Walt Murphy is one of the finest track geeks that I know. Walt does #ThisDayinTrack&FieldHistory, an excellent daily service that provides true geek stories about our sport. You can check out the service for FREE with a free one-month trial subscription! (email: WaltMurphy44@gmail.com ) for the entire daily service. We will post a few historic moments each day, beginning February 1, 2024.

This Day in Track & Field–May 15

(c)Copyright 2024-all rights reserved. It may not be reprinted or retransmitted without permission.

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

1926-Lillian Copeland  set American Records in the Shot Put (8-pounds/38-8  ¼ [11.79]) and Discus (2.75 pounds/

103-5  ½ [31.53]) in L.A.  Copeland won Olympic gold (1932) and silver (1928) in the Discus, and won 9 U.S. titles in the Shot (5), Discus (2), and Javelin (2), winning all three in 1926. The New York native enrolled at USC after the 1928 Olympics.

Hall of Fame Biohttps://www.usatf.org/athlete-bios/lillian-copeland


U.S. Championshttps://www.flipsnack.com/USATF/usatf-outdoor-champions/full-view.html



1926–After officially tying the existing World Record of 9.6 for 100-yards on four occasions, Charley Paddock finally

 became the first man to run 9.5, doing so at the L.A. Coliseum. Under the timing rules of the day, however, his time had to be rounded up to 9.6! (The AAU ratified the AR as 9.5).

           There was some doubt that Paddock had actually won the race. USC’s Charley Borah looked like a winner as they  neared the finish, but Paddock, a former USC Trojan, relied on his signature leap at the tape to earn the judges’ decision.

           Maxwell Stiles, writing for the “Los Angeles Examiner”: “There was the wildest confusion as Borah leading by more than 2 feet at 98 yards, was caught by Paddock’s savage finish (his famous leap of 12-15 ft at the tape). They broke the tape together and Borah was raised on the shoulders of a Trojan serpentine and carried off the field as the conqueror of the mighty Paddock. So certain was the writer that Borah had won by inches that he went straight to Paddock and began to offer sympathy for the latter’s defeat. Paddock, thinking he had won, glared back in surprise…when the official announcer named Paddock as the winner a mighty roar of protest swept the vast enclosure (with) cries of “Robber ! Robber !” …(2 judges picked Paddock for 1st, while the 2 second place judges picked Borah and a tie)…Paddock said after the race that he was certain he had won by turning his shoulder into the tape at the proper moment”. (Don) Potts adds “I have 2 pictures of the finish. There is no doubt that Paddock won”.


1948–Competing at the West Coast Relays in Fresno, California, Hall-of-Famer Mel Patton became the first man to run 9.3 for the 100-yard dash. He had been part of the group, which included Jesse Owens, that held the previous record of 9.4. Patton’s record run came after there were 4 false starts, with at least one (some reports say 3!) attributed to Panamanian Lloyd LaBeach, who matched the old record of 9.4 in 2nd place.

           LaBeach returned to the track later in the day to win the 100-meters in 10.2, joining Jesse Owens and Hal Davis as the event’s World Record holder.

           In 1949, Patton ran 20.2 to break Owens’ World Record for 220 yards on the straightaway. At the 1948 Olympics, “Pell Mel” finished a disappointing 5th in the 100-meters after getting a bad start, but came back to win gold medals in the 200 and 4×100 relay.

           He also won five individual NCAA sprint titles while at USC (1947-100y, 1948-100m,200m, 1949-100y,220y), and anchored the Trojans to a World Record of 1:24.4 in the 4x220y-relay at the 1949 West Coast Relays in Fresno. (They improved the record to 1:24.0 the following week at the Coliseum Relays).

           After retiring from the amateur side of the sport in 1950, he competed as a professional in Australia before entering the business world.

Time Magazine Cover Story–1948 Olympics

http://content.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19480802,00.html (Patton on the cover)



1965 –Senior Jim Ryun (Wichita East,KS), who had become the first prep to break 4-minutes for the mile when he ran against open competition in 1964, did it again, this time against other high school runners, running 3:58.3 to win the Kansas state title. His unofficial splits were 58.1, 2:00.9, 3:02.4.  That was the fastest time ever run in a high school-only race until 2022, when senior Gary Martin (Archbishop Wood) ran 3:57.98 at the Philadelphia Catholic League Championships.

     Ryun has received as much media attention during (and especially after) his career as any T&F athlete in history, but there are two little-known, but significant, facts that even hard-core fans might be surprised to learn.
While Bob Timmons rightfully received credit for turning Ryun into an Olympian by his junior year at Wichita East H.S. in Kansas, it was J.D. Edmiston who coached Ryun during his final prep season in 1965. In addition to his sub-4 performance at the State meet, Ryun went on to beat the legendary Peter Snell at the U.S. Championships in June, setting an American Record of 3:55.3. That time, of course, also improved his H.S. record, which  lasted for 36 years until Alan Webb ran 3:53.43 in 2001.

     The most highly recruited runner in the country eventually wound up attending the University of Kansas, but did you know that he initially planned to join Timmons at Oregon State, where his H.S. mentor had become the head coach?  (Timmons spent a year in Corvallis before becoming the head coach at Kansas, where he was reunited with Ryun).
http://faculty.randolphcollege.edu/tmichalik/ryun.htm (scroll down for a great picture of the finish).

Video-with Ryun’s commentary!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RsSkU7WuIY


Ryun Talks About His H.S. Traininghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewKbGJanxso