SI Vault
Tex Maule
January 27, 1958
From the exciting kaleidoscope of the 1958 indoor track and field season may emerge the United States' answer to Russia's burgeoning strength
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
January 27, 1958

They're Off!

From the exciting kaleidoscope of the 1958 indoor track and field season may emerge the United States' answer to Russia's burgeoning strength

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5


Truex is a short, stocky, crew-cut, blond junior at the University of Southern California. As a high school senior he set a national interscholastic record of 4:20.4 in the mile. He has run the fastest three-mile in the history of U.S. track, and his peak years lie well ahead of him. Truex agrees with Templeton and Nelson on the value of hard work by both runner and coach. He trains every day of the year and this season he is scheduled to compete in five indoor meets in the East and Middle West. He is a strong threat to break the two-mile record (8:50.5) and the three-mile (13:45.7) in the national AAU championships.

Truex will undoubtedly be on the United States team this year which is scheduled to meet the Russians in Moscow in the first of two U.S.-Russia meets tentatively set for July 28 and 29. Meantime, he should find strong competition during the indoor season from John Macy, the transplanted Pole who represents the University of Houston, and from Macy's teammate, Jerry Smartt, who is scheduled to come East, too. Despite the retirement of Ashenfelter and Dwyer, the field in the two-mile and three-mile runs for the indoor track season is strong; Ron Delany, the indolent Irishman who has won 19 straight indoor races, may move up from the mile to the longer races in some meets and he may double up in the IC4A competition. Strong dark-horse possibilities are Lew Stieglitz, ex-Connecticut runner, who finished second to Delany in the IC4A two-mile last year and won the Penn Relays two-mile championship; Deacon Jones of Iowa, who ran a 9:04.2 to win at the Massachusetts K of C meet; and Velisa Mugosa, a student of philosophy and geography at the University of Belgrade. Mugosa is a darkly handsome Yugoslav who has won the 1,500-, 3,000- and 5,000-meter championships of his country for the last five years.

The showpiece of any indoor track meet is the mile, and the show competitor in the miles scheduled this season, as last, is Villanova's and Ireland's Delany. The slender, dark Irishman with the odd, shoulder-hunching running style has won 16 straight indoor miles and three races at other distances since he last lost indoors. He scored a tremendous 1,000-yard-two-mile double in last season's IC4A and just about the only question on Delany is whether he will break the indoor mile record. Says Ron: "If the competition is provided—say, three good milers—anything can happen." The anything in this case includes a four-minute indoor mile and, as of now, it appears likely that Delany will have the three good milers to push him to that mark. Since he notoriously runs only fast enough to win, the competition is an absolute necessity if he is to be the first man to hit four minutes indoors.

Two midwestern distance runners—Phil Coleman and Ted Wheeler—provide strong but not record-setting competition. Coleman won the Massachusetts K of C meet last year in the absence of Delany (4:10.8), and looks very fit this year. He pressed Delany to a 4:05 mile at Boston last Saturday, doing 4:05.7 himself. Mustachioed, round-shouldered Wheeler took first at Milwaukee in 1957 in 4:13.3 and ran a 4:07.2 for a third at Chicago. Burr Grim of Maryland and Jim Beatty, formerly of North Carolina and now in the Army, are back for another spin on the indoor merry-go-round; Grim, third last week to Delany and Coleman in 4:08.9, nipped Wheeler for second in Chicago last year in 4:07.2, won the Delany-less IC4A and was consistently around 4:11 in five other meets. Beatty, who beat Grim for both the mile and two-mile Atlantic Coast Conference titles, had a best time of 4:09.1 for third in the New York Athletic Club meet; he will probably run better as a two-miler this season. The most promising dark horse in the mile is frail-looking George King, the 130-pound former NYU runner. He is training for a 4:04 mile and, while he may not beat Delany, he could be the one to provide the impetus to send the Irishman to a new indoor record. And if he doesn't, Istvan Rozsavolgyi, Hungary's 3:59-miler who will compete in three or four meets, just might.

880-1,000 YARDS

Tom Courtney's preoccupation with his studies and the uncertainty imposed on Arnie Sowell (ex-Pitt) by his Army service add up to confusion in the 880- to 1,000-yard distances for the indoor season. Sowell was undefeated last season; he holds the 880-yard indoor record (1:50.3) and is co-holder with Don Gehrmann of the 1,000-yard record (2:08.2). Now he is a second lieutenant who has just graduated from infantry school at Fort Benning and he has not had time to train properly.

"I'm in fair but not tiptop shape," he says. "If I can get leave, I should be in as good shape as last year by the time of the AAU." If Sowell manages to reach this condition, only Ron Delany, should he drop down to the 1,000-yard run for a race or two, could prove more than a match for him. Dave Scurlock of North Carolina, a picture-book runner, came on very well at the end of last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference 880 title and finishing second in the New York K of C meet and at Cleveland. He has an outdoor best time of 1:48.3. Manhattan's Tom Murphy ran a 1:10.7 600 early this season and appears ready for a strong year; he has done 1:49.8 in the 880 outdoors. Others whose chances lie within the realm of possibility are the outdoor 600-yard record holder, Willie Atterberry of Michigan State and Yale's Tommy Carroll, the youthful indoor and intersholastic record holder in the 880, who ran wonderfully well to win the 1,000 at Boston. Carroll will probably skip several meets to conserve his energy for the big ones.

440-600 YARDS
Charlie Jenkins, the Olympic 400-meter gold-medal winner, dominated the 600 during the 1957 season. He should do so again when he is in proper condition. Jenkins won eight major meet titles last winter and is the current record holder at 500 yards with a 56.4. On the strength of his 1:10.7, Murphy appears ready to push Jenkins, if not beat him, and Morgan State's Bob McMurray is another strong challenger. McMurray was only a yard behind Jenkins in 1:11.1 in last year's New York K of C meet and he has a fine best time of 46.7 for the 440 outdoors. Joe Gaffney, in superb condition for so early in the season, won the 600 at Boston, but in a slow 1:13.1. Ancient Reggie Pearman of the New York Pioneers astounded track fans by beating Jenkins in the Millrose 600 in 1957; if his remarkable legs retain their spring, he might astound more this year.

Dave Sime, Duke's brilliant, red-haired sprinter, gave up all thoughts of a pro baseball career to concentrate on the sprints, looking ahead to the Olympics. With Sime on the boards, muscular, chunky Ira Murchison, who was unbeaten indoors last winter, may see his streak broken. Murchison may have an advantage in that Sime doesn't care much for the wear and tear of board running. A fast-developing sophomore from Pittsburgh, who hails from Brooklyn's Boys High, could conceivably upset both Sime and Murchison: Mel Barnwell seems better fitted for the 220 outdoors, but he has the quick speed to be an indoor threat, too. Bobby Gordon, a thick-chested youngster who was the leading ground-gainer for the Morgan State football team last fall, is a good long-shot bet. Gordon has done 9.5 outdoors and last year won the Pioneer Club's 60-yard dash in 6.3. Lieutenant Ken Kave of the U.S. Army and Villanova's Ed Collymore fill out a big field of truly capable sprinters.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5