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Tex Maule
June 15, 1959
U.S. track prospects are brightening in this pre-Olympic year—and Kansas is still the best bet for the NCAA title
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June 15, 1959

It's Agony, Upsets And Hopes

U.S. track prospects are brightening in this pre-Olympic year—and Kansas is still the best bet for the NCAA title

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"I don't care much about losing," Southern said later. He was stretched out on the infield, his face beaded with sweat, his chest still heaving. "I don't care about that. But I outfought him down the stretch. This was getting to be too big a thing for me. I was thinking about it. I fought him off in the stretch and I don't care about losing. I thought he was running too fast but I wanted to stay on his shoulder. I'll be all right for the NCAA and the AAU now."

Southern and Davis ran again the next night in Houston. Both of them flew all night from Los Angeles. Davis, tired and 10 or 12 over what he considers his best weight, had a particularly trying trip. His plane was an hour late out of Los Angeles to begin with, and he had bought a box lunch to eat on the flight. His seat was next to an active 4-year-old, and Davis, trying desperately to sleep in order to store up energy for the meet the next night, finally bribed the youngster with the box lunch. He ate an apple, gave the rest to the boy, who finally subsided.

Then Davis, on a hot, very humid night and on a track much slower than the track in Compton, beat Southern in 46.9 seconds around two turns. "I felt pretty good," he said, later, grinning. "I'm glad I didn't eat the box lunch."

Morrow, who has been the nation's best sprinter for several years, ran into disaster in Houston. He skipped the Compton meet and arrived in Houston fresh and strong, and in the 100 there he started very well. At 50 yards he was running beautifully, two yards ahead of Bill Woodhouse, his smooth, relaxed stride eating up the track. Then, suddenly, in midstride, he broke and began to hobble, his hand pressed against his left thigh high up near the hip. Woodhouse went on to win the race, but he did it unnoticed. Morrow, after a few painful steps, lay down on the track and rolled in agony. He was carried off by two trainers.

Later, lying on a rubbing table in the dressing room while a trainer applied an elastic bandage to his thigh, he appeared relaxed. "I've had cramps before," he said. "Usually at night after a hard race. This is the first time during a race. I think it's all right now." He moved his leg gingerly, flexing it carefully. The leg moved easily, without giving him pain.

"Maybe it's only a muscle spasm," he said hopefully. Later he jogged a little to loosen the leg, and it is unlikely that it will keep him out of the AAU meet. He ran better in the 60 yards he managed than he had all season, according to his coach, Abilene Christian's Oliver Jackson.

Morrow's sudden cramp pointed up a theory expounded at length by Bud Winter, Ray Norton's track coach at San Jose. Winter, who has put together a remarkably strong track team at San Jose State despite the fact that he has no track scholarships and a track budget of only $2,800 for the season, is probably the nation's firmest exponent of relaxation.

"I taught relaxation during the war to pilots," he said late one afternoon last week, sitting in the skimpy wooden stands at San Jose State, watching his athletes work in the still-bright California sun. "We were losing pilots in training because they were too tense. Pilots who had been fine in training tensed up going into combat and were lost. Pilots on Guadalcanal couldn't sleep at night because the Japs were sending over nuisance bombers to disturb their rest. We had to figure out some way to relax them. We worked out a program that taught pilots how to relax themselves, and we ran a test on two platoons, 60 men in each platoon. The 60 who learned how to relax did better in everything which requires physical coordination."

He watched Norton run, the lean, handsome boy moving very easily, his hands flopping.

"Watch his lower lip," Winter said. Winter is a sun-scorched, intense man who talks very rapidly, as if his ideas outpaced his words. "That's what we work on. The lower lip and the hands. If his lower lip is relaxed and flopping when he runs, his upper body is loose. If his hands are relaxed, his arm muscles are relaxed. You got to run relaxed to get maximum speed. If you have antagonistic muscles working against each other, you're working against yourself."

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