The University of Kansas, led by versatile athletes like Ernie Shelby (right), whose leap against the Nebraska sky gave him first place in the broad jump and who finished third in the low hurdles and fifth in the hop, step and jump, won the National Collegiate track and field championship last weekend at Lincoln in a two-day meet studded with bizarre and unlikely happenings.
The odd doings started Friday afternoon during the qualifying heats. Jack Yerman, a strong but nearsighted quarter miler, ran off his lane on a turn, finished the race a lane inside and, although he won his semifinal heat easily, was disqualified. A little while later, a half miler named Bert Ohlander was still stripping his sweat clothes off when the gun sounded for the start of his heat. Ohlander shed his sweat pants rapidly and took off up the track. He caught the field about 150 yards from the start, but this opening sprint was too much for him and he failed to place.
In the 400-meter hurdle trials half of the six-man field in the second heat failed to finish as hurdles toppled like bowling pins. Dick Howard, who may be the United States' best in this event by the time the Olympic Games roll around, was jostled out of his lane by a toppling competitor, ran around the staggered hurdle in the lane next to his and then returned to his own lane to finish and win the heat. This was fair enough, but Howard was momentarily disqualified. When the disqualification was announced, the dismayed Howard collared the nearest judge. "Man," he said, "let's straighten this thing out." Howard was reinstated.
The mishaps which marred the second day of the meet, when the finals were run, were not so funny. Ray Norton of San Jose State, who is one of the finest sprinters in the world, was disqualified in the 100-yard dash. The disqualification was fair; twice Norton sprang out of his blocks before the starter's gun sounded. On Ray's second break the starting judge said, "That's all, Norton." The tall, slender sprinter kicked his sweat pants, lying on the track behind his starting blocks, and walked silently away. He walked a few steps and then lay down on the grass beside the track and cried. He lay there, crying, while the race was run (Kansas' Charlie Tid-well won in a wind-aided 9.3 seconds), and he didn't move when Stanford Coach Payton Jordan knelt beside him to comfort him. When he finally got up, he walked off and sat alone until it was time for him to run the 220-yard dash. In this race he crouched quietly in his blocks until the field got away ahead of him. Then, running with a smooth, long-reaching gait, he caught the other runners in the stretch and won easily.
ANXIOUS AND TWITCHING
Only then would Ray Norton talk to anyone. "No, I don't feel much better now," he said. "I wanted that one so much. I didn't want anyone to get the jump on me. That second time I saw someone move and I lit out. I sure wanted to win."
Tidwell, who was next to Norton in the 100, said, "It was all my fault. I guess I twitched and I pulled Ray off. I didn't mean to."
"I guess it was just youthful eagerness," said Norton's coach, Bud Winter. "It looked like a miracle was in the making and Ray was anxious. It wasn't the starter's fault."
The miracle Winter was referring to was the strong showing of the San Jose State team, which had been regarded as a fairly remote dark horse in this meet. Until Norton's disqualification in the 100, San Jose had been close on the heels of Kansas. It finished second, with 48 1/10 points, to Kansas' 73. Houston, fielding an international team of two Americans, one Polish refugee and a Canadian, was a surprisingly good third with 38 points.
Possibly the most courageous of the competitors at the meet was Houston's John Macy, the Polish refugee. Macy attempted an almost impossible double by entering the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the three-mile run. He might have won both except that he was spiked on the first water jump in the steeplechase, cutting a deep, three-inch gash along the outside of his right ankle. He won that race anyway, with his right shoe full of blood, and later, with the gash stitched up and bandaged, he stayed close until the last lap of the three-mile run and finished third. "It hurt some," he said, "but I worry more that my leg was not striding right. My muscle got sore here." He touched his thigh. "I could not run properly."
Elias Gilbert added to the streak of mishaps when he fell over the eighth hurdle in the 120-yard high hurdles. He fought to retain his balance, then dived headlong through the ninth hurdle. Gilbert was running second to Eastern Michigan's Hayes Jones when he fell, and it is not likely that he would have caught Jones in any case, but later in the meet he had to withdraw from the 220-yard low hurdles (in which he holds the world record) because of the accident, though he was not seriously hurt.
Jones, a long-legged runner who skims over the hurdles as easily as a boy jumping a curb, won the highs in 13.6 seconds, then outkicked Tidwell to win the lows in 22.5 seconds. Tidwell, who runs the long curve of this race better than any other hurdler in the world, led as the field came around into the stretch. But Jones, who takes the hurdles better on the straight than Tidwell, caught the Kansan on the straightaway and then barely held his lead in the sprint from the last hurdle to the tape.
In the races unmarred by accident the results pretty much followed form. Eddie Southern, Texas' quarter miler, won as expected. Oregon's Otis Davis had looked very capable in Friday's heats, but in Saturday's finals he made the mistake of running the first half of the race much too fast. He tied up badly in the second half of the race, which was run in lanes, and finished seventh.
The introspective Southern, whose lane was outside of Davis', ran a better-balanced race and won in 46.4 seconds, very creditable time. "I'm glad I couldn't see Davis in the first part of the race," he said. "He caught me on the second curve, and I thought he had run the first 220 too fast. I was worried, but when we hit the homestretch he faltered a little and that gave me confidence. It loosened me up and I gained on him, and the more I came up on him the more he tightened up. It bolstered my confidence. It needed bolstering. I had got to the place where I was looking for things to keep from running. When I was warming up, I looked at some chuck holes in the grass and I thought maybe I'll step in one and I won't have to run." He looked up at the heavy rain clouds. "I was hoping it would rain and they would have to put it off," he added. "But I'm all right now." Southern was pressed in the last 10 yards by Chuck Carlson of Colorado, who did 46.5. Carlson was in this race only because of Yerman's disqualification the day before, which had moved him up a place.
In the half mile George Kerr of Illinois used the same sound sense of pace as Southern to win in 1:47.8. Ernie Cunliffe of Stanford led at the quarter by six or seven yards, while Kerr was content to hold back. On the backstretch of the second lap, Kerr, a very powerful runner, barreled by Cunliffe and won going away. Cunliffe, flagging badly, fell back to third place, Tony Seth of Michigan catching him in the homestretch. Dave Scurlock of North Carolina became ill and did not make the final.
Jim Grelle, a slight, trim-looking senior from Oregon, won a surprisingly easy victory in the mile. Grelle's time—4:03.9—was a disappointment to the crowd, which had hoped for something under four minutes, but it earned him an easy victory. Ed Mo-ran of Penn State faded badly on the last lap and finished sixth. Peter Close of St. John's ran 4:05.6 for second and looked as though he might have run a faster time had the early pace been better. A fairly drab third quarter, during which the leaders seemed reluctant to lead, slowed the race. "I was hoping someone would step it up," Grelle said. "But I didn't want to." Neither did anyone else.
The field events produced one meet record, 207 feet 5 inches in the hammer throw. John Lawlor, an Irishman who got tired of being a Dublin policeman and came over to Boston University because he had heard that Ed Flanagan was a good coach in the hammer, won the event. Tom Daniels of San Jose State, who finished sixth, produced the only other notable throw, a toss of exactly 97 feet 5 inches. Daniels had never thrown the hammer before. "I put him in just to keep the other coaches honest," Bud Winter grinned later. "Only six men were entered, so we figured why give away that sixth-place point?"
Bill Alley, Kansas' sore-armed javelin thrower, competed with a heavy bandage over his right elbow and won with 240 feet 5½ inches. John Londerholm of Kansas did 232 feet 7½ inches on Friday to finish third, behind Buster Quist of New Mexico and ahead of Bruce Parker of Texas.
Most of the NCAA stars will head for Boulder, Colo. and the AAU championships Friday and Saturday. Some should repeat their triumphs of last week in the competition that will determine the American team for the U.S.-Russia dual meet and the Pan American Games, but others will fall before a host of talented postcollegiate athletes. Hayes Jones will be favored in the hurdles, and Ray Norton should be in the sprints, especially since Bobby Morrow's leg still bothers him. Jamaican George Kerr seems a reasonably safe bet to beat America's best in the 800 meters, but Texan Eddie Southern meets an old nemesis in Glenn Davis at 400 meters. Davis will try to double in the 400-meter hurdles, in which he holds the world record. Jim Grelle could win the 1500 meters, although Jerome Walters has run very well on the Coast, and a pair of youngsters, Dyrol Burleson and Archie San Romani Jr., have developed remarkably this spring. John Macy, handicapped by his torn foot, will have to contend with veterans like Phil Coleman in the steeplechase and Max Truex in the distance runs.
In the field events Ernie Shelby should hold his own with Joel Wiley and Greg Bell in the broad jump, but John Lawlor is not in Harold Connolly's class in the hammer. With Bill Alley, who is undergoing an operation for bone chips in his elbow, out of the javelin, the new unofficial world-record holder, AlCantello, looks much the best. The pole vault is wide open, with 15-footers cheap. Jim Graham looked very good winning the NCAA vault, finishing up in the glow of a searchlight mounted on a fire truck, but he must outvault such redoubtable veterans as Bob Gutowski and Don Bragg, not to mention teammate Aubrey Dooley and J. D. Martin, a 19-year-old from Oklahoma. The shotput and discus are strongly Californian—Parry O'Brien, Dallas Long, Dave Davis, Charley Butt, Rink Babka—plus Kansas alumni Bill Nieder and Al Oerter. The high jump? Charley Dumas. And finally, two more Californians, Alvis Andrews and Herman Stokes, in the hop, step and jump.
On second thought, maybe Graham should' be favored in the pole vault. When he missed the spotlighted bar for the third time at 15-4½ in the NCAA meet, he kicked the sawdust in the pit in disgust. "I was just get-tin' used to it," he grumbled. "I'da made that baby if I'da had just one more chance."
He'll get it at Boulder.
TEAM POINT SCORES
San Jose State
Tennessee A & I
Kansas St. T.C.
N. Carolina Col.