Thursday, June 28, 2018
V 8 N. 41 JANUARY, 1968
Remember the January issues of Track and Field News back in the day? They were filled with the previous year's stats. They were objective. You could see who ran the world's 44th fastest 400, who had the 36th best pole vault and the 18th farthest discus throw. They were also subjective. The editors listed the top ten in each event, not by time, but by yearlong performance, leaving you with quandaries such as how could Franz-Josef Kemper, with four losses and a best of 1:46.2, be ranked #1 in the 800 ahead of Wade Bell who lost only twice and had a best of 1:45.0? Then you studied their racing history and discovered they had met once with Kemper the decisive winner. Still, if you were to sit across the table from D. H. Potts or R. L. Quercetani at the Dew Drop Inn, you could put up a spirited case for Bell.
But you weren't sitting at the Dew Drop. Remember where you were sitting when you pored over the annual issue? That's right, you were on the pot. The January issue was always so full of stats that you kept it on the bathroom counter for easy access.
The cover of the annual issue always had a facial of the Athlete of the Year. The AOY for 1967 was Jim Ryun. Not much argument there. He had broken the world records in the 1500 (3:33.1) and mile (3:51.1) and, save for a second behind Tracy Smith in the Italy-Spain-US triangular in his first attempt at 5000, was undefeated.
Athlete of the Year awards were presented at several levels in both track and field events. If the AOY was in track, the top performer in a field event was listed as the AOY in the “other division” and visa-versa. Got it? Okay, here we go.
The other division for the World AOY was Randy Matson who put the shot 71-5 ½ to up his own WR by ten inches. This was a throw of 2 ½ feet beyond history's next best, Neil Steinhauer. Not surprisingly, the same two were US and collegiate athletes of the year. The JC AOYs were miler Neil Duggan of Hancock JC (and Great Britain) and vaulter Paul Heglar of Pasadena CC. The college freshman of the year were big time. Oregon State's Willie Turner tied for the fastest 100 meters of the year – 10.0 – and sits second on the world list for '67 and all time, a tenth behind Tommie Smith at 20.1. Clarence Johnson of Cal took the field event AOY by high jumping 7-3¼. How good was that? How about '67's best mark and fourth on the all time list. High school honors went to Jerry Proctor, who long jumped 26-0¾, with Marty Liguori taking the “other division” for his 3:59.8 mile.
The indoor AOY went to Bob Seagren for his 17-3 WR vault with Tommie Smith taking honors for on the track for his 46.2 400 which chopped nine tenths off the world record.
Not surprisingly, the Outstanding Performance honor went to Ryun for taking down Herb Elliot's 1500 world record by an amazing two and a half seconds. Other performances receiving votes were Matson's 70-5 ½ – 213-9 shot - discus double and Smith's 44.8 WR 400.
And now to report on what little action there has been up to mid- January. Indoors the stars have been Texas El Paso sophomore Bob Beamon and Southern Illinois grad George Woods. Beamon won the long jump at the Los Angeles Invitational at 26-1 night then boarded a plane for the NAIA meet in Kansas City. Even with no sleep and a short runway, he got his first 27 footer, winning at 27-1.
On the 1967 shot put lists Woods ranked 13th in the world and 6th in the US with a best of 62-8¼, so his 66-5¾ win in the LA Invitational was a shock. But it wasn't the event's biggest surprise. That would be Randy Matson coming up 11 feet short of his world record with a throw of 60-4. Bet he improves in our February report.
Jan. 1968 was my first issue of Track & Field News. Sure had 50 years of enjoyable reading and memorization. Currently printing out copies of new issues to send to my technically challenged brother.
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