Sunday, May 25, 2014

Vol. 4 No. 41 The Second and Final Olympic Trial, 1964

Return with us now to those golden days of yesteryear, specifically September 1964 and the Final Olympic Trials in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Ralph Boston
But first there are two significant meets to report. The Carreras Invitational in Kingston, Jamaica on August 13 and 15 sees a world record tied in the broad jump and the American record set in the 880.
Ralph Boston takes advantage of the warm Jamaican weather to leap 27-3¼ and claim a share of Igor Ter-Ovanesyan's world record. No one is shocked. Ralph is the reigning Olympic champion.

Morgan Groth
The American record in the half mile is a pleasant surprise. Oregon State star Morgan Groth puts himself squarely in the Olympic medal picture with a stunning 1:46.4 victory over veteran George Kerr who finishes a tenth of a second behind. Only Peter Snell has run faster. Groth's record comes only two days after he has won the mile in 4:00.4 over Ergas Leps' 4:01.1 Canadian record and the 4:01.5 of Gerry Lindgren. Lindgren returns on the second day to set a world junior record of 13:17.0 in the three mile.

Bob Schul
Another WR comes in a low key meet, but the mark is no less significant. On the evening of August 29 in an all-comers meet at Pierce Junior College near Los Angeles, Bob Schul takes a shot at Jim Beatty's 2 mile WR of 8:29.6. Bob and his wife have been living with buddy George Young and his wife in an apartment rented temporarily from the Reverend Bob Richards. Schul and Young not only live together, they are training partners. It is no surprise that Young agrees to pace Schul for as far as he can.
The two mile is scheduled late in the meet. Schul sees this as a problem. He ran a mile here two weeks earlier and remembers how the track tends to be dug up with divots in the inside lane as the meet goes on. Schul and Young tell meet director Pete Peterson of their plan and ask if the race can be moved to earlier in the program. Their wish is granted. The race will be the second of the evening.
A crowd of 300 is surprised to hear Peterson announce, “and in lane two, Bob Schul, who is going to break the world record for two miles tonight.” No pressure there. There are 14 runners including old rival, Billy Mills.
Young takes the field out in 61. On the second lap Norm Higgins takes over and leads through the half in 2:05. Mills, willing to do his part, leads most of the third lap, but when Young feels the pace slowing, he takes over on the home stretch and leads at the 1320 in 3:10.
Now it is on Young to hold a record pace as long as he can. The tempo quickens and the mile goes by in 4:14. The two have broken away. The pace continues to pick up. Five laps in 5:17. On the sixth lap, Young is tightening. At the end of the lap Young moves out to the second lane and it is time for Schul to do it on his own. As he takes the lead the timer shouts “6:22”.
Schul is the king of the kick but off this pace he can't rely on a sub 60 finish. He must hold the pace on the penultimate lap and he does. He starts a long final drive with 550 remaining. The gun lap is reached in 7:25, the only question is by how much the record will be broken. Athletes line the infield, cheering him on. The magic kick isn't there, but it doesn't have to be. The price has already been paid. He hits the tape in 8:26.4, 3.2 seconds faster than any man has run. Billy Mills is 150 yards back, finishing second in 8:45.6. If there was any doubt who the favorite would be in the Tokyo 5000, it is settled this evening.
Bob Schul setting the WR 2 Milwa
And now to the Final Olympic Trials in Los Angeles on September 12-13. If you remember, the winner of each event at the first trials in New York in July is on the team.....sort of. He must prove his fitness in this meet or be removed from the team. He doesn't have to win, just prove he is still in shape and free of injury. Perform well and you keep your place even if you are fourth or fifth. Mess up and your ticket to Tokyo is canceled.
The real competition here is for the second and third spot in each event. If you didn't win in New York, the pressure is on. For most this meet determines their year and possibly their career. Fifty years from now they will be telling their grandchildren they were on the Olympic team or that they came this close to making it.

100 Meters
Bob Hayes (w/permission of Finobbar Callanan)

The big question Saturday is whether Bob Hayes has recovered from the injury that kept him out of the first meet. He pulled a muscle in the AAU meet and has basically laid off for two months before resuming training two weeks ago. Also in question is the health of Nebraska freshman Charlie Greene who was leading the first qualifying race until he pulled a hamstring. These questions are answered in just over ten seconds. Bob's health is fine, thank you. He ties the WR of 10.1, leaving New York winner Trenton Jackson a yard back. Charlie doesn't fair so well. He finishes in 10.4, behind Mel Pender at 10.3 and Gerry Ashworth and Darrell Newman each at 10.4. Our team for Tokyo is Hayes, Jackson and Pender. Ashworth will join them on the relay team. Newman and Greene will watch on television.
Charlie Greene will have to wait 4 more years

Broad Jump

A month ago Ralph Boston tied Igor Ter-Ovanesyan's world record in the broad jump. This Saturday he opens with a wind-aided 27-10¼ and follows with a legal 26-11¼. On his third attempt he erases the great Russian's name from the record books with a leap of 27-4¼.
Gayle Hopkins
As wonderful as a WR is, it matters little in determining who is on the plane for Tokyo. The other two places are fiercely contested. Darrell Horn, who looked so good at the semi-final meet, was injured two weeks ago. He manages 25-11¼, but that's not good enough. Phil Shinnick moves to second at 26-2 only to be passed by Gayle Hopkins' 26-4¾. Shinnick then jumps 26-3½, an important inch and a half improvement because, on his last attempt, Charley Mays goes 26-2¾. So close, yet so far.

10,000 Meters
There was no 10,000 in the New York meet so everything is on the line today. The field is John Macy, John Gutknecht, Billy Mills, Oscar Moore, Gerry Lindgren, Doug Brown, Ron Larrieu, Gene Gurule and Pete McArdle. The miles go by in 4:379:18 and 14:04. McArdle, feeling the effects of qualifying in the marathon, drops back. Gurule, 110 yards back, retires from the field.
Four miles go by in 18:48. At this point Lindgren and Mills force the pace with a 65 second lap and the field loosens. Gutknecht and Macy drop away. Moore, entered in tomorrow's 5000, drops out.
Billy Mills
Soon to become a household name
Lindgren and Mills go through five miles at 23:26. Twenty yards back is Brown with Larrieu another 30 behind him. At 5½ miles Lindgren separates from Mills and Larrieu passes Brown in the battle for third. Brown is game. He stays with Larrieu for a lap but then, obviously spent, steps on the curb and staggers home 60 yards behind. Lindgren wins in 29:02.0. Mills is 29:10.4 and Larrieu is 29:20.4. They are on the team and now 2nd, 4th and 5th on the all time US list. Brown's 29:33.6 is good for 7th.
Lindgren had a blister form on his big toe in the first mile but says it didn't affect his race. The trainer lances and bandages it. Mills says his improvement this year is because he has increased his training to 100 miles a week. He says this is possible because of a protein supplement he is taking.

Shot Put
Dallas Long

If anyone was certain of his spot on the team it is shot put world record holder Dallas Long. He has trained through this meet but wins with a throw of 64-9. Young Randy Matson says he has been nervous for a month. He is on his way to Tokyo off his second place 63-10. The drama is in the battle for third. On his second attempt, Dave Davis throws 62-8. Apparently there is a lack of communication. With a field of six, one would think everyone would have six throws. Not so. After three rounds the field is pared to four. Parry O'Brien, in fourth at 61-5, should know this. But he doesn't and is surprised when the field is cut, eliminating Gary Gubner and John McGrath. Gubner had thrown 61-4½. Had the big New Yorker thrown ¾ of an inch further, it would have been Parry taking a seat. O'Brien has caught a break and, in the fourth round, takes advantage of it with a throw of 63-2 to move past Davis. Big Dave can't beat that so Parry is on his fourth Olympic team.

110 Meters HH

Blaine Lindgren  and Hayes Jones

The field for the high hurdles is Russ Rogers, Blaine Lindgren, Elias Gilbert, Willie Davenport, Bobby May and Hayes Jones. Jones, a great starter, is off first but his lead over Davenport is only a foot at the first hurdle. Davenport draws even at the seventh hurdle and ekes out the win with both being timed in 13.6. Lindgren, charged with a false start, doesn't get out well, but he only needs a third and he gets it at 13.8. The other three are timed in 13.9, a time Cordner Nelson questions as he saw them separated by three yards.

Frank Covelli
The contestants in the javelin throw are unhappy with the runway which was constructed only two days earlier. There are eight throwers, but the same rule applies as in the shot put: be in the top four at the end of three rounds or take a seat. Jim Stevenson, who won in New York and therefore only has to prove his fitness, doesn't. His best effort is only 215-9, earning him last place and taking him off the team. Frank Covelli wins at 252-9. Les Tipton is second at 243-0½. Ed Red's 242-11½ gives him the last spot on the team by nearly four feet over Bob Sbordone.

1500 Meters

Dyrol Burleson won the 1500 in the first meet. He is not feeling the pressure that Bob Day, Jim Grelle, Tom O'Hara, Archie San Romani and Jim Ryun are. Day leads the first lap in 59.8. Then the pace lags with O'Hara leading at the 800 in 2:04. Apparently everyone is feeling like a kicker today. At the gun the six are tightly packed. O'Hara leads, followed by Grelle, Day, Ryun, Burleson and San Romani. At 1200, with Day fading, San Romani jumps the field and the race is on in earnest. O'Hara fights past Grelle on the curve. Burleson is boxed inside by Ryun. Burleson, a seasoned veteran, demonstrates the meaning of “when push comes to shove” to Ryun. He shoves the lanky high school kid, causing Ryun to break stride and opening up room to run. And run he does. He flies past O'Hara, Grelle and the fading San Romani, hitting the tape two yards ahead of O'Hara. Both are on the Olympic team. The real battle is for third. With Day well back and San Romani feeling the effect of his early kick, either Grelle or Ryun will go to Tokyo. If the race is 1490 meters, Grelle makes the team. Unfortunately, that is not the distance. In the last ten meters Ryun edges ahead to take third by a foot over the sprawling Grelle.

Burleson's 3:41.3 time isn't as impressive as his 52.7 for the final lap. O'Hara (53.2), Ryun (53.5), Grelle (53.6) and San Romani (54.3) all blister the last lap well enough to win most races, just not this one. The other final times: O'Hara 3:41.5, Ryun and Grelle 3:41.9, San Romani 3:43.0 and Day 3:46.1.

High Jump
If you left your seat for a hot dog, the high jump might be over before you returned. There are only six jumpers and none jump near their capacity. The reason for the poor performances across the board might be the surface from which they are jumping. Cordner Nelson calls it “football grass”. Ed Carruthers and John Thomas clear 6-10 with Carruthers winning on misses. Otis Burrell and John Rambo both clear 6-8, but Rambo is on the team because he makes the height on his first try while Burrell needs two attempts.

If there is an event where the first three seemed preordained, it is the hammer. Hal Connolly (223-5½), Ed Burke (215-0½) and Al Hall (214-9) outdistance the competition by 24 feet.

400 IH
Rex Cawley
The field in the 400 intermediate hurdles from inside out is Willie Atterberry, Rex Cawley, Jay Luck, Tom Wyatt, Billy Hardin, John Bethea, Chris Stauffer and Cliff Cushman. Atterberry false starts and withdraws. Hardin is out fast and leads at 200 with Cushman and Wyatt in close attendance. Cushman hits the fifth hurdle and falls. Cawley and Luck move up around the curve. By the eighth hurdle Cawley catches Hardin. Bethea is in third. Cawley is strong in the stretch and pulls away for a surprising world record of 49.1, taking a tenth off the mark shared by Glenn Davis and Salvatore Morale. Hardin, whose daddy held that record in the 1930's, hangs on for a 49.8 second place. Luck has been hampered with mononucleosis since the New York meet but has enough in the tank to run down Bethea in the straight and take the last spot on the team in 50.4.

200 Meters

Now it is Sunday. The field for the 200 includes Bernie Rivers, Don Webster, Richard Stebbins, John Moon and Larry Dunn. As good as they are, the real race will be among New York winner and world record holder Henry Carr, Paul Drayton, who says he is in the best shape of his life, and 100 world record holder Bob Hayes who has already qualified in the 100 and the 400 relay.
Stebbins is out quickly, but Drayton has the lead as the field comes onto the straight. Surprisingly, Carr gets a terrible start and is well back. Hayes, running from the tight lane two, gains on everyone in the straight, but the race belongs to Drayton who hits the tape in 20.4, four feet ahead of Stebbins' 20.5. Hayes is third at 20.7. Carr barely holds off Moon for fourth in 20.8.
This creates an interesting problem for the Olympic committee. Drayton and Stebbins are on the team. Though he wasn't in the top three, Carr is the world record holder and he has proved he was fit, if not sharp. This leaves Hayes the odd man out.
Carr's defeat is not clearly explained. He has had a back injury and was recently married. Obviously he wasn't pointing for this meet. Hopefully this defeat will focus his attention on the job ahead.

Al Oerter an off day but still on the plane
If Carr wasn't focused, neither is Al Oerter who certainly isn't up for this competition. He suffers a rare defeat at the hands of Jay Silvester whose 198-7½ tops big Al by four feet. The battle for the third spot on the team goes to Dave Weill who throws 191-2½ to beat Rink Babka by four inches.
Rink Babka, four inches from a ticket to Tokyo
3000 Meters Steeplechase
George Young
Jeff Fishback won the New York steeplechase. All he has to do today is be competitive. The other two spots are up for grabs among George Young, Mike Lehner, Pat Traynor and Vic Zwolak. Zwolak is taking no chances. He takes the early lead and applies pressure, opening up 40 yards on everyone except Young who hangs close. On the last water jump Young moves strongly and pulls away for an 8:44.2 victory. Zwolak's courage is rewarded with an 8:46.2 second place and a trip to Tokyo. Fishback runs conservatively, but makes sure not to muddy the selection waters by holding off Traynor and Lehner by a second in 8:55.8.

Pole Vault

Fred Hansen
Yesterday the high jump was settled in only 30 jumps, an eternity compared to the 16 attempts that decide today's pole vault. The field is Gerald Pratt, Ron Morris, Dave Tork, John Pennel, Fred Hansen and Billy Pemelton. All eschew the opening height of 15'. Hansen, Morris and Pennel are the only ones to begin at 15-6. They each clear on their first attempt. Surprisingly 16-0 decides who is on the team. Hansen, Pennel and Pemelton are the only ones to clear this height and are on the team. With that decided, it doesn't matter that Pennel and Hansen both clear 16-6 before failing at 17-0. Hansen is the winner on misses.

5000 Meters
Since Bob Schul qualified in the 5000 he has set the world record in the 2 mile. Nothing short of being dispatched by a bolt of lightning will keep him off the team. Bill Dellinger is also favored to make the team but, as Gerry Lindgren has withdrawn because of blisters from yesterday's 10,000, the other spot is up for grabs among Jim Beatty, Jim Murphy, Tom Rodda and Oscar Moore.
The field reaches the two mile in 9:05. Two laps later Beatty and Rodda drop back. Now there are four runners for three spots. Another lap sees Dellinger and Schul open five yards on Murphy with Moore another five back. This is all for Murphy. He falls 25 yards behind Moore. Moore's decision to drop out of the 10K yesterday looks pretty good today as he holds on to qualify for the third spot. Schul and Dellinger chat as they run the last lap in 62 and deliberately tie in 13:55.6. Moore qualifies in 13:58.8. (For a good biography on Oscar Moore hit the following link  ) On the Glouster Rams blog site Moore explains what went on in the 10,000 and 5,000. ed.  (“I qualified for the Olympic team 5000 at Rutgers (NJ). I had met the qualifying time in both the 5,000 and 10,000. In the 10,000 qualifying race, I was in the lead at 5000 meters and heard the time of 13:40, near my best time for an open 5000. For some reason when I heard the time, I mentally decided to drop out of the race. My coach asked me to try to qualify for the 5000 next. In the 5000, I needed to cut about 15 seconds off to make the team and I did. Ted Corbitt scolded me for not trying to also qualify in the marathon. I didn’t know anything about the qualifying race, when or where it was. I didn’t expect to qualify in the 10k and had only brought an overnight bag. They told me to go home and pack some clothes to come back to train with the Olympic team in the Coliseum in Los Angeles) Murphy is 14:04.6. Beatty, who had been a contender for Olympic gold before injuries laid him low, is fifth in 14:21.6. Rodda runs 14:28.2.

800 Meters

Jerry Siebert won the first 800 qualifying race and thus only has to prove his fitness today. This is a good thing, for the former Cal star as he has a cold. He is up against Morgan Groth who just took his American 880 record. Tom Farrell, Fran Smith, Darnell Mitchell and Barry Sugden comprise the rest of the strong field. As is his habit, Mitchell leads. Groth, taking no chances, is on his shoulder.
Tom Farrell #10
 No 400 time is given but the 600 is reached in 1:21.6. Groth drops the hammer, leading around the curve and pulling away in the straight for a 1:47.1 victory. Siebert tries, but while the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak and he fades in the stretch. Farrell is caught in a box, but pushes Sugden aside and accelerates faster than anyone, passing Siebert and taking second in 1:48.0. Siebert is third at 1:48.3. Smith passes Mitchell and Sugden in the straight but his only reward is that of being named alternate. Smith and Sugden are timed in 1:48.7. Mitchell is 1:49.3.

Triple JumpT
Ira Davis is a lock in the triple jump and indeed wins with a leap of 53-1 but it isn't that easy. Veteran Bill Sharpe, who was fourth in the '56 Olympics, matches Davis' best, but Davis wins on the basis of a better second best jump. Were one to just look at the results, it would appear that Kent Floerke had third place wrapped up with his 51-0¼, 16 inches ahead of Todd Gaskill, but there is considerable drama involved. The day's longest jumps belong to Art Walker. The former Morehouse athlete, now representing the Army, betters 55 feet twice. Unfortunately for Art, both jumps are fouls. Walker doesn't need to jump his best on his third attempt as 50 feet will put him in the finals. It doesn't happen. Cordner Nelson writes, “A possible gold medal winner, he stood in the sand and looked with disbelief at the waving red foul flag. It was one of the most frustrating moments of all.”

400 Meters
Cassell and Larabee on a relay
Ollan Cassell won the 400 in the first trials meet. He is on the inside of Mike Larrabee who says that since he has run against Cassell all summer, he knows Cassell's penchant for a hot early pace. When Cassell comes into view up on his left, Mike hangs on until the curve where he edges past. But wait, there is Ulis Williams with a two yard lead at the start of the straight. Williams says he has to have the lead at this point “because I'm not as fast as they are”. So it would appear. Larrabee pulls away for a dramatic three yard lead, but Williams isn't done. 
Ulis Williams
He fights back and closes down the stretch. At the tape it is Larrabee in a surprising world record tying 44.9 with Williams less than a yard back in a personal best of 45.0. Cassell keeps his spot on the team with a third place 45.6. Like the 100, fourth place matters as it qualifies for the relay team. Theron Lewis edges Dave Archibald, both timed in 46.3 though Cordner Nelson says it isn't that close. Bob Tobler, who has hurt both knees working on a construction job, and Bill Boyle run 46.5 and 46.6.

The decathlon has one spot to be decided. Paul Herman and Don Jeisy qualified in the first decathlon at Mt. SAC. With the runners on the starting line for the 1500, Russ Hodge leads Dick Emberger by six points. Whatever Emberger runs, Hodge needs to finish within four yards. Emberger is taking no prisoners. He runs 62 and 2:12 to drop Hodge 25 yards back. Hodge is still down 20 yards with half a lap to go when he starts his drive. Yard by yard, he closes the gap until he is only three yards down with 50 to go. At this point the bear jumps on his back and the margin lengthens inch by inch. Emberger wins the race, but has he won the decathlon? He has run 4:11.9 but Hodge has clocked 4:12.7. Eight tenths of a second is worth.......just a moment, we are looking it up.......6 points. They both have a score of 7728. Decathlon ties go to the athlete who has won the most events, in this case Emberger. For Hodge it is deja vu all over again. Incredibly, he lost third place in the Russian meet in the same manner, tying and losing on the number of events won. What are the odds of losing on a tie breaker, let alone twice in a row? It is entirely possible Russ might have stopped at the Dew Drop Inn for an adult beverage or six that evening.
Our team for the Tokyo Olympics is as follows.
100: Hayes, Jackson, Pender
200: Carr, Drayton, Stebbins
400: Cassell, Larrabee, Williams
800: Farrell, Groth, Siebert
1500: Burleson, O'Hara, Ryun
Steeplechase: Fishback, Young Zwolak
5000: Dellinger, Moore, Schul
10,000: Larrieu, Lindgren, Mills
110 Hurdles: Davenport, Jones, Lindgren
400 Hurdles: Cawley, Hardin, Luck
Marathon: Edelen, McArdle, Mills
High Jump: Caruthers, Rambo, Thomas
Pole Vault: Hansen, Pemelton, Pennel
Broad Jump: Boston, Hopkins, Shinnick
Triple Jump: Davis, Floerke, Sharpe
Shot Put: Long, Matson, O'Brien
Discus: Oerter, Silvester, Weill
Javelin: Covelli, Red, Tipton
Hammer: Burke, Connolly, Hall
Decathlon: Emberger, Herman, Jeisy
4x100 Relay: Ashworth, Hayes, Jackson, Pender
4x400 Relay: Cassell, Larrabee, Lewis, Williams

We will leave you with another dynamite question for the boys at Friday'sgathering at the Dew Drop Inn. Alert readers already know, but you can puzzle the C students with this. Who is the only US track and field athlete to qualify for the 1964 Olympic team in two individual events? That would be Billy Mills. Our next report will come from Tokyo. Stay tuned.

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