SI Vault
Paul O'Neil
July 04, 1955
Ever since the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics unveiled its new state-suckled track and field team in Europe last spring, armies of sport fans have assumed that the "Russian Juggernaut" is certain to compel a new pattern of athletic power at Melbourne in 1956. But it was impossible to watch the 67th National AAU track and field championships—a sort of pre-Olympics war dance held here last weekend before 20,000 applauding shirt-sleeved spectators—without coming to just the opposite conclusion; without wondering, in fact, just how the Russians will keep the Juggernaut from bogging down when it is finally entered in world competition.
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July 04, 1955

Blazing The Way At Boulder

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Andy Stanfield, 1952 Olympic 200-meter champion, ran third in the 220 finals. But Pan-American Champ Rod Richard, the winner, was clocked in 21 flat around one turn. Although 13 U.S. runners have already bettered his mark on a straightaway this year, only one European, Vaclav Janecek of Czechoslovakia, has equaled it. There seemed, in fact, no end to the attrition which the big field of athletes was able to absorb without materially damaging the quality of performance. When Northwestern's Jet Jim Golliday, who equaled the world record with a 9.3 hundred-yard dash this year, came to Boulder with a painfully pulled muscle high in his left thigh, up stepped a brand-new phenomenon to thrill the crowd and dominate the hundred—rangy, crop-headed, 19-year-old Bobby Morrow, a freshman from little Abilene (Texas) Christian College.

Morrow came to the big time with a record as startling in its way as Golliday's. Three weeks ago in the NAIA meet at Abilene he ran the hundred (with a 7-mile tail wind) in 9.1 seconds. At Boulder he ran 9.5, but he did so in heart-stopping fashion. He came off his blocks badly in the 100-yard final and both Dean Smith of Texas and Pan-American Champ Richard led him by a half stride at 50 yards.

Nothing can be more disconcerting in the hundred, a race which is often won or lost almost at the instant it begins. But Morrow's smooth, hard driving stride simply seemed to lengthen. He was even at 80 yards and rolling like old 97 on White Oak Mountain when he hit the tape—one foot in front.

The high hurdles also provided a share of alarms and sensations. Illinois' Willard Thompson, a 13.7 performer, pulled a muscle and fell with an agonizing thud in a preliminary heat and defending Champion Jack Davis took two false starts in the final.

When calm descended, Milt Campbell, the University of Indiana's giant (203 pounds) halfback, decathlon star and hurdler, won the race in 13.9. He was not excited by his feat; when he was reminded that nobody outside the U.S. has come close to running that fast he cried: "Man, if you haven't got the 13.9 habit in this league, you're nobody, just nobody. Six, seven, maybe eight fellows could do that and there's all these kids coming up."

In the AAU meet, however, a few 17-and 18-year-old kids proved they were already "up." Nobody was able to match Compton, California's high school high jumping sensation, Charley Dumas, for sheer crowd appeal. Though only 18 years old, Charley jumped with USC's national champion (6 feet 11� inches) Ernie Shelton.

Both Shelton and Dumas drifted up and over with leafy lightness at 6 feet 6 inches. They did so at 6 feet 8 inches. Then, at 6 feet 9 inches Charley knocked the bar down twice. When he made it on his last try and rose with a grin of vibrant joy, he was washed in cascades of applause. Refreshed, he jumped 6 feet 10 inches with ease. Shelton tried for 6 feet 11 inches. Charley breezily announced that for himself he preferred to try for a world record at seven feet. He missed. But Shelton, who had the right to feel slightly startled, had missed too at 6 feet 11 inches and Charley got a tie.

Moments of jollity did not stop with the high jump. UCLA's husky shot putter, Don Vick, absently lobbed his cannon ball into the steeplechase water jump and had to wade in and feel around for it while the stands cheered him raucously. Then too, there was the mile run starring Wes Santee—which, in its original manifestations looked like any other mile run, but which changed character as it went along. Sixteen entrants lined up (with Santee in the second row) for a standing start, were sent off, and began colliding with each other like neutrons in an atom smasher. As the runners went into the turn the starter signaled a halt with pistol shots, stopped them—some almost in the back stretch—called them back, gave them a five-minute rest and started them again.

Santee, certain that the altitude would prevent a four-minute attempt and apparently just as certain that the crowd might resent a hard-run but dull 4:05 or 4:06, started slowly.

He was 13th on-second lap, ninth on the third and fifth—having pulled even with New York's Fred Dwyer—at the bell. Then on the first turn of the last lap he took off after the weary straggle of runners ahead of him. He sprinted all the way down the back stretch. He sprinted the turn. He came whomping up the homestretch with his ears still laid back and legs still pumping and hit the tape, amid delighted applause, in 4:11.5—having whistled through the last quarter in 54.4 seconds. During the afternoon he also patted the head of a child near the track, signed autographs, and left the stadium on a general note of warmth.

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