A handsome young Irishman from Manhattan parlayed courage and a fine tactical sense to victory in the 800-meter run, one of the finest races of the meet. Tom Murphy is a thick-legged, heavy-chested runner whose build precludes any hint of grace in his running style: watching him, you get a feeling of immense power but none of the silky smoothness of a runner like, say, Dellinger. In the 800 meters, Murphy was worried about Jerome Walters, a slender, feathery-light runner from California.
"Off the trials, I knew he was the only one who had a real lift at the end," Murphy said. "I decided to stay with him and try to outkick him."
Murphy followed his plan perfectly. He and Walters ran well off the whistling early pace set by Stanford's Ernie Cunliffe which resulted in a 50.8 first quarter. ("Ernie has to try to run the kick out of the others," Payton Jordan, his coach, explained. "He doesn't have the essential speed to win kicking himself.") Murphy, pounding along relentlessly, moved by Cunliffe at the beginning of the last turn, with Walters dogging his steps. Walters, who has a strong finishing burst, made his run at Murphy as they hit the turn, and Murphy stood him off. Then Walters tried again as they straightened into the home stretch and the big Irishman met that challenge, too, and turned it back as he pulled away in the final, agonizing sprint for the finish line. He was sick for half an hour after the race.
"I knew it was now or never when he came at me the second time," Murphy said, when he had recovered. "I just thought about keeping my head down and running. I've got a tendency to throw my head back and it slows me down so I just thought about that. I can hold on longer with my head down."
Murphy's victory and his very good time—1:47.9—are significant because the 800-meter run, since the retirement of Tom Courtney and Arnie Sowell, appeared to be one of the weakest spots on the U.S. team. Now, with Murphy and Walters, it looks strong.
A combination of youth and experience makes the 400-meter run one of the strongest events for the U.S. Eddie Southern, the stylish, introspective runner from Texas, won this event easily, looking better than he has at any time this year. He judged his pace perfectly, making up ground on the field on both of the very tight turns on the Folsom Field track and coming down the home stretch under control and running easily. He runs the curves as well as anyone ever has. Dave Mills, the youngster from Ohio who has made the mistake most inexperienced runners make of flying through the first half of the race, held back too far this time. His wonderful last burst brought him up to second but left him well behind Southern. When he adjusts his tempo, Mills should be among the world's finest quarter-milers.
Hayes Jones, Eastern Michigan's superb hurdler, had trouble with tempo, too. He spent too much time in the air over the hurdles. Jones lost by an eyelash to Lee Calhoun in the 110-meter high hurdles, then lost by the same margin to Charley Tidwell in the 200-meter lows. Tidwell, a master at the difficult art of taking hurdles while running a curve, picked up considerable ground on Jones on the tight curve of this track and held off his rival down the long straight. Warren Cawley, a high school boy from Michigan, performed a nearly incredible feat which was overlooked in the general excitement. Cawley, a black-haired, loose-limbed youngster, competing against the world's best hurdlers, placed among the point scores in all three hurdle events, with third in the 200-meter lows, fifth in the 110-meter highs and sixth in the demanding 400-meter hurdles.
The field events followed form almost monotonously. Parry O'Brien, who can invest the shotput with all the drama of a western serial, posed, fidgeted, concentrated flamboyantly and then won his event. Al Oerter, the Olympic champion in the discus throw, won that. Mel Schwarz, who had never officially cleared 15 feet in the pole vault, did so in this meet and then went on to make 15 feet 3 inches, too, but he was only one of four men who did it. The winner, on the basis of fewer misses at 15 feet, was Don Bragg.
As everyone expected, Harold Connolly won the hammer throw; as anyone who thought about it expected, Bob Backus won the 56-pound weight throw. Charles Dumas, the American record holder, took the high jump almost casually, and Greg Bell the broad jump. Ernie Shelby, who competed in three events in the NCAA meet a week earlier, was off form for this event.