|Ted Nelson, front and center on 1965 National Champion WMU team.|
Coach George Dales
Front Row Keith Reed, Ted Nelson, Steve Smith
Back Row Roger Plont, Wolfgang Lugauer, Mike Gallagher, Gary Myers
Yesterday I heard from several Western Michigan Alums that one of their own , Ted Nelson , had passed away in Ann Arbor , MI. As some of you old timers may remember, Western Michigan, was a powerhouse of middle distance and distance running in the late 1950s and 1960s under Coach George Dales. The likes of John Bork, Jared Ashmore, Richard Mach, Dick Greene, and Dick Pond struck terror in the hearts of many collegiate distance crews in those days. Ted Nelson was a member of that noble group of runners and was on both their national championship teams in 1964 and 1965. None of those members of the 64 and 65 teams shone as individually as the aforementioned runners, but their team of better than average guys really put together a season that should be an example of what a bunch of very dedicated young men are capable of achieving. The Mid American Conference was a hotbed of great distance runners in the 60s, with Miami of Ohio, Ohio U, and Western Michigan leading the way on any given day.
In looking for more information about Ted Nelson I found the following article to share with our readers. It is long, but it merits taking the time to read. It covers well that 1964 season and the current fate of the program which has been sidelined along with many other running programs in the Mid American Conference.
My personal connection to this team was through Mike Gallagher who beat me in the state high school mile race in Ohio in 1961. It was in the days when state officials decided it was easier to run three separate races in the mile and compare times, assuming the fast heat would produce the winner. They were wrong , big time, and Mike who was in the second heat won the race, besting my time in the fast heat.
Let it also be known that the reader should not confuse Western Michigan's Ted Nelson with two other Ted Nelson's who were outstanding runners as well. I'm referring to Ted Nelson, the half miler out of Mankato State in Minnesota, and Ted Nelson, the quarter miler from Texas A&M.