Bobby Joe Morrow (see cover) is a 20-year-old farm boy from south Texas who would rather drive a chugging tractor across a cotton field than roar down the highways in a high-powered car. Yet in the world of sport the name of Morrow is synonymous with speed. On any given day, at any distance from 0 to 220 yards, he is the equal of any sprinter in the world. Before the Olympic year 1956 is over he may be ranked as the best.
Morrow was born in the Rio Grande valley town of Harlingen on October 15, 1935 and grew up on a cotton and carrot farm just outside neighboring San Benito. As a 16-year-old sophomore in San Benito High School he ran the 100-yard dash in 9.9 seconds. The next year he ran 9.7 and won at the state meet. The next year he ran 9.6 and won both the state 100 and 220. As a freshman at Abilene Christian College, Morrow ran the 100 in 9.4, one-tenth of a second off the world record, and once, with a following wind, covered the distance in 9.1 (which couldn't be recognized as a record but gave him a share of the honor, along with Mel Patton, of having moved over the ground on his own two feet faster than anyone had ever gone before). This spring, as a college sophomore, he equaled the world 100-meter record of 10.2 seconds. Since his junior year in high school, Bobby has lost only two races.
In action, Morrow runs with tremendous power but keeps it under such smooth control that he appears to glide down the track. He is tall (6 feet 1½ inches) and beautifully muscled but slender (165 pounds) with white teeth which easily flash in a sun-darkened face. Off the track he wears glasses and appears almost studious. He is married (to his high school sweetheart, brunette Jo Ann Strickland) and hopes his wife will go to Australia to see him run in the Olympics. Despite his physical education major, he plans to farm rather than coach upon graduation. He believes now, despite his love of running, that he will never compete again once out of college.
ACC Coach Oliver Jackson, however, says that if Morrow is drafted for two years in 1958 he almost certainly will continue to run in service competition and be ready for the 1960 Olympics as well. Jackson also believes that if this happens Morrow will become the greatest sprinter the world has ever seen. "He loves to work, and once his starting faults were corrected there wasn't much else I could do—except sit back and enjoy myself." Both coach and runner believe Morrow's best race is the 220 and one day soon he should run it well under 20 seconds flat. "We really have no idea," says Jackson, "how fast that boy can actually run."