Friday, January 19, 2018

V 8 N. 4 July, 1967 part two

JULY 1967 part two


Never having been to Bakersfield, I decided to select a few pictures, more of the neo classic type from the city, and intersperse them throughout this posting. It in no way attempts to describe Bakersfield.  Additionally we have put an article about Jim Ryun's WR at the end from a local source which gives you more background about the race and about the current track and field climate in the city.  Roy has of course written his customarily marvelous account of the 1967 AAU meet.  Steve has done the proofreading, and my contribution has been slapping it all together and finding some pictures to highlight Roy's work.   

This week it has also been brought to our attention that our chief source of inspiration for this blog, Track and Field News, has announced that they have ceased to produce a hard copy magazine for sale by subscription or on newstands.  They will be electronic from this day forth.  In as much as we try to stay about fifty years behind T&FN on rehashing their previous work, this will limit us to only another fifty years of blogging should we live that long. 

Thanks too to all of you readers who supply us with material that should be put in this blog and for correcting the many errors caused by  fading memories, too much time in coffee shops or falling off ladders doing home repairs.

 Wishing you all a great New Year,

George Brose (Courtenay, British Columbia)
Roy Mason (Ukiah, California) 
Steve Price  (Piqua, Ohio)

    Bakersfield loves track and field. The two day meet, held oddly on Thursday and Friday, June 22 and 23, draws 19,000 spectators. Memorial Stadium on the campus of Bakersfield College is a technically superior facility. The track of crushed brick, clay and volcanic ash accounts for six meet records and one world record. A Fastrac runway is the author of another world record. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.
    In last week's NCAA meet at elevation in Provo, Jim Ryun had run to win and win easily he did in 4:03.7. On Thursday he won his semifinal in 4:07.5 but was undecided about trying to break his 3:51.3 world record set in Berkeley last season until 30 minutes before the final. He told Jim Grelle that he was going to set his own pace. “Fine”, Grelle replied, “See you later.”

    Once Tom Moore's starting pistol is fired, it's obvious Ryun is on a mission. He leads, but his first two laps are in 59.0 and 1:58.9, putting him 3.4 seconds down to his record pace of last year. With no help from the field, Ryun has to take matters into his own hands (or feet). The pace picks up to 58.5 on the third lap, but even so, he is at 2:57.4, still 2.1 seconds behind his record pace with only one more turn around the track left.

    The penultimate 220 passes in 27.4. T&FNews reports, “He strode steadily around the last curve, then lifted powerfully for the home stretch sprint.” He finishes in 26.3, probably passing the image of his record mile in the last 20 yards, to set a new record by two tenths with a 3:51.1.
Roscoe Divine
    There is Jim Ryun and then there is everyone else. Grelle takes second, a full five seconds behind in 3:56.1. The depth is exceptional. Dave Wilborn of Oregon is but a tenth back at 3:56.2. Tom Von Ruden takes fourth in 3:56.9 followed by Wilborn's Oregon teammate, Roscoe Divine, at 3:57.2 then there is a bit of a gap to Sam Bair's 3:58.7.
    Ryun is not the only one to achieve a goal by two tenths. Essex HS (NJ) senior Martin Liqouri becomes only the third high schooler to break four minutes with his 3:59.8, edging the second prep to join the four minute club, Tim Danielson, who clocks 4:00.6. Harry McCalla, 4:00.8 and Ed Dean, 4:04.5 round out the field.
    Wilborn and Devine reconfigure the Oregon mile record chart, passing Dyrol Burleson's 3:57.5 for the top two spots. Eight Ducks have now broken four minutes. The last two on the top ten list? Those would be Jim Grelle, 4:01.7 and Bill Dellinger, 4:04.6. It's tough to stay on top in Eugene.

ABC Sports Bakersfield Mile WR 1967 by Jim Beatty Jim McKay

Dick Railsback
    How often does an athlete morph from world record holder to #2 guy on his team in the event? That's what USC's Bob Seagren does Friday. Two weeks ago he had claimed the WR with a jump of 17-7. This evening he has his troubles early, missing once at 16-0 and again at 16-6. UCLA's Dick Railsback misses only once at 16-6, so when they both clear 17-0 on their first jumps, Railsback leads on misses. Seagren's teammate, Paul Wilson, after an initial miss, clears this height, positioning himself in third. At 17-4 Seagren clears on first attempt to take the lead, but only until Wilson also clears on his first jump to take the lead on misses (2 to 1). Railsback comes close on his second attempt but his third miss relegates him to third.

Paul Wilson
Bob Seagren
    Now it is the two SC sophomores with the bar set at a WR height 17-8. Seagren comes oh so close on his first try. Then it is Wilson's turn. At 10:41 PM, he plants his pole, hangs back while the pole bends fully, then zooms up and over. The record is his. In that moment Paul Wilson becomes the world record holder, the American record holder, the collegiate record holder and the meet record holder and Seagren slips to the second string guy at SC. Seagren comes even closer on his second jump, but his third miss eliminates him. Wilson has a couple near clearances at 18-0 ½ but after three misses, he still has a smile on his face.
Greene and Hines but not the race described
    The hundred sees Jim Hines leave Charlie Greene in the blocks once again. Greene rallies to pull even, but is out-leaned in a photo finish as they both run 9.3 into a 4 mph wind.
Tommie Smith
    This sets up a match between Tommie Smith and Hines in the 220. Hines is the only man to beat Smith at this distance, so when they line up for the final with Smith in lane eight and Hines in five, anticipation of a world record runs high. This is unrealistic for two reasons, the most important being that this is the third 220 of the evening. The other factor is that Smith has just started active duty at Fort Lewis, Washington and hasn't trained since before the NCAA meet.
    Still, no one has gone to the snack stand when the runners settle into their blocks. Smith is able to get a good look at Hines before the runners enter the straight. Down by a yard at this point, the world record holder goes to his Tommie-Jet gear and pulls away for a convincing 20.4 to 20.6 triumph.

Ed Burke
    At the start of the day Hal Connolly holds the American record in the hammer throw at 233-9. Ed Burke's third throw of the day lands 235-8 from the circle and a new king is crowned. Burke is now the American record holder and the second farthest of all time, behind only Gyula Zsivotzky of Hungary who has thrown 241-11.    
    Burke felt this had been a long time coming as he had thrown 240' in practice, but as we know practice and competition are not the same. On his first throw in the finals he adds three inches, nice, but not the sense of ecstasy the previous throw produced.

    If those three inches aren't much, half an inch is even less, but this day it decides the long jump. Muir High of Pasadena student Jerry Proctor leaps 26-0¾ on his first jump. Ralph Boston opens with 26-0¼ . Neither improve and Proctor has beaten his idol for the first time, setting a high school record in the doing. Bob Beamons' 25-8¾ gives him third and puts him on the US team to face the British Commonwealth next month.

    The US discus entries in British Commonwealth meet almost certainly will be the big three: Al Oerter, Jay Silvester and Rink Babka. Nobody told Gary Carlsen that he didn't have a chance. He had thrown well early in the year only to slump badly. Last week he managed only 186-4 in losing to Randy Matson in the NCAA meet. A first throw of 188-0 leaves him in fourth behind Silvester 193-4, Babka 192-9 and Oerter 189-4. The situation changes in the second round. Silvester fouls but Babka and Oerter improve to 193-4 and 193-2, so now the big three are separated by only two inches. Carlsen surprises them all with 196-6 to take the lead. Still no one gives him a chance to win.     

     In the third round that changes. Carlsen cranks out 205-10 to stretch his lead to 12 feet. Silvester improves to 195-9, but ten feet is ten feet. Babka is third at 195-2. Three time Olympic champion Al Oerter doesn't improve and will be staying home this summer.
Ricky Ubrina
now Federal Judge Urbina (ret'd.)
    When the half milers line up for the final, many of the big threats have been weeded out . Olympians Morgan Groth and Tom Farrell, Preston Davis, Dave Patrick, Ricky Urbina, Dave Buck and the Perry Brothers, Dave and John, have been eliminated in the heats or semis. This leaves Wade Bell of Oregon, Dennis Carr of SC and Larry Kelly of Tennessee, who finished in that order in last week's NCAA, as the favorites.

Wade Bell
    Kelly leads through the opening lap in 52.4 with Bell in fifth and Carr not far back. As the field enters the backstretch, Bell moves to the outside and Carr goes with him. Last week Carr had stayed off the pace until too late. His finishing speed was impressive when he sprinted into second, three tenths behind Bell. Would he strike first and put Bell in the position of chasing him? No, midway down the backstretch, Bell lets fly. Carr can't respond and in an instant it's over. Bell powers home in 1:46.1, the third fastest 880 ever run. Kelly and Ted Nelson are shoulder to shoulder around the curve in the battle for second. Kelly begins to pull away, but not decisively enough to hold off Carr who finally comes to life, passing Kelly just before the tape as both finish in personal bests of 1:47.1.
    The high jump is decided on misses. At 7-0 ¼ Otis Burrell clears on his first try, Ed Caruthers on his second and Clarence Johnson on is third. No one goes higher, so they finish in that order.

    In last week's NCAA meet Randy Matson dropped his shot 3½ feet farther than Neal Steinhauer. This day the margin is cut in half with Matson throwing 66-11 to Steinhauer's 65-5 ¾.

Lou Scott (R) in this Detroit Free Press photo
from 1961 when he edged Dick Sharkey (L)  of Redford HS in
the Detroit city championships.  4:13.2 to 4:13.4 two of the
fastest HS miles at that time.  The record was still held
by Dyrol Burleson.  Sharkey would be an All American at Michigan St. and
Scott would win many distance races in his career including a silver at the
Pan Am Games and an Olympic berth in 1968 in the 5000. This information was
collected from Jul-Aug 2012 Michigan Runner. Article by Ed Kozloff.
    Lou Scott and Gerry Lindgren break away from the field in the three mile. With two laps left, Scott holds a five yard lead. Lindgren, who won the three and six in last week's NCAA meet, has been having stomach problems for some time but he closes at the gun and runs 58.8 on the final go round to win in 13:10.6. Scott is second in 13:12.4 and Van Nelson third in 13:16.8. 
Van Nelson
Bob Day, just 30 yards back of the leaders at the start of the final lap, jogs home in 75 for fourth in 13:30.6
Tracy Smith #398
    Apparently Nelson, Ron Larrieu and Tracy Smith share the thought that if the three mile was a good time, the six mile will be twice as much fun, for they are back on the track Friday. Smith pushes the pace through mile splits of 4:279:10 and 14:04. Larrieu takes over but the pace continues to lag as they hit the four mile mark in 19:00. In the next mile Tom Laris and Van Nelson move to the front and, one by one, the lead pack of seven breaks up. Five miles is hit in 23:51. Now it is just Laris with Nelson right behind. Nelson strikes on the final straight, pulling away to win by four tenths in 28:18.8. Larrieu is third in 28:31.2. Smith places 9th but deserves kudos for even showing up, let alone running two races, as he has been suffering from the flu.

    Once again Lee Evans proves he is the best 440 yard
Lee Evans

runner in the world not named Tommie Smith. His strong finish allows him to rally from eight yards down entering the straight to win in 45.3 over Vince Matthews and Jim Kemp whose 45.6 and 45.7 put them on the US team next month.
Vince Matthews
    Look at your little finger. The distance from the knuckle to the cuticle of your fingernail is what separates first from second in the triple jump. Charlie Craig scores his first win over US record holder Art Walker, 53-1½ to 53-0¼ . Darrell Horn keeps Henry Jackson out of the Commonwealth meet by the same margin, 51-4¼ to 51-3.

Dr. Conrad Nightengale
    With two laps left in the steeplechase, Pat Traynor pulls away easily for a 8:42.0 victory. Bob Price challenges Conrad Nightengale for second on the backstretch, but the Kansas State star responds after the water jump to hold off Price by a second in 8:43.8 as both record PRs. 

Pat Traynor
John Mason is fourth in 8:48.0. The officials refuse to cut Ray Barrus a break. Although given credit for initiative, he is disqualified for his unique circumvention of the water jump as he runs around it instead of over it. Wonder if the thought, “Maybe nobody noticed” ran through his mind.
Delmon McNab
    No one “just missed” making the team in the javelin. LSU's NCAA champ, Delmon McNab, wins easily at 268-3 followed by Gary Stenlund 261-11 and Frank Covelli 260-9. Fourth is Larry Stuart at 242-0.

Richmond Flowers
Earl McCullough
    The wind giveth and the wind taketh away. Well, that's not entirely true. If you run into the wind is an obvious handicap. Run with the wind (of 4.473 mph or greater) and your time will be faster, but the number is followed by a “w” because it is wind-aided. The high hurdlers are running into a gale of 3 mph. This may not seem like much, but likely it keeps Willie Davenport from equaling the world record. He trails NCAA champ Earl McCullough until the seventh hurdle when he takes over and wins by two yards in 13.3, a tenth off the WR. McCullough 13.5 and Richmond Flowers 13.6 will join Willie in taking on the Brits next month.
Willie Davenport

By participating in the 1980 bobsleigh competition, Willie became the first African American to compete in the Winter Olympics for the USA.

Davenport was a U.S. Army private at the time of his first Olympic participation, he was a Colonel in the United States Army National Guard at the time of his death. He died of a heart attack at age 59 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on June 17, 2002.

    Imagine if you will, that you are on the committee planning the meet schedule. Only semis and a final will be needed in the 440 yard hurdles. Here is the question for the deep thinkers who comprise our readership. Would you put both races on the same night? Yep, that's what happens. Nearly all 440 hurdlers come from the 220 – 440 pool and move up to the event. Not Ron Whitney. He has a half mile background (1960 Golden West 880 champ), with the result that races less than two hours apart don't evoke sweaty palms. This is an advantage, but under different circumstances he would be still be the favorite. 
    To no one's surprise, Ron runs 50.3 to win. The surprise comes in the form of Russ Rogers for whom the schedule has to be a huge disadvantage. Russ doesn't have even a 220-440 background. He is a true high hurdler making the big jump to the intermediates. He challenges Whitney all the way and finishes less than a yard back in 50.4. American University's Andy Bell outlasts Bob Steele by three tenths with his 50.6 and will be taking on the Brits July 8-9 in LA.

    A reminder. We will be meeting at the Dew Drop Inn Friday at 6 PM. The subject will be ranking the all-time top ten left-handed javelin throwers. Come late and you're buying the second round.

We thought we would add this fine article about Jim Ryun's mile written by Catherine Merlo for on April 26, 2013.  Catherine is listed as Western and Online editor for Farm Journal Media and a trustee of Kern County Museum. ed.

Those who were there still remember the buzz that whipped through the crowd that night at Bakersfield College's Memorial Stadium.
It was June 23, 1967. The world's sporting spotlight had zeroed in on 20-year-old Jim Ryun, the University of Kansas runner who had been setting mile records -- and breaking the four-minute mark -- since high school. Already, Ryun had competed in the 1964 Olympics and had been on the cover of Sports Illustrated four times. The magazine had even named Ryun its Sportsman of the Year in 1966.
And now he was here in the national Amateur Athletic Union men's track and field championships, looking to set a new world record on Memorial Stadium's dirt track.
Broadcaster Jim McKay, announcing for ABC's Wide World of Sports, was there. So were members of the news media from around the world, including Sports Illustrated and the Associated Press. Reporting for The Bakersfield Californian was sportswriter Phil Klusman. All were aware that, with the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City just a year away, every track and field contender would be pushing for a world-class performance.
A crowd of 11,600 fans filled the stands of the 12-year-old stadium. They were not only eager to see if the lean, dark-haired Ryun could break his own 3:51.3 world mile record, set a year earlier. They had also come to watch the meet's other top-ranked athletes, including future Olympic competitor Marty Liquori, a high school senior who had already broken the four-minute mile, and the University of Southern California's Paul Wilson, who would set a new world pole vault record of 17'8" that night.
The crowd's anticipation rose as the mile runners stepped up to the starting line. Almost from the moment the starting pistol fired, Ryun took the lead. He sprinted as though he had only a single lap -- not four -- to run. By Ryun's third time around the track, he had opened up a 15-yard lead over the other nine runners.
"Ryun was so dominant, everyone in the stadium was on their feet," remembers Larry Knuth, a longtime Los Angeles track and field coach who was there that night. "People were going nuts."
By his fourth and final lap, Ryun was so far ahead of the pack, the announcer described him as running the race "all by himself."
The crowd roared as Ryun pounded for home. He crossed the finish line 40 yards ahead of the second-place runner, setting a world record of 3:51.1. (Initially called at 3:50.9 in film footage of the race, Ryun's final time was recorded, under meet rules, at the slowest of the three stop watches that clocked the race.)
Cheering from the sidelines were Ryun's parents and U.S. congressman and former Olympic champion Bob Mathias. Also watching Ryun's thrilling victory from near the finish line was Bakersfield College head track and field coach Bob Covey. He had helped organize the event along with Gil Bishop, who was Bakersfield College's athletic director and meet announcer.
"After the results were announced, (Bishop) asked me to ask Ryun to run a victory lap," recalls Covey. "Ryun did, and it was to a standing ovation of the 12,000 fans -- and the first victory lap ever in Memorial Stadium."
Covey considers Ryun's race that night to be "the most famous and memorable performance in the history of Memorial Stadium." Astonishingly, all top seven places in that night's race broke the four-minute mark, spurred by Ryun's blistering pace. His 3:51.1 world record would stand unbroken for eight years.
Ryun would go on to greater glory. A few weeks after his Bakersfield run, he set a 1,500-meter world record in Los Angeles. At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Ryun won a silver medal in the 1500 meters, calling it "one of the highest achievements of my life."
He later became a U.S. congressman from Kansas, serving from 1996 to 2007. For the last 40 years, he has directed a running camp, working with young athletes from all over the U.S. Today, at 66, he still remembers his race in Bakersfield.
"That was an unusual race because we had all had to run a preliminary race the night before to qualify," says Ryun. "We weren't completely rested."
Starting from the inside lane in the June 23 finals, he remembers having two choices to avoid the crush of the runners' pack: take the lead or slip to the back. Ryun chose to move into the lead. As the race progressed, "I was totally stunned that no one tried to challenge me," he recalls. "When I finished, it felt like the easiest race I had ever run."
The Bakersfield meet continues to hold a special place for Ryun, who ran hundreds of races during his running career. "There are a handful of runs that define you, and that race was one that defined who I was," he says.
Ryun's record-setting night took place during what many consider the golden era of world-class amateur track and field. Memorial Stadium was often center stage, with a track that was considered among the nation's best. From 1956-1979, Memorial Stadium held more national track and field meets than any other city in America, Covey says.
Yet the heyday of those high-caliber meets at Bakersfield College began to dim in the early 1980s as track and field competition transitioned from an amateur to a professional sport. Bids to win contracts to host the meets skyrocketed, as did athletes' appearance fees.
"Bakersfield College just couldn't come up with the $50,000, $75,000, $100,000 it took to run a track meet of that caliber," says Covey, who retired in 2005 after 42 years as Bakersfield College's head track and field coach. He is writing a history of the school's athletic program.

Memorial Stadium hasn't held a major international track and field meet in more than 30 years. If Bakersfield College can raise $1.5 million to completely refurbish its track, Covey believes the big meets could return. Until then -- and maybe for always -- Ryun's 1967 record-breaking mile run remains a pinnacle in athletic history and a justifiably proud episode in the city where it happened.


   This was a wonderful addition to the blog with a team effort by all three of you.  1967 was my first year after college following two years of running, so I knew of all the people mentioned in this article.  What a nice job you guys did in reporting after the fact.  I really enjoyed the pictures and post cards of Bakersfield, and enjoyed reading comments from their coach, Bob Covey, whom I met at IU because he was a good friend of Sam Bell.  It just made me feel good to read about my heroes during my introductory days of this sport.  Thanks, Bill Schnier

George, this is one of the best!   This is going out to a lot of people in my world who probably knew about this meet.  A lot of guys I competed against in high school.   

Great one!


1 comment:

Bob Roncker said...

That was a real treat reliving the 1967 AAU Meet. During the summer of 1967, my 1957 Ford Fairlane 500, with nearly 100,000 miles already logged on the odometer, carried me on a solo track odyssey, which started in Cincinnati. First we visited Sioux Falls, South Dakota for the NAIA Championship Meet. That was followed by the NCAAs in Provo and ultimately the AAU Championships in Bakersfield. Reading about Ryun's race revives fond memories. Thank you for the wonderful blog.

V 8 N. 52 Some Kids are Really Showing the Veterans a New Twist on the Sport

Youth is having its day.    Mondo  Duplantis in the polevault is setting the world on its ear with his elite jumping.  Now the Ingebrigtsen...