Walt Murphy is one of the finest track statisticians 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 22

(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.

1925–35,000 fans packed Harvard Stadium, hoping to see Paavo Nurmi break his own World Record in the mile (4:10.4), but gusty winds held him to a time of 4:15.2.

1954—The University of Texas ran 40.5 at the California Relays in Modesto to equal USC’s 18-year World Record in the 440-yard Relay. (Dean Smith, Jerry Prewitt, Alvin Frieden, Charles Thomas)

1976–It was a significant year for America’s Bicentennial and the IC4A (Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America), which was celebrating its 100th anniversary. The best collegiate athletes in the East converged on Philadelphia’s Franklin Field, the home of the Penn Relays,  with many seeking qualifying marks for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

            The highlight of the meet was the 800 meters, with Northeastern’s Mark Lech, the former head coach at Maine, taking the field through the first 400 meters in a quick 51.7.  Bucknell’s Thomas McLean used his patented kick to take over the lead on the final turn and won with a personal best and world-leading time of 1:45.3. He was followed closely by Villanova sophomore Mark Belger (1:46.0), and Seton Hall’s Orlando Greene (1:46.2), with Catholic’s Mark Robinson (1:47.0), Adelphi’s Bill Dabney (1:47.1), and Boston College’s Bill Martin (1:47.8) also recording fast times. Four of those six also made the final at the following month’s NCAA Championships, with McLean winning the national title, Belger finishing 3rd, Greene 4th, and Martin 6th. Belger would finish a close 4th at the Olympic Trials, while McLean finished 7th.

            Villanova’s Eamonn Coghlan was a double winner at the meet, taking the 1500 over Princeton’s Craig Masback (3:40.6-3:42.3), and the 5000 over Providence’s Ray Treacy, now the long-time coach at his alma mater (14:03.0-14:03.8).

            Tony Colon (Manhattan-3:40.6) won the Alumni 1500 over Ron Speirs (Rutgers-3:40.9), Denis Fikes (Penn-3:41.2), Ken Schappert (Villanova-3:42.0), Joe Savage (Manhattan-3:42.3), Jeff Kramer (Navy-3:43.7), Jerry Bouma (Villanova-3:44.9), and Mike Keogh (Manhattan-3:46.3).


1976—Frank Shorter (2:11:51), Bill Rodgers (2:11:58), and Don Kardong (2:13.54) took the top three places at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Eugene, Oregon.

            Other notable finishers: 4. Tony Sandoval (2:14:58), 5.Tom Fleming (2:15:48), 6.Bob Varsha (2:15:50…9.Jeff Galloway (2:18:29), 10.Amby Burfoot (2:18:56).

            A graduate of Emory Law School, Varsha became a TV sportscaster and covered many track and field meets during the 1980s and 1990s.

History of the U.S. Men’s Marathon Trials