Sunday, February 21, 2016

V 6 N. 17 March , 1966

MARCH 1966

Vancouver, BC
    February 19 finds us in Vancouver, BC for the Achilles meet (sponsored by the Achilles International Athletics Society). The big news, Parry O'Brien's lifetime best 64-0 shot put at age 34, was reported in last month's issue. The two time Olympic gold medalist was pushed by Neil Steinhauer who threw 63-3 ½. 
Parry O'Brien Video    Helsinki to Rome (interviewed by Caitlin Jenner)

Burleson being interviewed by Bob Richards.
One of our readers points out that yesterday, Feb. 20, 2016 was
Bob Richards' 90th birthday.

Dyrol Burleson wins the mile against minimal opposition in 4:04.7. Jerry Lindgren is finding the indoor season more challenging than last year. He decides to change tactics in the two mile. Tired of being the guy who sets the pace, he goes out slow (no splits given) and attempts to finish strong. Not a good plan, Gerry. Hungary's Lajos Mecser handles him easily, 8:43.0 to 8:49.4.

San Francisco
    Six days later we are in San Francisco's venerable Cow Palace for the Golden Gate Invitational. Ron Clarke may not be the Energizer Bunny, but this evening he gives a pretty good impression.
His objective is Jim Beatty's indoor two mile record of 8:30.8. At the halfway point his 4:13.8 puts him only three tenths behind Beatty's pace. Once that announcement has been made, the crowd of 9300 comes alive. With the announcement of each succeeding quarter mile time, the roar increases. With a quarter mile to go, the great Australian needs a 63 second finish. He does that with ease, coming home in 61.1 to take Beatty's mark by two full seconds in 8:28.8. Let's see, this is Clarke's – give us a minute to count them all - 16th world record.

    As much as this race was Clarke against the clock, there was some serious competition as well. Tracy Smith, a model of consistency last month with three clockings between 8:43 and 8:42, runs the race of his life to finish in 8:32.4, the fourth fastest indoor two mile ever. Gerry Lindgren, who later complained that school work is interfering with his training, is a well beaten 8:48.2.

    Other highlights include Jim Grelle's 4:00.3 mile and San Jose State's Joe Neff's 880 upset of Bob Hose, Archie San Romani and Cary Weisiger in what was obviously a tactical race. Neff's 1:56.4 gives him a three tenths margin over the three. Gayle Hopkins thumps Olympic champ Ralph Boston in the long jump 25-10 ¼ to 24-11 ½ and Art Walker holds off Mahoney Samuels in the triple jump 52-5 ¾ to 52-0 for the best field event marks. John Pennel wins the pole vault at 16-5.
Art Walker

Art Walker in Action  See Walker's style in this clip.

    A couple USC kids give notice of good things to come. Earl McCullough takes the 60 yard highs in 7.2 while teammate Lennox Miller wins the 60 by a remarkable three tenths in 6.0.
Earl McCullough
Lennox Miller

Toronto, Ontario
    On the same day before 13,685 fans in Toronto's Maple Leaf Games, Pennel's roommate, Bob Seagren, vaults a lifetime best of 16-7. A narrow miss at 17-0 portends things to come.
Bob Seagren

   Kansas City , MO
 The following day, Feb. 26, sees the finals of the Big Eight Indoor Championship. Kansas, lead by John Lawson's mile – two mile double, wins 41-37 over Nebraska. In this unenlightened time freshmen are not permitted to compete on the varsity level, therefore Jim Ryun, an Olympic competitor as a high schooler, is relegated to running a “special freshman mile'. The fact that the Kansas City track is a painfully tight 12 laps to the mile (146+ yards) doesn't seem to bother Ryun. He clips off a 3:59.6, the third fastest ever, behind only Tom O'Hara (3:56.4) and Jim Beatty (3:58.6), and the best for a 12 lap to the mile track.
Our friend Bill Blewett was a freshman at Oklahoma and wrote several years ago about that race.   
In the freshman mile of the 1966 Big-8 indoor meet (added to the program just for Ryun), he ran 3:59 on the little 12-lap Kansas City track, and the first two runners he lapped were Pete Carney and me. That distinction was reported in 
the Daily Oklahoman as well (When Pete saw the paper he shouted: "Why did they have to print that?"). But Ryun also inspired me. As a freshman I set my goal was to run sub-4:00, and I actually believed I could. My best mile at OU was a 4:07.8 relay split at Texas Relays my senior year. Three years later, in 1972, I ran 4:02.1 in the Meet of Champions in Houston. I competed seriously through 1976 but never bettered that mark. Today I joke that not breaking 4:00 was the great failure of my life. In reality, trying to break it -- running track at OU -- led to the successes of my life.
Bill Blewett can be seen on the pole after completing the
first lap at the Big 8 outdoor meet a few years later. Kind of
a tight bunch.

Baltimore, MD
    On the same date in Baltimore, buddies Seagren and Pennel have a mutually bad night, vaulting only 15-6 to tie for fourth, a foot below Russian Gennadiy Bliznyetsov. Over half the crowd of 9,000 wait until 1:20 the next morning to see if Bliznyetsov clears a WR 16-11. Willie Davenport has been undefeated in the hurdles this indoor season. The streak ends this evening as “quick-legged” Richmond Flowers beats him by a tenth in 6.9, becoming only the second man to break 7.0 behind Hayes Jones' 6.8.

Albequerque, NM
    The following weekend, March 4-5, the track and field focus is on Albuquerque where the AAU championships are held at an elevation of 5100 feet. Jumpers take the limelight, as Bob Seagren becomes the first indoor 17 foot vaulter with his world record 17-0¾ clearance. Art Walker displays his unworldly triple jump talents by adding 13 inches to his own WR with a leap of 54-9½ . When it becomes time to vote for the outstanding performer award, Walker isn't considered, as the triple jump isn't listed as an official event, only an invitational one. Your reporter, for one is incensed and ready to start a movement to have this injustice corrected. As of this writing, Art is still alive. At least a co-most valuable performer award should be designed and presented to him half century after this obvious wrongdoing. Look for the forward thinking solution Once Upon A Time in the Vest proposes at the end of this article.

  Another highlight of the meet is the 2 mile relay, where a hastily assembled crew representing the 49er Track Club goes at it.   The team is made up of Dave Kemp Marines and L.A. State, Darryl Taylor formerly with Long Beach St., Dave Mellady, Marquette, University of Chicago TC, and Marines, and recently graduated Oklahoma State standout Dave Perry.  They ran in that order and layed down splits of  1:51.7, 1:51.8, 1:53.9, and 1:49.9 or 1:50.0 depending on whose watch you're looking at finishing in 7:27.  4 just off the WR.   More about this race will be discussed by that quartet in our next posting.
Perry, Mellady, Taylor, Kemp after that
2 mile relay win

    Remember when you were a sophomore in high school? The world was a confusing place and life moved at an incomprehensible speed. Apparently this is not the case for Bill Gaines, a tenth grader from Mullica Hills, New Jersey. The “sizzling sophomore prep”, running only his third indoor race with spikes, equals the 60 yard world record of 5.9 in his heat and wins the final in 6.0.

    Freshmen Willie Davenport and Richmond Flowers have a couple interesting match ups. Willie bests Richmond, 6.9 to 7.1, in the hurdles, but the positions are reversed in the 60 as Flowers is second behind Gaines in 6.0 with Davenport fourth in 6.1.

    Though John McGrath tops Dave Maggard 64-3 ½ to 63-0 ¾ in the shot, the significant story is that of the last place finisher, Parry O'Brien, who fails to make the finals after two fouls and a 56-8. The two time Olympic champion, whose career has been a model of consistency, has now experienced his lifetime best throw (64-0 on Feb. 19) and undoubtedly his only last place finish in a period of two weeks.

Detroit, MI
    A week passes and we are in Detroit for the NCAA championship, the second time it has been held in Cobo Arena. Kansas tops USC for the title 14-13, but it is 19 year old Martin McGrady of Central State whom the fans are talking about as they leave. McGrady set the 600 world record of 1:09.0 last month on Louisville's generous eight lap to the mile track, but today he is up against a strong field on an 11 lap to the mile track. McGrady leads through a 49.8 quarter and holds on to edge Iowa State's Steve Carson and St. John's Olympian, Tom Farrell, in 1:09.4. He returns to run the fastest relay leg of the meet, 46.9, but comes up three tenths of a second short of catching Morgan State in the mile relay.

    How can Jerry Lindgren winning the two mile be an upset? Here's how. Lindgren has raced this distance six times this season and won only once. In several races he has been badly beaten. On the other hand, Kansas' John Lawson, the reigning NCAA cross country champion, has lost only once. Lindgren shows no timidity, taking the lead early and sprinting away from Lawson on the final lap to win, 8:41.4 to 8:43.2.

Martin McGrady
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Martin McGrady (born April 20, 1946 in AkronOhio – died April 29, 2006)[1] was an American track and field athlete known primarily for running the now obsolete indoor 600 yard dash. Before Eamonn Coghlan, McGrady held the title of "Chairman of the Boards."[2] Sports Illustrated said "Martin McGrady doesn't run the 600, he owns it."[3] Running standard Olympic distances, McGrady "barely earned a footnote" but at the Imperial distance indoors, he was legendary.[4] The race at the 1970 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships where he set the World Record of 1:07.6 in the event is regarded as the best indoor race and the number 7 track and field competition of the 20th Century.[5] McGrady's record stood for 22 years until it was finally beaten by Mark Everett.[6]
By running the odd distance, McGrady did not face softer competition. Reigning Olympic Champions/World Record holders Ralph Doubell (800 m) and Lee Evans (400 m) wanted the good race against McGrady.[7][8] The racing rivalry between Evans and McGrady is still remembered. They are pictured at the finish of a 600 on the cover of the March 1968 issue of Track and Field News, of course with McGrady taking the victory over a leaning Evans and Jim Kemp.[9] McGrady won three straight National championships[10] and had three straight victories at the prestigious Millrose Games.
McGrady attended Garfield High School in Akron and studied Medical Technology at Central State University, where he was coached by David Youngblade. He set the first of three world records in the 600 while at Central State, just a week before winning the 1966 NCAA Men's Indoor Track and Field Championships. He also tied the world record in the 500 metres.
On October 8, 2010, Youngblade had the honor to induct McGrady into the Central State University Hall of Fame.[11]

Cleveland, OH
March 18 finds us still in the rust belt, specifically Cleveland, for the Knights of Columbus meet, where Bob Seagren ups his new PV record by half an inch to 17-0¾. Half an inch may not seem like much but it is significant in that it matches the best mark (outdoors) by his roommate, John Pennel. No more exclusive laundromat duty for Bob. John will now have to take his turn. Only Fred Hansen's 17-1, 17-2 and 17-4 outdoor clearances are better than the roommates'.

    Not all the news is indoor nor in the US. Jim Grelle travels to Australia to take a shot at Fred Dwyer's 5:10 American record at 2000 meters. With help from Laurie Toogood and the always available Ron Clarke, he succeeds in 5:07.4.

    Earlier Clarke established an Australian record at 5000 when he clocked 13:28.8. Your reporter can already hear readers cries of outrage. Yes, Ron has run faster than this twice. How can this be the Australian record? Calm yourselves and pay close attention. In order for a mark to be an Australian must be made on Australian soil. Now don't you feel funny objecting?

    A note in the On Your Marks column gives insight into what makes a champion. Cliff Cushman, the 400 intermediate hurdles silver medalist from the 1960 Rome Olympics has gained a bit of weight. He weighed 149 in 1960, recently ballooned to 192 and is now at 178. Though not able to compete because of his enlistment in the Air Force, Cushman recently measured a marathon course and ran it in 2:57. When at Kansas he ran a 9:09 two mile, so his plan to compete as a miler when he finishes his tour of duty as a pilot in Viet Nam, is not out of the question.

North Hollywood,  New York City, Lansing, Toronto
    It has been awhile since we reported on whether the Adidas ad featuring Cliff Severn Sporting Goods, 10636 Magnolia Boulevard in North Hollywood still decorates the last page of the magazine. Let's check. Yep, some things never change. The shoe being advertised is the Tokyo 64, “The world's lightest track shoe with DETACHABLE spikes, of course”. They can also be purchased at Carlsen Import Shoe Co. in New York City, Van Dervooort's Hardware in Lansing, Michigan and Adidas Sporting Goods Ltd. in Toronto.

    And now to the Art Walker problem. Fifty years have passed, but it is never too late to right a wrong. The first thought our staff came up with is to arouse the citizenry and storm the castle (AAU offices) with torches and pitchforks. Though this plan has obvious merit, we have decided to hold it in reserve. Instead we have determined to let the hearts and minds of our fellow track enthusiasts bring us together in a peaceful solution.

    Here's the plan. As so many of you know, we gather every Friday at the Dew Drop Inn for spirited discussions of T&F. Starting this week, Mabel will place a large pickle jar at the end of the bar for donations to the “Art Walker, Outstanding Performer 1966 AAU Indoor Track and Field Championships, March 4-5, Albuquerque, New Mexico Triple Jump World Record 54 feet 9½ inches” plaque. When we have gathered the required amount, we will have the plaque made and present it to Art. We know you feel as strongly about this as we do. Come early, drink heartily and open your hearts and wallets. Meeting time is 5:00 except on the third Friday of the month when Dewey gets his Wal-Mart greeter check. He can't get there 'til 5:30. As he always buys, we start a bit later on those evenings.

Seriously folks,  if any of you know the current whereabouts of Mr. Art Walker, former world record holder indoors in the Triple Jump, we would love  to have that information.  We would like to give him the recognition he deserves for that WR in Albequerque 50 years ago.  You can notify us at

Steve, Roy, and George

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