are brutal. Only two qualify from each of three semifinals. BYU's Bob Tobler, a Mormon, is not competing because the finals are on Sunday. Veteran Mike Larabee wins the first semi in 46.0. Ulis Williams and Earl Young are clocked in 46.4, but only Ulis is invited back tomorrow. Britain's hope for Olympic gold, Robbie Brightwell, wins the second semi in 46.1. Theron Lewis' 46.2 is good enough to warrant returning for the final. In the third heat Adolph Plummer and Ollan Cassell run 46.2 and 46.3 and will be in the blocks tomorrow.

     The final sees Plummer and Brightwell out early and leading at the halfway mark. On the curve Cassell makes his move and leads into the straight.
Ollan Cassell
  He doesn't hold it long, as Larrabee powers by to open up a three yard advantage. But maybe Mike has moved too early, for Brightwell is closing ground. They cross the line together in 46.0, but Larrabee gets the win.
Robbie Brightwell and Ann Packer,
the future Mrs. Brightwell
   Cassell and Plummer both run 46.3 but it is Cassell who will run the 400 against the Russians. Williams, who is coming off an injury, takes fifth in 46.5. Lewis is sixth in 46.7
Mike Larabee

     This is the 30 year old Larrabee's eighth AAU meet, but his first victory. Indeed, this is the first time he has been better than fourth. His performance today provokes a great sigh of relief from an unnamed young man in Southern California. Larrabee is a teacher, the sort of feel good guy kids love. Two months ago this student, in a moment of horseplay, gave his teacher a judo chop in the stomach that ruptured his pancreas. Mike has been in pain since. He almost didn't compete today because of the inflammation. Somewhere there is an eighth grader saying, “Thank you, Jesus”.
     There are only 17 entrants in the 800, eliminating the need for semifinals. The top three in the heats move to the final. The third heat provides a bonus qualifier. Morgan Groth takes a nasty fall 20 yards into the race. He rights himself and, with adrenaline ruling the day, catches the pack and, indeed, takes the lead at the end of the first lap. His boyish enthusiasm leaves him spent and he drops out. But wait, in a case like this when a competitor falls early, the race is to be recalled. Since that didn't happen, Groth is advanced to the finals.

     On Sunday Groth, John Dunkelberg, Norm Hoffman, Jerry Siebert, Robin Lingle, Lee Martin, Ted Nelson, Fran Smith, Darnell Mitchell and Jim Dupree toe the starting line.
Ted Nelson
  Nelson takes the lead on the first curve, but this is Siebert's race and he is taking no chances at getting caught in the pack. He and Mitchell move into the lead on the backstretch and Siebert is in command at the 400 in 53.9. Despite taking precautions, Siebert gets hemmed in shortly thereafter as Groth and Lingle move past and trap him inside. Not to worry, Jerry is a veteran. He doesn't panic. He waits for his moment. That moment comes just before the final curve when he and Mitchell go by Groth. Surprisingly, Smith follows closely. Down the straight Siebert is in control.
Jerry Siebert
  He takes the win by a tenth over Mitchell in 1:47.5 with Smith third in 1:47.9. Groth and Nelson are fourth and fifth in 1:48.6 and 1:48.8.
     Siebert's win is no surprise, but the performance of Mitchell and Smith is. Both are scholastically ineligible, Mitchell at Ohio University, Smith at Cornell. Mitchell says he has run only one outdoor race this year. Obviously it was good enough to meet the qualifying standard of 1:50.1. Smith's finish is a surprise bordering on shock. He didn't make the standard until last Wednesday when he PRed in 1:49.8. In four days he has lowered his best by nearly two seconds. Obviously both of them will be strong contenders next week.
     All the big boys are here for the 1500 but only six will nail down a spot in next week's meet. Dyrol Burleson is the favorite. Tom O'Hara has run fast this year but his work is cut out for him as he hasn't beaten Burleson in six attempts. Still, he has backed off his training and is going into this meet relatively fresh. He likes his chances. “I've waited a long time for this. If I thought Burleson had my number, I'd quit running.”
     The heats have no surprises. All those who are supposed to make the final, do so easily. In fact Burleson and Jim Ryun cover the last 180 yards of the first heat running side by side chatting. With three qualifying from each of three heats, other finalists are Ben Tucker, Jim Grelle, John Camien, reigning AAU champion Cary Weisiger and the English duo of John Boulter and Peter Keeling. Camien and Tucker have already qualified for next week's Olympic team qualifying meet so they are not feeling the pressure the others are.

     The Brits are good sports, taking over pace setting duties right away. Keeling leads at the 220 with Boulter assuming command at 440 in 58.1. Weisiger takes over on the second lap and leads at the half in 1:59.5. O'Hara follows closely in second then come Boulter, Burleson, Grelle, Camien,Tucker, Ryun and Keeling all tightly bunched. 
John Camien
     With 500 meters remaining, O'Hara makes his move, taking over first. Burleson responds, moving to second. At the gun it is O'Hara and Burleson followed by Camien, Weisiger, Ryun and Grelle. In past meetings O'Hara hasn't been able to catch Burleson, so this time his plan is to have the lead and take his chances holding off the Oregonian. O'Hara is an extremely strong finisher, but Burleson has run a sub 54 final lap. Strategy only goes so far against that kind of finishing speed. O'Hara has achieved his goal of having the inside lane at the gun. Now we'll see how well this works.
     Just before the final turn Ryun makes a move into third. Grelle follows as both pass Camien. The crowd is on its feet as the field hits the straight. Here comes Burleson, right? Wrong. O'Hara is not just holding the lead, he is lengthening it. Inches turn to feet and then yards. Tom O'Hara is pulling away. The margin grows until the tape is hit in 3:38.1, a time bettered by only Herb Elliot in the 1960 Olympics and Michel Jazy last year. It is a new American record replacing Cary Weisiger' 3:39.9. Although well beaten, Burleson holds off Grelle and Ryun as all three PR in 3:38.8, 3:38.9 and 3:39.0.

Tom O'Hara
     A jubilant O'Hara says, “Getting the inside lane for the gun lap was the big thing. This would force Burleson to run outside and make him cover more ground. It worked just that way.”
     Though Burleson is gracious, saying, “I lost to a better man today”, he disputes O'Hara's strategy. “Running in the second lane meant only about an extra six inches. I knew I wasn't going to catch him when we were about 30 yards from the finish tape.”
     This race was the fastest mass 1500 meter race in history, surpassing the 1960 Olympic final. Finishers in third through eighth recorded the fastest place times for those positions. In addition to those mentioned, Boulter was sixth in a British record of 3:40.4, Tucker seventh in 3:40.8 and Weisiger eighth in 3:40.9.
It also dramatically changes the all-time world list. O'Hara is now in a tie for third with Stanislaw Jungwirth who set the world record in 1955. Burleson is tied for eighth best. Grelle is 11th, Ryun 12th, Camien 18th and Boulter 23rd.
     Those who chose to go to the meet instead of Yankee Stadium may have missed Tom Tresh
driving in five runs in an 8-6 Yankee win, but they saw a pretty damn good race.
     It is 81 degrees as the 5000 field lines up. The favorite is US record holder Bob Schul. With him are Bill Dellinger, Tom Rodda, Jim Beatty, Oscar Moore, Ron Larrieu, Julio Marin, Gene Gurule and that pesky high school kid, Gerry Lindgren.
     Lindgren takes the lead right away and everyone is happy to cede that responsibility. Two miles pass in 9:04. As the field completes ten laps, it is Lindgren, Beatty, Schul, Dellinger and Rodda. Larrieu and Marin have dropped out. Things sort themselves out neatly on the backstretch of the final lap. With 250 to go Schul engages the gear that no one else has. He leads at three miles (13:32.6) and stretches the margin all the way to the tape. His last lap is 55.1 en route to a final time of 13:56.2.
Schul, Lindgren, Dellinger
     Lindgren may be a high school kid, but he sure doesn't act like one. Has he done the grunt work, leading the entire race, only to succumb to the finishing kick of the veterans? No he has not. Jerry still has some scoot left. Schul may be pulling away from him, but Lindgren is pulling away from whomever is behind him. His last lap is 57.5. His time is 13:58.6. Second place and a spot on the team that will face the Russians is his. The third placer is Beatty who loses ground all the way, finishing in 14:06.0. Dellinger is fourth in 14:10.2. Rodda runs 14:12.4.
     Little description of the 10,000 is given, but the heat takes its toll. Twenty-six stout hearted warriors enter the fray but only eleven finish. About halfway through Pete McArdle opens a gap that he stretches to the tape, finishing in 30:11.0. Second, and the spot on the team for the Russian meet, goes to John Gutknecht in 30:44.6, three seconds ahead of Oscar Moore.

Vic Zwolak

     The steeplechase has everyone of note except the national leader, Vic Zwolak, who ran 8:42 in last week's NCAA meet. As strong as the field is, by the fifth lap it has become a two man race. George Young leads with Jeff Fishback
Jeff Fishback
in close pursuit. Fishback makes his move on the final water jump 180 yards from the finish and suddenly it is over as Young has nothing left. Fishback wins in 8:43.6. Young's 8:49.4 gives him a seven second margin over Fred Best. It will be Fishback and Young against the Russians.
     Remember the line about how this is the first AAU meet in which every finisher will get a time? Well, it hasn't worked out that way as Keith Forman in llth and last place gets an NT.
     The 110 high hurdles have heats, semis and the final on the same day. All the big names survive the heats but the semis eliminate two 13.4 men, 1960 Olympic silver medalist Willie May and Roy Hicks. After suffering two recent defeats to Blaine Lindgren, Hayes Jones scores a mild upset by winning in 13.8 with Lindgren a tick back. The slow times are attributed to the track which the hurdlers like even less than the sprinters do. This is Jones' fifth AAU title and provides a great trivia question for Friday's track geezer meeting at the Dew Drop Inn. Who is the only American to compete in the first six US – USSR meets? That would be Hayes Jones.
     The heats of the 400 intermediates eliminate Olympic silver medalist Cliff Cushman as well as Don Styron. The semis and final are run on the same day. In the first semi Billy Hardin bests Willie Atterberry 50.7 to 50.9 with Chris Stauffer also making the final. Rex Cawley's 50.9 takes the second semi with Tom Wyatt and Jay Luck being invited back for the final.
Rex Cawley
     Hardin always goes out fast and the final is no exception. Luck finishes strongly but comes up short at the finish as these two run 50.1 and 50.2, qualifying them for the Russian meet. Veterans Atterberry and Cawley clock 50.3 and 50.6 and have to wait for another day.  

Billy Hardin recounts some of his career on youtube.com
     Three high jumpers separate themselves from the field. Ed Caruthers, John Rambo and John Thomas all clear 7-1 and finish in that order based on fewer misses.
      At this point we must take an editorial aside. Before anything is posted, the linguistically limited product of our reporter, a C student at best, is presented to our master proofreader, Steve Price, former coach of the Kettering Striders, Bowling Green State U. and now Findlay U. Steve turns this lump of coal into the polished diamond you are currently reading. Would that Track and Field News have had access to Steve's skills in 1964. If it had, John Rambo would not have been listed as both the second and third place finisher and John Thomas unmentioned in the results. The error-free reports to which you are accustomed are the reason we pay Steve the big bucks. (Also, if you find a mistake, it's Steve's fault.)
John Thomas
      The pole vaulters must have wished they had packed a lunch. The competition began at 1:00 and didn't end until 8:53. All fifteen US vaulters who have cleared sixteen feet are here. Also in attendance are another eleven who have met the qualifying standard of 15-3½. At 16-0 the field is parred to eight with 16-9 vaulter Don Meyers being the chief casualty. Floyd Manning, John Pennel, Gerald Pratt, Fred Hansen, Dave Tork and Ron Morris are left after 16-4½. For Manning and Pratt this is a PR.
Fred Hansen
     Sixteen feet eight inches decides who will compete against the Russians. Tork and Hansen are over. With the bar at 17-0, Tork misses three times, but world record holder Hansen clears on his second try. He wants the bar set at 17-6 ¾ . This is easier said than done. The lift truck used to check height has broken down. Another truck used for the judges at the finish line lacks a driver. (How this creates a lasting problem is not explained.) Finally, after a 34 minute wait, the bar is in place and Hansen takes his shot, narrowly missing on his first jump. Two more misses and the event comes to a merciful end.
      Ralph Boston's first effort in the broad jump produces the 26-7½ winner. Charley Mays of the wondrously named Grand Street Boys Club has five jumps over 25' and a best of 26-2 to take second and earns a spot on his first international team. Darrell Horn barely misses making the team at 26-1¼.
The javelin presents a recipe for disaster with 28 entrants and insufficient room for a proper approach. The throwers start with their backs against the wall that encircles the track, run across six lanes of track and jump the curb before reaching the throwing apron.
     Adding to the confusion, at the end of the trials it is discovered that all the throws have been measured ten feet short. No explanation is given, but at least everyone is shorted equally. Frank Covelli pops a 253-7 for the win. Jan Sikorsky takes second at 248-1.
     Hal Connolly set his 231-10 world record in the hammer throw two years ago in the dual meet with Russia. He would very much like the opportunity to compete against them this year. That goal is realized when he throws 226-5½ to win. A foul of 229-5 bodes well for the future. Ed Burke surprises with his a PR of 215-10½ and his best series to take second from perennial runner up Al Hall who can do no better than 208-5.
      The road to the AAU discus title goes through Al Oerter. It is a path no one travels this day. Big Al wears a neck brace made from two towels and a belt to keep him from throwing his head too far back and pinching a nerve in his left arm. No matter. Oerter throws 201-1½ on his first attempt and no one gets close. Jay Silvester is second at 193-9.

Dallas Long
     This year has seen the emergence on the national scene of high school distance stars Jim Ryun and Gerry Lindgren. But as good as they are, their performances don't compare with that of their 19 year old contemporary, Texas A&M freshman shot putter Randy Matson. His potential is unlimited. When Dallas Long retires, the crown will belong to Matson. He is the future of shot putting.

But, wait a minute, perhaps he is the present of shot putting, for today he thoroughly thumps world record holder Dallas Long to claim his first national championship. For Long, his 63-4¾ is a disappointing effort, but even if Long had thrown a foot and a half further, he would have lost to the youngster's 64-11 PR. Now consider this. 
Randy Matson
Randy Matson has been putting the 16 pound shot for only one year. Maybe the word “potential” no longer applies.
     At the other end of the spectrum is Perry O'Brien. In his storied career he has won 17 AAU shot put championships (including indoor). Today he is no match for the young blood and finishes third at 61-11.
     But this is not the only significant meet this weekend. On the other side of the country at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California the AAU decathlon championship and two of the three spots on the US Olympic team are decided.
Ten of the fifteen competitors achieve personal bests. C.K. Yang, the world record holder from Nationalist China, wins as expected. His 8641 points place him firmly atop the world list.

J.D. Martin

      The two places on the US team go to Paul Herman (7794) and Don Jeisy (7768). Just missing are Santa Clara Valley Youth Village teammates Russ Hodge (7729) and Bill Toomey (7620). They, along with

Dick Emberger
Dick Emberger (7502) and J.D. Martin (7343), will have a chance to claim the third spot on the US team at the final Olympic Trials September 12-13J.D. "Goose" Martin will not go to the trials, as his alma mater, the U. of Oklahoma will offer him the head coaching job, one that he cannot refuse.  He will stay there for 37 or more years.  ed.

           While Dave Thoreson is eliminated, he is heartened by clearing 6-9½ for an all time decathlon best. Toomey's 47.5 400 puts him in that elite club as well.
Bill Toomey

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