The 1957 collegiate track and field championships provided, by the common standard of record breaking, quite a meet. In two evenings in the University of Texas stadium, which rises like battlements over the city of Austin, one world record, three collegiate records and eight meet records were broken; two world and two collegiate records were tied. And it all augured excitingly for this week's AAU meet.
Glory, though, fortunately does not always have to go hand in hand with records. At Austin, Bob Gutowski (see page 51) became almost as much of a hero by unsuccessfully trying to broad-jump to boost his team's point score as he did by breaking his own pole-vaulting world record.
Austin presented a fair opportunity for a vaulting record: a cinder runway, but one fairly well packed, a slight wind at the back and a small field of nine vaulters. Gutowski decided to start at 14 feet, cleared it, trotted across the infield to broad-jump, then returned to vault 14 feet 4 and 14-8. He scarcely cast an eye at the vaulting pit as rivals missed and the bar moved up, but he was happy as a well-bedded clam about his broad jumping. "I feel I can get 25 feet," he told his coach, Chuck Coker.
Gutowski skipped across the infield, broad-jumped his best, 24 feet 4½ inches, which did not improve his team's score, then recrossed the field to miss his first vault at 15 feet 1¾ inches. "You're flagging it," Coker advised. "Shoot the right leg up and across. Now, sit down and get off your feet." Gutowski sat down but was immediately back on his feet as an official benediction opening the meet came over the loudspeaker. He sat back down, then had to stand again with everyone else for The Star-Spangled Banner and for an extra two minutes of local, sacred music, The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You. After both he and his only tough rival, Don Bragg of Villanova, cleared 15 feet 1¾, Gutowski hustled away for one last futile try at the broad jump.
June 23, 1957
"Now sit down," Coker pleaded.
The vault bar went up to 15 feet 5 inches, and on his first try—his 10th vault of the evening—Bob went over. Rival Bragg made three good misses, and the bar was raised to 15 feet 9¾ inches.
It was a few minutes before the first running event, so the crowd was concentrating on Gutowski. His run was perfect, and so was the jump, and the stadium announcer said in a voice loud enough to be heard by all Texas, "It was a new, official world record."
Before the meet opened, most of the conversation among coaches was about this man Ron Delany, who in another attempt to win as many points as possible for the Villanova team would be running the mile and then, with little respite, doing whatever he could in the half mile against the latest of the four-minute milers, Don Bowden of California. What sort of race there might be between these two logically would depend on how much trouble Delany might have in first winning the mile from a half dozen men capable of 4:08 or better. The milers gave Delany trouble enough, jockeying about, changing the lead, so that instead of holding a fixed spot in an orderly Indian file as he so often has in making his easiest killings, Delany was shifting up and back between third and fifth for three laps. He moved into second on the backstretch of the last lap and, bursting on away into first, was challenged for a moment on the last turn—to the joy of the crowd—by little Joe Villereal of Texas, then swept on to the tape keeping just ahead of the pack. The pack forced him to run 4:06.5, and 35 minutes after he hit the mile tape he was on the half-mile starting line against Don Bowden. But in this one—for the first time in 26 races—he did not have enough. Bowden triumphed by seven yards in 1:47.2, a new collegiate record, the second fastest half mile ever run. Delany's time, 1:48.1, was the fastest half he had ever run, and the Texas press, amazed at his unequaled durability, honored him in Texas style by calling him "the bell cow of the Villanovans."
The six other Villanovans galloping through the meet at Austin with the bell cow proved an equally fit herd. While almost every team hoping to win suffered some loss of form, the Villanovans almost always came through in the clutch—to take their second national team title in the past year.
HIGH JUMPERS: SEE PAGES 46, 48, 49
THE GUTOWSKI STORY: SEE PAGE 51