This Day in Track & Field– May 17


1930—Eric Krenz, the U.S. Champion in 1927 and 1929,  threw the Discus 167-5 (51.03) at Stanford to break his own World Record of 163-8  ½ (49.90). Drowned in a boating accident in 1931 at the age of 25.

WR Progression’s_discus_world_record_progression

Wiki Bio

1959—Vasily Kuznetsov of the Soviet Union scored 8,357 points (7,839 using current tables) in Moscow to break Rafer Johnson’s year-old World Record (8302/7896) in the decathlon.

(11.0, 7.30/23-11  1/2, 14.49/47-6  1/2, 1.75/5-8  3/4, 49.1, 14.5, 47.50/155-10, 4.00/13-1  1/2, 66.16/217-1, 4:50.0)

WR Progression

1963–A crowd of 32,450 was on hand for the star-studded Coliseum Relays in Los Angeles.

Florida A&M’s Bob Hayes won both sprints, running 9.3 in the 100y to break Bobby Morrow’s 7-year old Meet Record of 9.4, and 20.8 to edge Henry Carr (also 20.8) in the 220y. Carr also ran a 45.4 second leg as Arizona State won the Mile Relay in 3:05.2, which was faster than the official World Record of 3:05.6, but slower than the 3:04.5 the team had run 3 weeks earlier at Mt.SAC. (Mike Barrick 47.4, Henry Carr 45.4, Ron Freeman 46.7, Ulis Williams 45.7).

Other Meet Records were set by USC’s Rex Cawley, who won the 440y-Hurdles in 50.8, and 1960 Olympic Champion Ralph Boston, who won the Long Jump with a leap of 26-3  ½ (8.01).

New Zealand’s Peter Snell, who had set a World Record of 3:54.4 the previous year, won a tactical mile in 4:00.3 over Americans Dyrol Burleson (4:00.8) and Tom O’Hara (4:02.0), and apologized after the race-“I’m sorry the race wasn’t faster”. He ran 53.1 for his last ¼!

American Record holder Jim Beatty overtook Snell’s countryman, Murray Halberg, the 1960 Olympic gold medalist in the event, in the homestretch to win the 5000-Meters (13:57.4-13:59.2).

Snell (800,1500), Hayes (100m,4×100), Carr (200,4×400), and Cawley (400mH) would win Olympic gold the following year in Tokyo.

(From T&F News)


1969—Less than a month after dropping out during the anchor leg of the Sprint Medley at the Drake Relays, Kansas senior Jim Ryun returned to Iowa (Ames) for the Big-8 Championships, scoring easy wins in the Mile (4:08.9) and 880y (1:48.7).  From T&F News


1975–Jim Ryun’s mile World Record of 3:51.1 had stood since 1967 (he set the previous record of 3:51.3 in 1966), but Tanzania’s Filbert Bayi, using the same front-running tactics that he used to break Ryun’s 1500 record in 1974,  ran away from Marty Liquori (3:52.2-PR) and Eamonn Coghlan (3:53.3-European Record) on the last lap and finished in the record time of 3:51.0 in front of 37,000 fans at Jamaica’s jam-packed National Stadium.

News of the great fields being assembled for the International Freedom Games made its way back to New York, and Bob Hersh, Peter Diamond, and myself, all hardcore fans with a collective attitude of “Have stopwatch, will travel”, decided that we had to go to Kingston for the meet. We all had press credentials and could stand trackside throughout the evening, soaking up the great carnival atmosphere in the stadium. Picture Franklin Field during a U.S.-Jamaica battle at the Penn Relays, but everyone in the stands is from Jamaica this time.

Many of the fans were just as interested in the sprints as they were in the Mile (maybe more so), but local hero Don (DQ) Quarrie, who would win the gold medal in the 200 and the silver medal in the 100 at the 1976 Olympics, was beaten in the 100 by Americans Steve Williams (10.0) and Florida prep Houston McTear (10.1=H.S. Record) and again in the 200 by Williams (19.9-20.2), who had the greatest one-day sprint double in history.

Freshman Mark Belger, part of a large Villanova contingent at the meet, had a breakthrough race, winning the 800 by a hair over Byron Dyce (1:47.1 for both). Of course, the highlight of the meet was the Mile.

Filbert Bayi broke Jim Ryun’s WR in the mile with his 3:51.0 on May 17, 1975 in Jamaica! Cover is TFN July 1975 courtesy of TFN.

Bayi looked like he would run away from the pack as he led by 15-yards through the first 1/4-mile in 56.9, as I shouted (at Villanova Assistant coach Jack Pyrah’s request) splits from the infield to Coghlan (59.1) and Liquori (59.2). The lead was still about 10-yards as Bayi went through the 1/2-mile in 1:56.6. Liquori and Coghlan, the former and current Villanova Wildcats (both coached by the legendary Jumbo Elliott), caught up to Bayi halfway through the 3rd lap, but, as he revealed later, it was part of his strategy, hoping that his two main rivals would tire themselves while trying to stay close.

Coghlan drew even with Bayi shortly before he led through the 3/4-mile split in 2:55.3, but the World Record holder at 1500-meters quickly opened a gap on Coghlan and Liquori and now the race was against the clock. Bayi crossed the line in first, with Liquori moving ahead of Coghlan in the final stretch. Everyone knew Bayi was close to Ryun’s record, but we all had to wait for the official declaration. As the public address announcer started reading off the results in reverse order, the late Foggy Burrowes, one of the sport’s great showmen, would jump in after each place was announced  and remind the crowd, “The world record is 3:51.1”.  When the PA announcer gave Bayi’s time–“3 minutes, 51 point…”,  he hesitated before finishing off with “zero” as the crowd erupted in a deafening roar.

Finishing behind the top three was a fast-closing Rick Wohlhuter, who ran 3:53.8, the exact time he had picked for himself in the pre-race pool, and he was followed by Tony Waldrop (3:57.7) and Reggie McAfee (3:59.5).

Bayi’s effort gained more stature over the years since it was the last time a world record was set in the Mile without the assistance of a pace-setter! But while Ryun had been the record holder for nine years (1966-1975), Bayi’s reign ended less than three months later when New Zealand’s John Walker broke the 3:50 barrier with his 3:49.4 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

A footnote: As I returned home to NY, an ever-suspicious U.S. Customs agent asked at the airport, “So let me get this straight—you went to Jamaica for the weekend just to watch a track meet?” With visions of a strip search for contraband dancing in my head, I convinced him that, yes, “I am a certified ‘track-nut’, prone to doing crazy things to see a good meet,” and he waved me on through!

Race Video

Sports Illustrated Cover and Story

T&F News Cover-July

State of the mile in America (2005):