The Vale of Tempe (pronounced Tempee, with the accent on the first syllable) in ancient Greece was devoted to games and the arts. A scholarly English gentleman, Darrell Duppa, gave this name to the small town of Tempe (pronounced classically) in the Salt River Valley 15 miles from Phoenix, Ariz., because the site reminded him of the Greek original. Duppa also named the city of Phoenix after the phoenix, a bird which rises from the ashes of the fire that consumes it. He probably did this after a summer in Phoenix.
Tempe, like its forebear, is now devoted to the arts and games, too. It is the home of Arizona State University. The school, which has an enrollment of 13,800, boasts excellent engineering and education colleges, football, basketball and baseball teams that all rank high nationally, and now it has the finest mile-relay team anyone has ever assembled anywhere. Arizona State University fits neatly into the Greek ideal.
None of the members of the relay team hail from either Tempe or the Vale of Tempe, however. Two of them are Californians, one comes from Detroit, and the fourth is from Phoenix. All four were gathered together by Senon Castillo, who looks like a former shotputter but actually was a sprinter. He is a gentle man with a talent for inspiring affection in his athletes. Two weeks ago his mile-relay team, feeling loved and relaxed, ran a mile faster than it had ever been run before (SI, May 6). It seems very likely to run even faster than that in the weeks to come. The remarkable thing about the team is that it belongs to Ar�zona. Not since 1941 has a school been able to break the record—one of the most esteemed in track. The previous holder was a U.S. team composed of the four finest American quarter-milers of the time, among them Otis Davis, the 1960 Olympic 400-meter champion.
The team achieved its record with a minimum of interference from Baldy, as Castillo is called. He is not bald, but a grammar school friend in Phoenix once thought he saw an emerging desert in the bushy, black hair of Castillo and stuck him with a nickname he has never been able to get rid of. What do you call a man named Senon?
"I used to be very eager," Castillo said the other day. "I worked the boys very hard, stayed up nights giving them bed checks, watched their diet. But I found out in the last few years they run just about as good on hamburgers as anything else. All of these boys come from broken homes; none of them was rich, so they probably weren't raised on perfect diets. But look how they run."
How they run, of course, is the best. Castillo, who has been at Arizona State for 12 years, ever since he graduated from the school, has arranged his mile-relay team to take the best advantage of both the physical and the psychological potentials of his runners. Among other things, Castillo has discovered that sprinters and middle-distance runners do better with less work.
Lead-off is Mike Barrick, a quiet, rather unemotional senior who is the Phoenix man on the team. He is the slowest of the runners, but the most consistent and least perturbable. Barrick will enter the Marine Corps when he is graduated this spring; he has no ambition for running after he finishes school. He is capable of a little under 47.5 in the quarter and, unlike most relay runners who are conscious that the lead-off man is always timed slower than the rest, does not mind running the opening leg. Barrick has considerable confidence in himself—which is a help for the first runner. A few weeks ago, when he was told that he faced Mike Larrabee of the Los Angeles Striders, one of the best quarter-milers in the country, Barrick was unimpressed. "Who's he?" he asked.
"When I tell the other boys they're going against a tough opponent, it gets them fired up," Castillo said. "I told Mike, and all he said was, 'That's his tough luck.' "
Barrick ran the first quarter-mile lap in 48 flat during the course of the 3:04.5 world record run in the Mount San Antonio Relays in Walnut, Calif. The time was a little less than his best but it was good enough to keep the Arizona State team in front. He handed the baton to Henry Carr.
Carr is a tall, strongly built runner who this spring set a world record in the 220-yard dash around one curve.