Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Thursday, February 26, 2015

v 5 n 14 A Good Second Opinion on McFarland

Here is a second opinion of our review of the film McFarland.  It more than shows that we can look at films from more than one side of the street and come away with very different views.  Thanks for sending this, John.  Actually now there are several second opinions and some stats about the California state cross country meets.

Dear George and Roy:

I had a far different reaction to the movie:

With all it's flaws for the serious runner "I loved this movie!"

1). Kevin's Costner's "Coach White" is a real story of  true redemption!

2). Coach White's family struggles are the kind of struggles that many American Families go through and I applaud those who overcome family struggles.
3). Coach White and his family's "integration" into the McFarland Community was a touching story to me about how special individuals
overcome racial and cultural divides, even their own. 
It's a real American Story of cultural acceptance !
Look back guys!  Haven't we come so far in the past fifty years!
This story probably would not have happened in the 1950's or 60's when many of us went to school!

4). This is  a story of a real coach dedicating his life to his team and making a huge difference
in the loves of young people. I could be a basketball team, girls volleyball team, a debate team
or a little league team. Teachers and coaches make big difference in the lives of their athletes when they are dedicated as Coach White was.

5). If you stay for the credits and discover that 6 of 7 young men on that first team went on to college, 
got degrees and some came back and  later served at their high school and community was very uplifting to me.

6). The various scenes of these kids getting up  to work in the
fields before schools and then sometimes after school and workouts are real.

7). I have friends who carp and carp about Mexican/Hispanic illegals 
but, I can tell you that none of us and none of our kids will perform the backbreaking work these immigrant people do 
to put food on out tables      My kids never did, I could never get them to work at a McDonald's
(My two girls, however, worked at In-N Out Burgers which pays better)
(And, Kevin, work for a Moving Company.)
The depiction of Kevin Costner going out to the fields and working with 
his kids until he collapsed is true to life.!! It's backbreaking work.

 I went into the movie with these biases (And fondnesses)

1). I had met the McFarland Coach when he brought his team to the
     Camarillo high School Relays where my kids ran track and I helped out
     at the Invitational. circa 2002-2008.  One year a McFarland boy was
     Athlete of the Meet in our night relay invitational
2). I knew that they won 9 Division 4 State Championships.
3). I read this story in Sports Illustrated 8-10 years ago.
     (I'll have to see if I can dig out the Issue somewhere. I think I saved it.
4). When I make my sales trip up Hwy. 99 and go past McFarland  I think of these teams. 
     I also think of Tommie Smith when I go by the sign: "Lemoore, CA."
5). I do not go into the movie expecting the high state of reality
     that many serious runners will have or did have. 
6). The reviews on www.metacritic while stating that it was a little
     "soapy" they credited Kevin Costner with a great performance
     and with it's uplifting story. And it's trueness to real life.

Now, things I saw as unrealistic and stretching the facts, were as follows:

1). Did  they really win the first State Championship they qualified for?
     I can check this for you. (My friend Tom Trumpler would know)  
     I'm guessing that it took 2-3 years to get there.
2). "First ever California State Cross Country Championship?????
      We had State Championship in XC when I coached at Aviation HS in
     Manhattan Beach in 1967, maybe, it was the first Div. 4 State Championship ?  Again, Tom Trumpler, what say?
3). The courses were far tougher than those that I remember or have seen.
     The final race was actually set in Griffith Park, LA.where I do not believe
      any XC races are contested.
      The site of the  Palo Alto Invitational is run mostly on a golf course
      near Palo Alto /Stanford area. Not on the "Goat hill's" the movie depicts.
      I imagine that these sites were chosen for the convenience of the 
      filming crew and where they could get enough volunteer runners.
4).  Showing 6 teams at the Palo Alto Invitational in shrinking the actual
      fact re: this meet.  Maybe 6-7 team in a division 4 race.
      But. Div. 1 or 2 race  would probably have 20-30 teams each.
5).  Showing McFarland running against Palo Alto High, was it Los Altos 
      High, and Centennial HS would not happen since they are division 1
6).  Winning their 2nd dual meet ever against Clovis H.S. would not happen. 
Clovis is a strong Div. 1 schools who host the Calif. State
      Championships every year in Track. Probably, they defeated some where along the line
      later on they defeated a Clovis HS team.
7).  Yes, "no fatty" like their depiction of their 7th. man would make a
      bona fide cross country team as 7th man but, he made his point In the
       movie for the public. It's too bad they couldn't find a guy like Max Truex
       who was Stocky for a world class runner.) Even Vladmir Kuts was not
        built like a classic distance runner, also Herb Elliott,
        Pre was built as much like a wrestler as a  distance runner
        Give the movie a break. And maybe the young man didn't
        in reality pass 50 runners in fifty yards but, I dare say that in reality
        they had a seventh man who came out as a fatty and by the time they
        won their  first championship he saved the day with his gutty, near 
        heroic finish


Guys, I hope that you will look at this movie about a coach and his 20 year coaching career with 9 Division 4 State Championship as a compression of
those years into one great story spanning one (Or, was it two years) into a 
uplifting story of success.

Maybe even one or two of you will have a few tears in your eyes as I did.

John Bork
WMU - Class of 1961

And This Review from Darryl Taylor

Greetings George and Roy!
Hi Guys-I agree that everyone goes to this film with a different set of expectations. After seeing the terrible racing scenes in UNBORKEN I was somwhat relieved to see a handful of authentic running types depicted here.Records will show that in 1957 there was an effort to host a  California CIF Cross-Country State Championship. It was held in Merced and shares McFarland's proximity to California State Hiway 99. As a member of Excelsior High School's cross-country team, and having placed 2nd in the CIF Finals that year, our team qualified to travel to Merced for what was promised to be a yearly event to crown the top cross country team in the state. Being only a junior I was unaware of the historic towns we passed along the way to Merced, towns that would contribute to Track & Field lore in the past and in years to come.
Bakersfield:   site of Jim Ryan's world record mile
McFarland:  the setting of this film
Tulare:  home of Bob Mathias, decathlon great
Fresno: home to Dutch Warmerdam and host city of the long running West Coast Relays
            (I wonder how many of your readers have a "West Coast Relays" belt buckle among their collection
Kingsburg:  home of the great Rafer Johnson
Modesto:  site of the California Relays for years
In 1957 there were no rules regarding what type of shoes you wore in competition. Spikes, flats or bare feet were all possible choices back then. Coming from Southern California it was not uncommon to have half our team racing without shoes. What we were not prepared for were the icy conditions facing us at the Merced Country Club. The swimming pool was covered with a thin layer of ice as we warmed up and the golf course was sprinkled with frozen water drops from the watering the night before all due to temperature in the mid 30's. Jack Hudson, who would later star for the University of Arizona, won the race over Compton High School's Woody Covington, a miler who would anchor Compton's Distance Medley Relay to a National HS record of 10:17 during the up coming track season. Third place went to sophomore Sal Rameriz of El Rancho High School in Montebello who just outlasted Excelsior's top runner Art Pitman, a Junior who a few short months prior to this race was ranked 10th in the nation by Track & Field News as a sophomore at 4:28.4. How things have changed. El Cajon was the team champion with 46 points ahead of Los Angeles Garfield HS (95) and Excelsior (103).
For reasons unknown to me, this championship meet was not repeated for some time, with perhaps another stab at making it happen in the mid 60's. Even into the early 80's when my own high school teams placed among the top 3-4 teams in CIF there was not state meet that I was aware of so perhaps the stated 1987 1st Annual State XC Championships has some basis in truth.
In the end, this movie provided me with the perfect opportunity to E-mail my former runners as we met on the Saturday it opened to watch the movie together. Former runners spanned the years 1967 to 2011 and by far the majority opinion was that it was a better than average story, regardless of the fat boy Danny Diaz saving the day for the team in the final race of the season. All in all, I think I share John Bork's opinion of the film. The scene where Coach White takes the team to the Pacific Ocean for their first ever visit to the beach, was something I experienced many times with my own teams. I also felt a deep seated tug when White finally earned the title "COACH" from his runners, a word that in many instances can be compared with the word "DAD" in its depth of meaning.
Hollywood has always had a difficult time creating authentic scenes of running and racing. This film does not break new ground on that score.

George - a few comments on previous posts re: "McFarland".  Not really much about the movie - re: John Bork's post - I went to Camarillo High School, grad in '68 - prior to the Cam Distance carnival.  But a few things - XC in 1967 took place at  LB State where there were only 3 divisions - no state meet was held then.  LB was the site for a number of years when it moved to Mt Sac in mid 70s(?).  State meet was instituted ... (not sure).  I wish they would have had a state meet in 67.  I know there are others from that era and before who would have welcomed the opportunity.

And yet another reply.
The previous post mentioned XC runners not being able to play and or excel in any sport other than the lumbering XC guys.  I have at least one brother who could have played football or baseball at any upper division (called University then) program and likely played pro.  We 'played' those sports with a guy who was recruited by USC to be their quarterback and was the #1 draft pick in Baseball.  He chose baseball, my brother was better than him in both sports - but CHOSE to run track, had hanker-in to try the others but was busy winning races in So CAL and at State and Natl levels.  Have another brother who had a 40+ vertical, who ran XC before going over to the dark side (- football and basketball). It bugs me a bit to dismiss all runners as uncoordinated geeks.  I am sure it is grossly untrue - across the board.  I have heard that Steve Scott was an excellent pitcher.   There are numerous examples of outstanding athletes running distance in XC and distance races in T&F.  Well enuff said.  


Here are Factual Stats and info -  from my good friend Tom Trumpler.
As Meet Director for the Camarillo HS Relay Invitational (Run on Friday evening
before the full track meet on Saturday). In Tom's postion as meet director he had
much contact with Coach White and the other coaches who entered Relay Teams
both on the phone and then when they arrived at the meet.

The only thing that Tom did not clarify is when California began hosting State Championships in Cross Country.

As I look at Tom's Stats the only thing that seems to make the movie's assertion that it was the First Ever State Meet in California
is that it appears to be the first year of a division 4 Championship in 1990  However, McFarland didn't win that race they won the 1990
Division 3 Championship. 

Thanks for editing my McFarland Comments!


Buck, Legend & Charley,

I wasn't aware of an attempt to start a California state X-C championship in 1957, but we applaud whoever spear headed the idea.

The CIF State office has run a state championship in X-C since 1987, see attached PDF and McFarland info below.
McFarland won 9 state championships from 1987 thru 2001.

Buck, Aviation was CIF Southern Section X-C champion in 1959 and 1964.
In the 1964 championship run at Long Beach State there were four divisions (AAA, AA, A, Small Schools).

California CIF State X-C Championships:

1987- 1989  -  Three Divisions
1990- 1995  -  Four Divisions
1996- present  - Five Divisions

McFarland Boys at CIF State X-C Championships, 1987 thru 2009:

1987 -  1st,  Division 3
1988 -  5th,  Division 3
1989 -  2nd,  Division 3
1990 -  DNP (in top 5 at least)
1991 -  DNP (in top 5 at least)
1992 -  1st,  Division 4
1993 -  1st,  Division 4
1994 -  1st,  Division 4
1995 -  1st,  Division 4
1996 -  1st,  Division 5
1997 -  4th,  Division 4
1998 -  5th,  Division 4
1999 -  1st,  Division 4
2000 -  1st,  Division 4
2001 -  1st,  Division 4
2002 -   DNP (in top 5 at least)
2003 -   3rd,  Division 4
2004 -   DNP (in top 5 at least)
2005 -   5th,  Division 4
2006 -   4th,  Division 4
2007 -   3rd,  Division 4
2008 -   2nd, Division 4
2009 -   2nd, Division 4

Be sure to "search" the PDF file for Camarillo.
In 1989, Cam High was Division 1 champ, and ranked "National Champions" by Harrier Magazine.
Ask Charley, he was there in 1989!!!

For a more detailed history of California state high school cross country champions, please refer to the site below.
Thanks to Tom Trumpler for connecting us to this site.


From Bill Schnier:   
I  just read the Sports Illistrated article from 1964 about McFarland, wanting to do so before I saw the movie which Kathy and I will see in a few hours.  It was exceedingly well written but difficult to see all the words with all that water in my eyes.  I can think of very few lives being better lived that that of Mr. White and I will approach the movie not from the suspension of belief characteristic of so many sports movies but rather the much more important aspects of human relations and coaching at its best which is helping get people where they want to go, even if they can't always see where they want to go.       Bill

March 3

Hello again George and Roy-here is an additional bit of information regarding McFarland USA. The article is written by Jose Cardenas, the young man who started out too fast and died in the State Meet Championships that were depicted in the movie. He essentially corroborates the events in that state meet where Dany Diaz, one of their slowest runners, saved the day by taking Jose's place in the top 5 scorers on the team. There was also some question about the location of the 1987 state meet which was filmed in Griffith Park for the film. In reality, according to Cardenas, the competition was held at Woodward Park which continues to this day as the site of California State XC Championships. Here is a link to the article as it appeared in today's (Monday, March 2nd) Los Angeles Times. Cardenas, once a writer for the LA Times relates his feelings about that competition nearly 30 years ago.
Cheers from Souther California where there was snow covering the Huntington Beach Pier and Plaza today! Go figure.
Darryl Taylor

From the Delano (CA) Record  Feb. 26, 2015

McFarland honors Coach and Mrs. Jim White

PictureRetired Coach and Mrs. Jim White flank a bronze plaque honoring them, at Thursday’s green space dedication.

By Bob Cane
Staff Writer

A large part of McFarland turned out, Thursday, to dedicate a green space that will be a central  feature of the community’s planned up-grading of its main downtown shopping and activities area  to retired track and field Coach and Mrs. Jim White.

In doing so, the community is recognizing not only what the Whites have contributed to the  past, but to the future, City Manager John Wooner said. It is that future to which the city council referred, a few years ago, which it authorized the addition of the image of a runner to the city logo, he said.

White, who is credited with building and inspiring a track and field team which brought multiple championships to a community which had little to be proud of, represents that type of faith in the future of McFarland and its youth, the city manager told a crowd gathered at the recently completed gazebo area at Kern Ave, and Frontage Road.

The event also featured the unveiling of a bronze plaque honoring the Whites. White and his teams are the subjects of a movie that the Disney Company was slated to release to theaters on Valentines Day or a few days later.

White taught in the McFarland schools for 24 years. “If you are old enough, I probably had you in school, and if your kids are old enough, I probably had your kids,” the ex-coach said.

“I thank God that I have had this opportunity to be here,” and to work with McFarland youth, he continued. And he didn’t do it alone, he added. His wife, he said, has been like a mom to all his teams, “and has been by my side for 40 years.”

White said he hopes the dedication and all the attention paid to the success story of the track teams will be a “positive inspiration” for McFarland, and drew attention to the new motto on the city logo: “Tradition. Unity, Excellence.”

“That is what is going on in our community, that is what McFarland is most proud of,” he said.   

V 5 N. 12 We've Seen "McFarland"

Sometimes the hype just doesn't do the job. Well, I guess the real job of hype  is to sell an idea along with a ticket.   Any film is an investment with the goal to return investors' money  in multiples of 3 or better.   So we read the promises and saw that a faded star was appearing in an upcoming film.  It was about a subject we love and already knew as a wonderful story.  The question becaqme, "Will the filmmaker be able to convey that story to us in a way that we will be inspired, thrilled, proud of who we are and what our sport can achieve?"   Earlier reviews gave McFarland C+ as a movie.   We didn't want to believe it ,  we wanted a higher rating, and we wanted to judge for ourselves.    So far McFarland hasn't come to my corner of the world, but my colleague Roy Mason, who knows the story more intimately than most has been to the film and sends us this report.

It was good and bad.  Good from the standpoint that the sport was exposed to the general public but bad if you know anything about running.  Too many points to discuss.  Some of the kids looked like runners but the "best" kid was about 5'8 175 and ran a flat out 50 yard dash throughout the races.  They win the state championship because the last kid, the fatty that goes about 220 lbs is "inspired" by the coach's pre-race comments and passes about 100 kids in the last 50 yards.  The opposing teams and their coaches are arrogant, racist assholes, taunting the McFarland kids with lines like, "I didn't know beaners could run unless a cop was chasing them".  Of course distance runners are anything but arrogant.  We are humble because if we could play QB, dunk or throw a 95 mph fastball, we would be doing that instead of running distance.  In Sept.  the school didn't have a team, but then they throw one together that win state in November, beating schools with kids who have been training through the summer.  Also - don't get me started - the opposing kids, yes, most of them could run but they also looked to be 22-25 years old.  Probably worth seeing from a sociological standpoint but don't expect much in the way of athletic realism.  

Okay,  so Roy is from the short and succinct Hemigway school of reporting.    I've also heard a lot of disappointment about the Louis Zamperini film  Unbroken which I have not seen.  Let's face it, making a movie based on a true story is not easy.  Fantasy is a piece of cake, because nobody has been there.  But when we know too much, we become much more jaded and aware of the flaws.  Time gets compressed, events get out of order, and actors don't resemble or interpret  the actual characters accurately.      I watched the film about Stephen Hawking, but not knowing anything about Dr.Hawking and his theories and just a little about his life, I was able to be thoroughly entertained.  How much was true, how much was fantasy doesn't matter now.   No one was trying to sell me going to war on a bunch of half truths and juxtaposed events.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

v.5 n 11 February 1965

The indoor season, which started slowly, is now going full blast. But before we give you that report, let us review Ron Clarke's outdoor season in Australia and New Zealand. We reported on some of these races in last month's issue, but to more fully understand this great runner we need to put his racing in perspective.
Here is how Clarke spent the month between Jan. 17 and Feb 14:
* Jan. 17 Hobart - A world record 5000 of 13:34.8 (not 13:34.6 as reported last month), breaking Vladimir Kuts' 13:35.0.
  • Jan. 21 Tokoroa, NZ - 8:33.0 2 mile in an attempt to break Bob Schul's 8:26.4 world record
  • Jan. 23 Adelaide - 8:47.0 2 mile in 90 degree weather
  • Jan. 26 Melbourne - 27:40.0 6 mile in extremely windy conditions in an attempt to break his own world record of 27:17.8
  • Jan. 28 Melbourne - 4:07.8 mile
  • Jan. 30 Melbourne – 13:19.0 3 mile
  • Feb. 1 Auckland, NZ – Broke his recent 5000 world record with a 13:33.6, passing 3 miles in 13:08.0 to just miss his own 13:07.6 WR en route
  • Feb. 5 Dunedin, NZ – 5000 meters in 13:47.0
  • Feb. 6 Melbourne - Ran an 880 in 1:56.0, losing to Tony Forbes' 1:55.3
  • Feb. 10 Melbourne - Attempted to break the world records at 20K and one hour but when high winds made that impossible, he stopped after ten miles, covered in 47:45.8, 19 seconds off the WR for that distance.
  • Feb. 13 Melbourne - One mile in 4:04.4
  • Feb. 14 Unlisted site - Ran 3 miles in 13:11.0 in 90 degree heat.
For those of you counting at home, you are right, that is 12 high quality races in 29 days. He was paid for none of these, running only for the love of running. Cue “Those Were the Days” background music.

The Millrose Games are held on Thursday, Jan. 28, the first of three meets in three nights for Bill Crothers. He wins the half easily in 1:51.2. Local hero Tom Farrell from St. Johns hangs back in the 600 until the last lap then passes three Olympians to win in 1:10.5. Ollan Cassell (1:10.8), Theron Lewis (1:11.2) and Mike Larrabee (1:12.3) trail.
Brit John Whetton surprises New Zealand's John Davies with a wicked final lap which brings him home a winner in 4:05.4, the season's fastest mile.

Bill Crothers

The two mile is decided by a vigorous kick as well. George Young follows until two laps remain then turns on the heat to win by ten yards in 8:48.4 over Kiwi Bill Bailey, 8:50.6 and Olympic 10K champ Billy Mills, 8:52.0.
Fordham junior Sam Perry missed most of last year with a hamstring problem but, if tonight's performance is an indication, he is healthy now. He blasts a 5.9 60 to destroy an excellent field of Edwin Roberts, Mel Pender and Paul Drayton to tie the WR he shares with Bob Hayes.
On this day in Wales, Whetton could only manage a third
place behind Alan Simpson and Ricardo Romo c. 1963?
One day and 500 miles later we are in Toronto for the Maple Leaf Games. Bill Crothers won the 880 last night in New York. Tonight he drops to the 600 and administers a beating to an excellent field. His 1:11.3 leaves Ron Whitney (1:12.1) and George Kerr (1:12.2) well behind. John Whetton's win last night ran his consecutive victory streak to 17. Tonight the streak ends at the hands, or more accurately, the feet of Jim Grelle in 4:13.2. No splits are given.
The three mile resembles the British Commonwealth Games with New Zealand's Bill Ballie coming home in 13:42.6 ahead of Canadians Dave Ellis (13:45.5) and Chris Williamson (13:49.2) and Brit Mike Wiggs (13:51.6).
Now it is Saturday and we are in the stands for the Boston Athletic Association meet where we find that H...E'...S....B...A...C...K. Yep, that's Bill Crothers lining up for the 600, his third race in three cities in three nights. One minute nine and three tenths seconds after the gun is fired, the great Canadian has not only won again, but has come within a tenth of a second of tying Wendell Mottley's world record. Tom Farrell clocks 1:09.8 in second. Crothers says he has been going to bed at 2, getting on a plane at 8 to get to the next meet for the last two days.
Jim Grelle finds that he who lives by the kick, dies by the kick as Kiwi John Davies goes by on the last lap to win the season's fastest mile, 4:03.0 to 4:04.0. Billy Mills gives indication of good things to come at longer distances with his 4:05.2 PR.
Charley Mays wins the quarter in 48.3 and Richard Ross wins the high jump with his first indoor seven foot clearance.
Not all indoor track is on the east coast. Indeed, on this very night the Oregon Invitational is being held in Portland, where the fans leave talking about Jerry Lindgren. The Washington State freshman says he is not in top condition, yet he travels two miles in a personal best of 8:37.9 to leave Oregon's Ken Moore (8:43.2) and Oregon State's Tracy Smith (8:45.7) well behind. Lindgren's effort tonight shatters Bruce Kidd's age 18 indoor best of 8:53.1.

A year ago Neil Steinhauer was a 57-8 shot putter at Westmont College in California. Now he is a student at Oregon and things are looking up. On his first throw of the evening he breaks 60'. Not one to rest on his laurels, young Neil pops 61-5 on his second effort. He finishes the night with three more 60 foot throws and a foul of 63-6.
A week has past and now we are in Philadelphia for Friday's Inquirer Games. Although there are few significant marks, the meet is noteworthy because it is the first meet of a Russian tour. Igor Ter-Ovanesyan provides the highlight with his 26-1 ¼ long jump victory but high jump world record holder Valeriy Brumel has to withdraw because of a sore knee. Brits John Whetton (4:06.8) and Maurice Herriott (8:54.2) win the mile and two mile. Bill Crothers, after three tough races last week and a bout of the flu, drops out of the 1000.
The next night, Feb. 6, finds the focus of the track world moved west to New Mexico and Washington for the Albuquerque Invitational and the Seattle Invitational.
Local favorite Adolph Plummer returns from a short lived retirement in the 440, however the night belongs to Ray Saddler. Adolph is in great shape to run a heck of a 380, but folds badly at this point. Saddler blasts past en route to a 48.1, a tenth off Wendell Motley's world record but a tenth better than Roy Cochran's American record. Olympic champ Mike Larrabee, obviously not an indoor guy, takes second in 49.1, an improvement of 1.4 seconds over his previous best.
Ralph Boston wins the hurdles in 7.3 before jumping 25-8 to edge Clarence Robinson (25-4 ¼) and Gayle Hopkins (25-3 ½).
A standing room only crowd of 10,000 is in attendance for Seattle's first indoor meet. They are not disappointed. John Camien outsprints Bob Day as they run the fastest mile times of the season, 4:01.7 and 4:02.4. Jerry Lindgren clocks the second best two mile of the winter, 8:40.9, but this generates little excitement as he has already run three seconds faster.
Once again Neil Steinhauer has five throws over 60 feet. His 61-3 is the winner. Hometown boy Phil Shinnick takes the long jump at 25-1 and the high jump at 6-9.
Now it is Thursday, the eleventh, and we are in Madison Square Garden for the New York Athletic Club Games. Last summer Tom Farrell, a St. John's product, stated that he wanted to be well known. Tonight he gets his wish. He charges into the lead at the start of the 880 and holds off a strong bid by recuperating Bill Crothers to win in 1:49.8, a tenth better than Peter Snell's world record set three years ago.
It will take a big man to beat Gary Gubner who has a streak of 17 shot put wins at the Garden. At 6-3, 308, Hungary's Olympic bronze medalist Vilmos Varju, fits that description. He throws 61-10 ¼ to beat Gubner by over a foot.
Valeriy Brumel's knee still hurts, but he toughs it out to win the high jump at 7-3.
Ray Saddler's Texas Southern mile relay team edges Maryland State 3:17.2 to 3:17.8 on the strength of Saddler's 48.0 anchor.
Two nights later at the Michigan State Relays the Oklahoma State two mile relay team runs the second fastest indoor time ever, but maybe the intrinsically best. Villanova has the world record at 7:24.9 but it was run on an eight lap to the mile track. The Cowboys clock 7:26.1 on this eleven lap to the mile track which has much tighter curves.
After much deliberation and intense mathematical study, the Once Upon a Time in the Vest editorial staff proclaims the OSU effort this night to be intrinsically superior. Jim Metcalf leads off in 1:53.5 and is followed by Jim Perry and Tom Von Ruden, both clocking 1:50.8. Dave Perry finishes in 1:51.6.
On the same evening the track world is focused on the Los Angeles Invitational where the feature performer is Peter Snell in the final indoor race of of his career, running the 1000 yards against his Olympic 800 runner up, Bill Crothers. Snell is determined to go out on a high note. He eschews his normal wait and kick strategy for an all out attack, jumping to the lead at the gun. With Crothers right on him, Snell passes the 440 in 54.6. Crothers waits until the straightway just before the final lap to make his move. The Olympic champion holds him off as they begin the gun lap. On the backstretch Snell allows the pace to slacken but now he is just playing with his rival. As soon as Crothers closes, Snell throws it into gear and is gone. His half second margin, 2:07.9 to 2:08.4, may not sound decisive, but it is obvious that the New Zealander had a lot left in the tank. Crothers has to be credited with a courageous performance as mentioned earlier he is just coming off a bout of the flu.
Snell's fellow New Zealanders carry the day in the two longest races. John Davies' 4:06.3 mile bests Billy Mills' 4:06.6 and Wiltold Baran's 4:06.8. In the two mile Bill Baillie allows George Young to stay close for the first mile, then pulls away to a decisive 12 second win in 8:43.4.
New 880 world record holder Tom Farrell shows his range, running the 600 in 1:10.8, giving a lesson to veterans Jack Yerman (1:11.4) and George Kerr (1:11.7).
Floyd Manning bests Billy Pemelton and Mel Hein in the pole vault as they all clear 16-0. But the real story is the special high school vault where Paul Wilson of Warren High in Downey, California clears 16-0 ¾ for a high school record, but more importantly, the best mark in the world this year. Who knows, the kid might be pretty good some day.
Long Beach City College freshman Earl McCullough shows his seniors no respect in the 60 yard hurdles. He scores a dominating win in 7.1 over Brian Polkinghorne and Blaine Lindgren who run 7.3 and Russia's best, Anatoliy Mikhailov, another tenth back. Like Paul, Earl may have a future in the sport.
Shot put veterans John McGrath and Jay Silvester are smiling as they leave the meet. They went 1-2 with PRs of 63-5 and 63-0 ½. For McGrath, it was an impressive 10 inch improvement.
Has there ever been a better rivalry than that of Ralph Boston and Igor Ter-Ovanesyan in the long jump? Tonight is typical. Boston wins for the 8th time in 11 meeting by the margin of the cuticle on your left pinkie finger, one quarter of an inch, 26-4 ¾ to 26-4 ½. They will continue their dual next week in the AAU Nationals
The national championships are held in Madison Square Garden Friday and Saturday, Feb 19-20. As close as the Ter-Ovanesyan – Boston long jump competition was last week, this time it is even closer. Boston's first jump of 26-2½ gives him the lead which he holds through five rounds until the Russian matches it on his last attempt. Ter-Ovanesyan's second best jump is 26-1, ¾ inch better than Boston's so the victory belongs to the Russian. These marks would probably have been better had there been proper preparation. For some unexplained reason the pit is filled with dirt, not sand. The dirt “breaks” after each jump, causing jumpers to lose about six inches says reporter Jim Dunaway.
Boston may be disappointed but he doesn't go home without a gold medal. He lost the long jump by a scant margin, but he makes up for that by winning the 60 yard hurdles in a finish capable of being decided only by the Bulova phototimer. His 7.21 edges Roger Morgan's 7.23 and Earl McCullough's 7.24.
Billy Mills has won only one of six races this season, but he is looking for a record in the three mile. He goes through the mile in 4:25 and two miles in 8:59 with Canadian Dave Ellis in close attendance. Mills is able to crank out a 61.5 final quarter to leave Ellis six yards back as they run American and Canadian records of 13:25.4 and 13:26.4.
Former Mankato State star Ted Nelson runs last in the 1000 until the last lap when he comes alive and passes everyone, catching German Dieter Bogatzki fifteen yards from the tape to win by a foot in 2:10.5 for both.
It takes three tries to get the 600 underway. The field is recalled when Jack Yerman falls on the first turn. A false start follows. Finally they are off and Ollan Cassell and Andrzej Badenski trade the lead until the gun lap when Jack Yerman makes a move that carries him into first on the backstretch. Frank Tomeo, running for the Quantico Marines, closes fast but the victory belongs to Yerman by two yards in 1:11.3.
The mile quickly becomes a tactical affair which suits Jim Grelle just fine. He trails in 3:09.6 at the 1320 before finishing in 57.8 to soundly trounce Wiltold Baran and Carey Weisiger in 4:07.4.
A 7-2 high jump victory for anyone else would be reason to shout the news from the rooftops, but for the dominant Valeriy Brumel, it is just another day at the office.
Hal Connolly is an unpaid volunteer coach at Santa Monica High. His competitive days are behind him or so he thought until a couple weeks ago when he decided to give the 35 lb weight throw another shot just for the hell of it. For Hal, spinning the ball and chain is much like riding a bicycle. He hasn't forgotten how. His 70-0½ gives him the victory over the 66-8 of George Frenn. The only man to ever throw farther is Hal himself.
Shot putter Randy Matson has been staying close to home this winter. He has competed in indoor meets in Lubbock, Fort Worth and Dallas and broken the world record in each with throws of 65-6¾, 65-8¼ and 66-2½ but you won't find his name in the record books because he used the standard outdoor shot, not the required “kneadable” indoor ball.
In an effort to aid our readers who remember track “back in the day”, we invite you to join us on a trip down the memory lane of advertisers in this issue of Track and Field News. Tempting you to separate yourself from your money are: Nutrament (nutritionally complete liquid meal), New Balance shoes (no shin-splints), Herff Jones and Co. (a complete selection of high quality athletic medals, charms, keys and trophies), Garrett Tubular Hurdles (fast folding), Aluminum Athletic Equipment Co. (aluminum spill proof rocker hurdles), Port-A-Pit (happy landings), Mike Ryan and Sons (track clothing and equipment), The Harry Gill Company (3 fine hurdles to chose from), Carmel River Inn (an adventure in pleasant living at Carmel's garden motel), Rubkor America (the highest performance track in the world), M-F Athletic Company (new improved M-F heel protector), Brooks Shoes (style 75 track shoe), Recreation and Athletic Products (“Tartan” Surfacing Material), Packy (all new indoor pole vault box) John T Core (pentathlon screen test) and Puma Track Shoes (internationally famous). Of course the last page is a full page ad for Adidas shoes which you may purchase at Carlsen Import in New York City, Van Devoort' Hardware (yes, hardware) in Lansing, Michigan and the old standby, Cliff Severn Sporting Goods in Hollywood, CA.
There are several letters to the editor but this one caught our eye. This young man has seen the future. “I was really mad when they cut in on the telecast of the LA Invitational right in the middle of the two-mile for the presidential press conference, in which we learned that Lyndon still had his cold. A half hour wasted on what was basically a non-news story.” Hal Higdon, Michigan City, Indiana.

John Whetton's Later Career

John Whetton went on to further his post racing career being chased by the hounds.
This article appeared in a British online review with a BBC news release about Whetton
BBC News

Hunt ban gives athlete run around -
The recent ban on fox hunting has left one former Olympic athlete from Nottinghamshire busier then ever.
John Whetton, a 1,500m finalist at the Tokyo and Mexico games is a volunteer runner for the Readyfield Bloodhounds hunt in the East Midlands.

The 64-year-old from Newstead Abbey Park, is chased by hounds over countryside in Notts, Leics and Lincs.

The retired lecturer says the sport is now a hit with hunters who do not want to break the law.

The worst thing that can happen is you get licked to death

John Whetton

"We are not in competition with the fox hunts, but if people have a conscience about the legality of the animal rights issues with fox hunting, and don't want to be in conflict with their friends, they opt to come blood-hounding," he said.

Mr Whetton, who came eighth in the 1964 Olympics and fifth in the Mexico games four years later, says he is not afraid of the dogs but always wants to be first past the finishing line.

He said: "It's a competition. You are competing against them and want to get to the end before they do.

"If they do catch you, the worst thing that can happen is you get licked to death. They are very friendly."

  • Another 'commentor' on that piece provided this bio of Whetton
  • John Whetton established such an enviable reputation as an indoor miler, that it is sometimes overlooked that he also produced a number of impressive outdoor performances. Whetton won six consecutive national AAA indoor Mile/1500m titles between 1963 and 1968, a number of them by considerable margins. His early good form led to his selection for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic, where he finished 8th in the 1500m final. The annual European Indoor Championships commenced in 1966, and John won the 1500m title in each of the first three editions. Despite winning both national and international indoor titles in 1966, he was unable to reproduce that degree of superiority in the outdoor season, and failed to qualify for the either the European Championships or Commonwealth Games held that year. It was relatively late in his career that Whetton first won a medal in the AAA outdoor championships, finishing 2nd in the 1 Mile in 1967, before registering his only victory in the same event the following year. He subsequently gained selection for his 2nd Olympic Games at Mexico City in 1968, where he again made the final of the 1500m, this time finishing in 5th place. On 2 August 1969, Whetton finished 2nd in the AAA 1500m to Frank Murphy (Ireland), who John was destined to duel with again 7 weeks later at the European Championships in Athens. In the last lap in the Athens final, held on 20 September, Murphy led a group of four down the back straight, with Whetton at the rear. John eased through a gap with 200 metres remaining to position himself right behind Murphy, before making his challenge approaching the home straight. The two fought each other tooth and nail down the straight, before Whetton just edged ahead to claim victory (see photo above). Whetton's last major international appearance was at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, where he finished 5th in the 1500m final. (Ron Casey)

Tom Farrell

The following article appeared in Tom Farrell's St. John's University newsletter when he was inducted into their hall of fame in 2008
  • QUEENS, N.Y. (Nov. 13, 2008) – On Monday, November 17, the St. John’s Cross Country and Track & Field programs will honor alumnus and volunteer coach Tom Farrell in a celebration of the 40th anniversary of his bronze medal performance at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games.
    A dinner reception commending Farrell’s dedicated career with St. John’s and multiple outside athletic accomplishments will be held at 7 p.m. in the Marillac Terrace. Friends, alumni and fans of the St. John’s cross country and track & field programs are invited to attend.

    Farrell, the guest of honor, is a former world record holder and part of the inaugural group of inductees in the St. John’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He is one of the most decorated athletes in St. John’s history and has served as the volunteer assistant coach for the Red Storm for the past nine years.
    He arrived at St. John’s in 1961 as a graduate of Archbishop Molloy High School. He made his mark early as the individual champion at the 1961 Freshman Metropolitan Cross Country Championships, helping his team win as well. As a sophomore, he ran in the record-setting two-mile relay team of Paul StelmaszykBob Buckley and Tom Bauer, who ran the relay in 7:41.1 at February’s Millrose Games. In late March of that year, he ran the second leg of the mile-relay team which broke the Canadian record (3:20.8) at the Eastern Canadian Track & Field Championships in Hamilton, Ontario 
    As a junior, Farrell represented the United States at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, as the first American in the 800-meter run, after becoming St. John’s first NCAA Champion at the NCAA Finals in Eugene, Ore. Farrell qualified for the Olympic Trials at Randalls Island in New York City, where he finished fourth, then went on to finish second at the Olympic Finals in Los Angeles. He finished fifth in the 800-meter run in Tokyo.
    In mid-February of 1965, after his Olympic run, Farrell defeated Canada’s Bill Crothers at Madison Square Garden’s NYAC Games to set a new indoor World Record in the 880-yard run of 1:49.8. In the spring, he defended his NCAA 800-meter title. Farrell also won the British AAA 800-meter title in that same year. In the spring of 1966, he won the AAU title.

From Bill Schnier:
Very nice writeup on Feb, 1965.  I was very impressed with Ron Clarke's  season, both in quality and quantity, and especially his running for the love of the sport.  I especially enjoyed that we was always running in events shorter than his specialty in an attempt to develop a kick which improved but was still a limitation to this world record holder.  He still tried, and tried very hard.  Your section on Tom Ferrell was also impressive because he was short and stocky, not perfect for a middle-distance runner.  He had desire which compensates for a lot of deficiencies and also had speed.  I got to know Tom when we were both coaches in the Big East.  Although he lives in California, he returns for all three Big East championships to help with the St. John's team, all as a volunteer.  He is a very enjoyable person, full of information.  His bronze in 1968 was his high point, but he also had real empathy for the Afro-American movement in that Olympics, befriending many of those athletes.  I saw that spirit first hand as he worked with all St. John's athletes equally.  We spent some time at each championship talking about the days of yore as well as the current status of T&F.  But mainly I enjoyed him immensely inasmuch as he was a very well-rounded person, expert in many areas of life.  Although he has lived in Australia and California, he is still a New Yorker and always will be, but maybe all of us never really leave our origins.       Bill

V 11 N. 3 "Quicksilver: The Mercurial Emil Zatopek" by Pat Butcher, a Book Review by Paul O'Shea

When we come across books to review, we know that there is a particular skill set needed to be fair and honest and at the same time literary...