Walt Murphy is one of the finest track statisticians that I know. Walt does This Day in Track & Field History, an excellent daily service that provides true track geek stories about our sport. You can check out the whole service (we just use excerpts) for FREE with a free one-month trial subscription! (email Walt at: WaltMurphy44@gmail.com) for the entire daily service. We will post a few historical moments each day, beginning February 1, 2024.

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By Walt Murphy’s News and Results Service (wmurphy25@aol.com), used with permission.

This Day in Track & Field–April 27

 

 

1900—Alvin Kraenzlein’s World (and Relays) Record of 24-3 ½ (7.40) in the Long Jump at the 1899 Relays didn’t last long, with Syracuse’s Myer Prinstein winning at Penn with a leap of 24-7 ¼ (7.50). Kraenzlein finished 2nd with a jump of 23-2 ½ (7.07). Prinstein would win the gold medal in the Triple Jump at the Paris Olympics, while Kraenzlein would win 4 gold medals. Prinstein would win both horizontal jumps at the 1904 Olympics.

The NYAC’s Dick Sheldon won the Shot Put for the 2nd year in a row and was the 1st winner of the Discus. He went on to win the gold medal in the Shot Put in Paris (and bronze in the Discus).

Princeton’s Alexander Coleman was the first winner of the Pole Vault at Penn (10-10[3/30]).

Results

Sheldon: https://www.olympedia.org/athletes/79029#

Prinstein: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myer_Prinstein

https://www.olympedia.org/athletes/78917

Kraenzlein: https://www.olympedia.org/athletes/78667

 

1929—The NY Times reported that 45,000 fans turned out on the second day of the Penn Relays to see the incomparable Paavo Nurmi, the “Flying Finn.” The winner of nine Olympic gold medals at the last three Olympics didn’t disappoint, winning the 3-mile in 14:29-1/5. He had won the 2-mile the day before in 9:15.4, the fastest time ever run in the U.S.

Paavo Nurmi, photo by Wikipedia

George Simpson anchored Ohio State to victory in the 440-(42.2) and 880-(1:27.0) relays, which were run around two turns for the first time at Penn. Simpson also won the 2nd of his 3 Penn titles in the 100-yard dash (9.6).

Phil Edwards anchored NYU to a win in the Sprint Medley for the 2nd year in a row. Representing Canada, he won 5 bronze medals at 3 Olympics–1924-1928-1932(See link).

Yale’s Frederick Sturdy set a Relay Record of 13-5 ½ (4.10+) in the Pole Vault, and Army’s C.E. Green won the Long Jump (23-5 7/8 [7.15+]) and Triple Jump (47-2 3/8 [14.38+]). NYU’s David Myers set another relay record, throwing the Javelin 196-3 ¾ (59.83+).

 

https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1929/04/28/95936558.pdf?pdf_redirect=true&ip=0

 

1934–Jack Torrance had bettered the World Record in the Shot Put on two previous occasions, but his toss of 55-1 ½ (16.80) at the Drake Relays was the first to get official recognition from the IAAF.

W.R.R. Progression: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men’s_shot_put_world_record_progression

 

1935— LSU, with Glenn “Slats” Hardin (1:53.6) on the anchor, got its first win at Penn in the 2-Mile Relay (7:49.0). It would be 44 years (1979) before the Tigers would win again at the Relays. Hardin also won the 400 m Hurdles (54.7) and went on to win Olympic gold in Berlin in 1936.

Led by the “original” Ben Johnson, Columbia swept the 440y-(42.3) and 880y-(1:27.1) Relays. A World Indoor Record holder at 60-yards (with wins over Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, the gold and silver medalists in the 100 Meters at the 1936 Olympics), Johnson missed out on a chance to compete in Berlin after suffering an injury before thU.S.S. Trials.

Temple sophomore Eulace Peacock won the Long Jump with a leap of 25-1/4 (7.62+) and 100 meters in 10.6.

 

Johnson: https://blackhistory.news.columbia.edu/people/ben-johnson

 

1940—Maryland became the first team to sweep the three longest relays at Penn: the 2-mile (7:48.4), 4-mile (17:44.8), and Distance Medley (10:12.5) relays. Mason Chronister and Jim Kehoe ran on all three teams. After serving in the Army during World War II, Kehoe became Maryland’s track coach and then Athletic Director. He was inducted into the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame in 1998.

Jimmy Herbert, who had set World Indoor Records in the 600y (1:10.8) and 600m (1:20.3) during the indoor season, anchored NYU to a win in the Mile Relay (3:16.1).

Georgetown’s Al Blozis won the Shot Put with a toss of 55-5 3/8 (16.89+), almost 3 feet farther than the previous Relays Record of 52-9 ¼ (16.08). Also the winner of the Discus (154-6 1/8 [47.11]), Blozis was inducted into the U.S. Hall of Fame in 2015.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Kehoe

https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/bs-xpm-2010-02-09-bal-trackletter0208-story.html

James (Jim) Kehoe, USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame Class of 1998

Blozis: https://www.usatf.org/athlete-bios/al-blozis

 

1957—Using an aluminum pole, Bob Gutowski jumped 15-8 ¼ (4.78) at Stanford to break “Dutch” Warmerdam’s 15-year-old world record (15-7 3/4/4.77) in the pole vault.W.R..R. Progression: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men’s_pole_vault_world_record_progression

 

1963— Washington’s Brian Sternberg. Set a World Record of 16-5 (ratified as 5.00m) to win the pole vault at the Penn Relays. Sternberg would later jump 16-7 (5.05) and 16-8 (5.08) that spring, but his career came to a tragic end when he suffered a spinal cord injury on July 2 while practicing flips on a trampoline.

Tom Kenney had double duty on the anchor leg of Fordham’s winning teams in the 2-Mile (7:33.4) and

4-mile (16:42.7) Relays. Running the 2nd leg for Fordham on the 4-Mile team, which smashed the previous Relays Record of 17:11.3, was the late Norb Sander, the winner of the 1974 N.Y. City MarN.Y.hon and the man most responsible for the rebirth of N.Y.’s ArmoN.Y.’sBoth of Fordham’s wins were considered upsets.

Another future luminary in the sport, Larry Rawson, anchored Boston College to a surprise win in the Distance Medley (10:01.3 [4-26]). Rawson has enjoyed a 4-decade career as one of the sport’s leading T.V. commT.V.tators.

Maryland State’s (now UMES) Charlie Mays won the Long Jump (24-1[7.34]) for the 2nd year in a row.

Results

Roommates: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/othersports/123332_forty23.html

http://www.healingtherapies.info/Omentum.htm

Video Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV4zHbadjFM

 

Rawson shares his memories of the DMR:

“The 880 leg went out slowly and became a kicker’s race. Jim Owens fought hard and kept us close to the lead. Jim handed it off to Bob Gilvey, who ran another excellent leg for the 440. Phil Jutras, nicknamed on the team “Joot the Jet,” ran a great leg for us in 1320… I always thought his talent was enormous, but for years, he battled through many injuries on a soft cinder track on a fantastic, blustery day. Phil outkicked Villanova’s great Tom Sullivan on the last lap of the ¾-leg and brought the baton in first to me on the handoff.

I was worried about 2 things. Frank Tomeo was anchoring for Fordham and had 1.47 880-yard speed, and Pat Traynor, Villanova’s future Olympic Steeplechaser, was running anchor and got the baton right behind me. The prior Spring, he had outkicked me for 2nd at the IC4A’s ( 4.06. 9 to 4.07.1 ). They had more sprint speed than I did, and I didn’t want it to come down to a kicker’s race.

Our coach never got the splits in the race, but my guess was 58 for the first lap. I was trying to get away, and on the back stretch of the second lap, where Villanova had a large cheering section, it took a lot longer before I heard them yelling for Pat than it did on the first lap. By the third lap, I listened to no yelling, even though I was starting to feel the effects of the pace. Even though I died on the last lap, the lead was big enough to give us the victory. What a thrill!!!! The Penn Relays was the first place I ever ran, a mile relayH.S.H.S., and years later a DMR title!!! Penn is the Holy Grail of our sport.”

 

Fordham-Reliving Penn Glory (50 Years Later)

by Elliott Denman — posted on 4/28/2013 at Armorytrack.com

“Everybody has a different story,” jokes Dr. Norbert Sander. “We’re four guys, and there are four different versions of how it happened. “And I guess that’s logical. After all, it’s been 50 years.”

The one thing not subject to debate is that ‘Doc’ Sander — and his three undersung Fordham University teammates, Matteo Cucciarra, Joe McGovern and Tom Kenney — scored one of the biggest upsets in the 119-year history of the Penn Relays when they won the Championship of America college four-mile relay title in 16:42.7 at the then-still cinder-tracked Franklin Field in 1963, demolishing the prior Penn record of 17:11.3 — set four years earlier by Penn State — by a whopping 28.6 seconds.

They were saluted as Class of 2013 Penn Relays Wall of Fame honorees at a gala gathering at The Palestra Friday night, and they were saluted all over again — before the vast Franklin Field crowd — on a sun-splashed Saturday program at the classic Penn carnival.

It was the Oregon Ducks first in the 2013 four-mile relay, which honored the Fordham team — but their 16:17.57 was just 25.13 faster than those ’63 Rams — on a track rated “at least a second faster per lap, maybe more than that, than Penn’s old cinder track,” by Cucciarra, and probably everyone else who was there.

“We were running against some great teams, some real powers,” said Dr. Sander. Teams like Michigan, Georgetown, Villanova, Seton Hall, and Notre Dame. Fordham? Nobody gave us a chance.”

Except perhaps famed Rams’ coach Artie O’Connor and his four baton-bearers. O’Connor gave anchorman Kenney a jolt of pre-race negative psychology,

“If you’re in it, stay with it,” he told Kenney. “But if you’re not in it, drop out and save yourself for the distance medley.”

Kenney more than “stayed in it.” He ran the fastest mile of his life—a 4:04.9—after an opening 58-second lap. Despite its immense prestige in the collegiate foot racing game, heading into the 1963 Penn Relays, Fordham hadn’t won a Championship of America title over a long span of years since Olympic champion-to-be Tom Courtney and teammates Bill Persichetty, Terrence Foley, and Frank Tarsney—an eventual world-record quartet — took the two-mile relay final in 1954.

But after adding the two-mile relay crown to its four-mile title in ’63 and another two-mile title in 1967, Fordham hasn‘t won a “big one” at Penn in the ensuing 45 years.

So that epic ’63 win adds even more excellent luster with every passing edition of “The Penns.”

“Holy Moses, Villanova was in shock when it was over, ” said Dr. Sander. “Everybody else, too, I guess.

“It just was our day. Each of us probably ran the race of our lives. When Tom Kenney got the baton, we knew we were in good shape. He was our best man, and we knew he was ready—all of us were, actually.”

Sure enough, Kenney brought it home with his lifetime best, and the deed was done. “I remember warming up; there was Villanova. They had those great runners, Tom Sullivan, Pat Traynor, and Vic Zwolak,” said Cucciarra.

So as the warming-up Wildcats pranced by, Cucciarra pointed fingers and said, “Jinx, jinx, jinx.”

The magic touch apparently worked.

“The pace was slow at the beginning, maybe a 2:08 first half,” said Cucciarra. “We were just schlepping along. No one wanted to take it out, so I did, with 660 to go. “I was amazed when no one went by me. They were probably saying, ‘Who are these guys?’ And they didn’t seem to care, either.”

Well, Cucciarra ran 4:15.5, Sander 4:12.6, McGovern 4:09.7, and Kenney did the rest(4:04.9). Fordham would add the two-mile title — Carmine DelGrosso, McGovern, Frank Tomeo and Kenney running 7:33.4 — and the Rams’ meet of all meets was complete. Read the full story at:

https://web.archive.org/web/20130502013241/http://www.armorytrack.com/News/Post/reliving-penn-glory

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