Friday, May 6, 2016

V 6 N. 32 May, 1966

MAY 1966

    Bob Seagren, Tommie Smith and Jim Ryun, oh my. We've got the Kansas, Drake, Penn and Coliseum Relays, the Mt. SAC Invitational and “the greatest performance in the history of track and field” for you. Curl up in your recliner with a cup of hot cocoa and we'll tell you all about it.
  Kansas Relays
  April 21-23 finds us in Lawrence, Kansas for the Kansas Relays. On the first day Jim Ryun gives the crowd a reason to come back the next two days when he anchors the Kansas frosh distance medley with a 3:59.0 mile and a 53.6 last lap. On the 23rd here he is again, this time in the Glenn Cunningham Mile.
A faster pace puts him at 3:00.7 at the 1320 but leaves plenty in the tank for a 55.1 finish and a collegiate record of 3:55.8, breaking Bob Day's 3:56.4 set last year. You would think that would be enough, but Jim is a team guy. He rounds out his day with a 47.0 anchor on the Kansas frosh mile relay team. Jim turns 19 next week.
Penn Relays
    Marks at the Penn Relays the following week are depressed by the rain. Villanova sophomore, Dave Patrick provides excitement with a come from behind 4:04.6 mile in the distance medley to allow the Wildcats to take that trophy home.

Drake Relays
    On the same days, 1076 miles west, the sun is shining in Des Moines for the Drake Relays. Texas Southern upsets arch rival Southern in the 440 relay (40.2 to 40.6) but that's the only time Southern relay teams don't breast the tape. They come within a tenth of a second of Abilene Christian's WR in the 880 relay in 1:22.6 then add the mile (3:07.4), two mile (7:3l.2) and sprint medley (3:19.2) to their win total.
    The 480 yard shuttle hurdle relay isn't run often but this day's edition must be burned forever in the memory of Nebraska's Ray Harvey. Running the anchor with a two yard lead over Michigan State, he hits the last hurdle and goes down. MSU wins and sets a collegiate record of 57.4.
    Saint Cloud State may have found a distance runner in Van Nelson. The sophomore leaves two mile winner Oscar Moore ten seconds in arrears in winning the three mile in 13:29.2, then 19 hours later takes the six mile in 28:48.6, the fastest in the nation this year.

Mt. Sac  Relays
 Closing our eyes, clicking our heels together three times and repeating the phrase, “There's no place like Mt. SAC” and suddenly here we are on the very same weekend at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, California.
    The running highlights are pretty much confined to “watch Tommie Smith on the anchor leg”. The San Jose junior puts on a jaw dropping exhibition of anchor leg running on both the 440 and 880 relays. He misses catching the Southern California Striders by a yard in the 440 but his acceleration stuns the fans. In the 880 relay he comes off the curve a yard behind USC's Fred Kuller then opens a staggering seven yards by the tape. In the world of sprinting at this moment there is Tommie Smith and then there is everybody else.
    The great marks are in the field events. USC's Gary Carlsen pulls the upset of the day, topping three time Olympic discus champion Al Oertner 195-0 to 194-8.
Dr Gary Carlsen,
now a dental surgeon in Huntington Beach , CA
would go on to make the US team in Mexico City
Ed Burke throws the hammer 223-11 to beat Hal Connolly by five and a half feet, only his second victory over the former Olympic champ and long time world record holder.
    Art Walker's 53-10 ¼ triple jump misses his American record by a mere ¾ inch. Ralph Boston takes the long jump at 26-4¼, but is pressed, as Gail Hopkins opens his outdoor season with a leap of 26-2 ¾ .
    John Pennel beats Sam Kirk in the vault on misses at 17-0 but it was Kirk who comes oh so close to clearing 17-5 and taking Bob Seagren's world record.
    The high jump provides a “how many times have you seen this?” moment. Terry Doe of San Jose State places ninth with a clearance of 6-10, the same height as the winner, Mike Lange of Arizona State. Something about attempts and misses.

Southwest Conference Championships
    The next weekend the Southwest Conference Championship, held in Austin, Texas, provides Texas fans with plenty to cheer about. Longhorns Richard Romo and Preston Davis take the mile and half mile in 4:05.9 and 1:48.9 and teammate Gil Smith wins both sprints, allowing Texas to upset Rice 58-55. If Romo's name sounds familiar it might be because he ran a sub four minute mile that was the school record for 42 years and has been the president of the University of Texas at San Antonio for the last 16 years.

Quantico Relays
    Kentucky State's Jim Kemp displays his versatility at the Quantico Relays, running a 1:49.4 anchor on the sprint medley (to beat Villanova), a 220 leg on the half mile relay and a 45.9 anchor on the mile relay as the Thoroughbreds win all three.
Mike Manley

Mike Manley last year in Eugene with your intrepid reporters

Mike Manley wins the steeplechase in a nation leading 8:52.4. Pat Pomphrey of Tennessee holds off Leon Coleman of Winston-Salem to win the high hurdles by a tenth in 13.7. Charlie Mays wins the long jump at 25-11 ½.

San Jose State All Comers Meet
And now for what Track and Field News terms “the greatest performance in all track and field”. Surprisingly it doesn't happen in a major competition, but a simple all comers meet. Perhaps “simple” is a misleading adjective as the meet takes place on the campus of San Jose State University, a major power in collegiate track. All the t's have been crossed and all the i's have been dotted as far as possible world record recognition is concerned.
    Although the 200 meters has been run on a curve for some time now, the straightaway 200 is still a ratified record race. That record is 20.0, set in 1956 by Dave Sime and equalled in 1962 by Frank Budd. It stood until the afternoon of May 7 when Tommie Smith settled in his blocks. Nineteen and one half seconds after the gun is fired the names of Sime and Budd are erased from the record books. The Portuguese Scoring Tables are consulted. Not only is this the greatest sprint race of all time, but it rates higher than Randy Matson's 70-7 shot put or Ron Clarke's 27:39.4 10,000.
Tommie Smith besting Lee Evans in 44.8
Smith comments, “I thought I had a good chance for the record, but it was my third race of the day and I hadn't concentrated on it or thought about it a lot.”
Coach Bud Winter says Tommie's increase in stride as the race progresses is significant. He has measured his stride from 120 yards out. How could this be possible? Here's how. It is a dirt track and no one has been permitted to step on the track in that portion of lane four all day. As soon as the race is over the tape measure comes out. His stride went from 8'5” at 120 yards to 8'7” at 200 to 8'9” for the last three strides.
    As other worldly as Tommie is as a sprinter, maybe this isn't his best event. He dabbles in the long jump, jumping a couple times in a few meets just to fill the time. His best mark is 25-11, but actually 26-10 from where he took off. Les Bond, his teammate and a 25-5 and 52-4 horizontal jumper says, “If Tommie concentrated on the long jump, he would certainly do 27 feet soon and 28 feet sometime.” Tommie's reply: “Les is a good friend.” Then he added, “But I do think it is possible”.
    As it stands at the moment, Tommie won't be entered in the AAU Nationals or any international meets this summer. He is committed to a summer camp in conjunction with his ROTC program. It begins the day after the NCAA meet.
    Note: In the Letters to the Editor column, reader George P. Meade vividly supports T&FNews' claim. “Tommie Smith's 19.5 200/220 seems valid with six watches showing 19.4 to 19.6 You advisedly class it as 'The greatest effort ever' in Track Newsletter, May 12. In one race Smith cut the furlong time by as much as all the great sprinters have been able to do in 40 years (Ronald Locke, 20.5 in 1926). In that 40 years, starting blocks have come into use and tracks have greatly improved.” Well put, George.

Coliseum Relays

John Tushaus

    Six days later and 400 miles south we are at the Coliseum Relays where fans see a world record and two American records. We should probably amend that to “a few fans”, as one AR is produced at 6:47 PM, before a mere thousand spectators. Arizona's John Tushaus, the NCAA champion, opens the javelin throw with a 241-10 effort. Nice throw, John, but no one is excited. That changes on his second throw which just keeps going and going and going....until it lands 284 feet away, an American record. Only three men have thrown further. He fouls on his next throw and, pretty sure he has won the event, retires for the evening.
 As great as Tushaus' throw is, it may not be the best field event performance of the evening. Randy Matson is back in form. He disposes of the possibility of a challenge by Neil Steinhauer with an opening throw of 69-2, a mark that only he has surpassed and then only twice. Steinhauer's 64-6, betters the 64-2¾ personal best of.....wait for it......Perry O'Brien, who demonstrates the possibility of potential in this event. Once the shot put competition is disposed of, Matson wins the discus at 195-11, especially impressive as he beats all the country's best throwers save the absent Al  Oerter.  Likely they will tangle soon.

The real fun takes place on the track. Four half milers at USC think they have a chance at Oklahoma State's 7:18.4 world record in the two mile relay. The competition – Texas and Villanova – is there and so is the tradition. The Coliseum Relays have produced a 2 mile relay world record four times in the last twelve years.

    John Link's 1:51.1 leg gives the Trojans a two yard lead on Villanova with Texas ten back on the first leg. The Wildcats and Longhorns close on Bruce Bess, but with 220 left, the Trojan accelerates and hands off with a nine yard lead after a 1:49.7 clocking. Dave Buck opens up twenty yards en route to a 1:48.8 split. But here comes Richard Romo of Texas, “the once great mile prospect now crippled with speed killing tendon injury”, who closes the margin to the original nine yards and moves the Longhorns past Villanova with the fastest non-anchor leg of 1:48.2.
Preston Davis
Ricardo Romo

Dave Patrick
Dennis Carr
 The record  is within sight. But here comes Villanova's Dave Patrick who passes Texas anchor, Preston Davis and pulls within six yards of SC's Dennis Carr, before Carr's steady pace pays off with a 1:47.8 split and gives the Trojans a 7:17.4 world record, a full second better than Okie State who set the mark two years earlier in this very meet. Davis rallies to give the Longhorns second in 7:18.6, two tenths ahead of Villanova.

As good as the two mile relay was, the open two mile may be even better. Let's see who is on the starting line. There is Bob Day. Next to him are former Oregon stars Dyrol Burleson and Jim Grelle. Here is the fast improving Tracy Smith. Nineteen year old Jim Ryun is waiting patiently for the competitors to be called to the starting line. Most of these guys are very effective wait and kick types. Someone has to set the pace. Not to worry, also in the mix is Kip Keino. No one in the stands is leaving to get popcorn.
    Will Keino set a fast enough pace to burn off America's four fastest milers? Well, sorta,, not really. He leads through 3 laps in 3:09.3 with everyone in close attendance. The mile is reached in 4:13.6. Keino opens up a four yard lead on the next lap (5:17.8) but Day, Grelle, Burleson and Ryun, in that order, aren't going away. Smith has fallen back eight yards from Ryun. Keino allows the pace to drop to 66.4 on the sixth lap (6:24.2) and Grelle is on his heels followed by Ryun, Day and Burleson. A hundred yards later Day is on the infield grass writhing in pain. “I was feeling great. I was just ready to go. Something snapped in my right heel tendon. It just popped.”
    Day is gone and shortly thereafter Burleson falls off the pace. Now it is Keino, Grelle and Ryun. No time is given for the seventh lap but it had to be in the 64-65 range, playing into the hands of the big kickers. Keino has to drop Ryun and Grelle before it becomes flat out sprint. With 500 to go, he throws his orange cap to the infield and it is on. Ryun says he was thinking, “If he can keep up the kick from here in, he can have it.” Keino is flat out, but there isn't enough gas in the tank. Ryun strikes in the middle of the final curve. Grelle goes with him. Keino is done.
    With forty yards to go, Grelle pulls to within two feet of Ryun, but can gain no more. Their final lap is 56. 4. Both are credited with an American record of 8:25.2. No time is given for Keino, but his last lap is 61.5. Rudimentary math puts him at 8:30, give or take a few tenths. Smith passes Burleson for fourth as they finish in 8:37.4 and 8:39.6.
    The mile relay is significant as UCLA ends California's 34 meet winning streak in convincing fashion, 3:06.9 to 3:09.1.
    A day passes and we find ourselves 225 miles north on highway 99 in Ratcliffe Stadium on the campus of Fresno City College for the venerable West Coast Relays.
    The reward for driving our VW bus that far is Bob Seagren's world record vault of 17-5 ½ which removes Fred Hansen's name from the record books by 1½ inches. The 19 year old “ineligible Glendale JC sophomore” then tries the highest height ever attempted, 17-8. Doesn't happen, but we have the rest of the season to anticipate.
    Before Seagren's heroics, it appeared that Art Walker had the athlete of the meet award wrapped up. His 54-4 triple jump is an American record and tenth all time, a mere six inches out of second on the list.
    Remember those SC guys who set the two mile record last night? Well, they are at it again. Unfortunately Texas and Villanova aren't here to spur them on as Bruce Bess (1:49.7 last night) rips off a 1:47.8 on the second leg to put the Trojans in great shape to upgrade their record, but the competition is lacking. Dennis Carr (1:47.8 the previous evening) can manage only 1:49.6 on the anchor and the guys fall two tenths short of their Coliseum mark. Still and all, not a bad weekend for the cardinal and gold.
    As good as Seagren, Walker and the SC relay team are, the crowd has come to see Tommie Smith who has grown up in Lemoore, just 30 miles down the road. Smith will be running three relays. He anchors the San Jose State team to victory in the 440 relay, making up a deficit of eight yards on UCLA and New Mexico. The crowd anticipates his efforts in the 880 and mile relays but is disappointed as injuries to teammates cause the Spartans to scratch these events.

Big Eight Championship
    On the same weekend in Columbia, Missouri, Nebraska has a memorable Big Eight Championship meet. Led by Charlie Greene, who takes the sprints in 9.3 and 20.8, the Cornhuskers win their first league title in 16 years.
Charlie Greene

Boxed in the 100?  
Many of our readers are long time track guys, greatly experienced, tellers of great track and field stories. Okay, let's try this on for size. How many times have you seen someone lose a 100 yard dash because he was boxed?   See answer below?

Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association

     Return with us now to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association meet in Petersburg, Virginia on this same weekend. Ed Roberts of North Carolina Central has won the 100 and 220 the previous three years. Doesn't happen this year.  For some unexplained reason, there are nine runners in the 100. That wouldn't be unusual except that there are eight lanes. Roberts is “boxed” and drops out so that he won't be injured. You can't make up stuff like this.

Northern Division Championships

    One might think that this weekend was already packed full with great achievements, but wait, there is one more. Gerry Lindgren has been down with the flu for the past month. He returned to competition last week with an 8:39.6 two mile, but that performance gave no indication what was to happen this week in the Northern Division Championships. On a cold, windy Saturday afternoon in Seattle, the Washington State sophomore passes two miles in 8:37 and keeps going for another mile, breaking his own American record of 13:04.2 and coming within six tenths of a second of Ron Clarke's three mile world record, clocking 12:53.0.

Pacific Athletic Conference Championships
    Another week has past and we are now at Stanford for the Pacific Athletic Conference Championship. UCLA doesn't have the injured Bob Day, but it matters little as the Bruins crush USC and defending NCAA champion Oregon 80-44-37. On this day Gerry Lindgren is feeling “tired all the way” but manages to take the three mile easily in 13:12.8 over UCLA's Geoff Pyne (13:20.6) and Oregon's Kenny Moore (13:26.2). The night before Moore took the steeplechase in 8:49.4 to become the favorite for the NCAA title. Teammate Bruce Mortensen also shaded nine minutes, finishing second in 8:59.8.

A Small Meet at Oxy
    A performance worth noting at a meet at Occidental College on that same day is a 45.2 anchor by Lee Evans of San Jose City College. We'll be watching to see if he develops.

We'll close with these signs of the time. The California Relays gifts winners of events – including all members of a relay team – a choice of a watch or a $75 radio. Wonder if anyone has one of those radios sitting on a mantle piece right now....... You may obtain sequence photos of technique of Jozeph Schmidt and Janis Lusis by sending a self-addressed envelope with ten cents postage to Dick Bank, 292 S. La Cienaga Blvd., Beverly Hills, Calif. 90211.

    Any of the above can and likely will be discussed when we gather at 6 o'clock Friday at the Dew Drop Inn. Last to arrive buys the second pitcher. Don't be late.

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