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Roy Terrell
July 02, 1956
In the AAU championships at Bakersfield, nine meet records were set, yet greater events lay ahead in the Olympic Trials
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July 02, 1956

And Now: The Biggest Battle Of All

In the AAU championships at Bakersfield, nine meet records were set, yet greater events lay ahead in the Olympic Trials

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The night's sixth meet record came in the 400-meter hurdles when Ohio State's Glenn Davis finished strong to pull away from the Texas freshman, Eddie Southern, over the last two hurdles to win in a time of 50.9 and leave Defending Champion Josh Culbreath back in fourth place. Saturday they started in all over again. Sowell soundly beat those who dared to challenge him, including Whitfield and Spurrier, by half a dozen yards in 1:47.6. Horace Ashenfelter, surprise victor over his foreign foes in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at Helsinki, appeared ready to go after it again with a front-running time of 9:04.1, some nine seconds better than the record set by Harold Manning way back in 1934. And Courtney ran down Jenkins with a tremendous stretch drive which took a 10th of a second off one of the best AAU records in the books, the 45.9 turned in by Herb McKenley in 1948.

There were the surprises too. Baker and Stanfield proved that Morrow would have no easy time in the 200 meters by running one-two in 20.6 and equaling the American record around a turn. And not the least surprise was in the one event on the program which served as a final Olympic tryout, the 10,000-meter run. USC's chunky little sophomore, Max Truex, once noted for having set the national interscholastic mile record but in recent weeks noted chiefly for his inability to even finish a race, came through with a blazing kick to speed away from the field. The other two to make the plane were Dick Hart, the defending champion, and Gordon McKenzie, veteran of the New York Pioneer Glub. But, as in the 1,500 meters (won by another surprise named Jerome Walters in 3:48.4 over Fred Dwyer, America's 4:00.8 miler) and in the 5,000 meters (Hart, 14:47.4), the time turned in by Truex (30:52.0) was hardly startling by international standards. Asked where they thought Dave Stephens, the Australian six-mile record holder, would have been at the finish of Friday night's race, the visiting Aussie press corps merely smiled in unison and answered, "Home in bed and asleep."


There were almost as many surprises as new records. In addition to Calhoun and Bantum and Walters and Truex, Ron Drummond beat both Gordien and O'Brien with his discus throw of 180 feet 3 inches and tacked the AAU title to the NCAA championship he won a week before; Ernie Shelby went almost a foot past his previous best when he broad-jumped 26 feet 1� inches while Greg Bell, the recent NCAA champion as well as defending AAU titleholder, could salvage only a tie for third.

And, as everyone had known there would be, there were the tragic moments too. Sime, for one, sitting on the sidelines and watching others run. Lindy Remigino, for another—the 1952 Olympic 100-meter champion trailed Morrow when the young Texan ran his world-record-equaling heat, and then failed altogether to qualify for the Olympic Trials, although he did slip in later in the 200 meters. And Jim Golliday, who didn't make it in either one, in fact didn't even bother to try for the 200 meters after running a miserable sixth and last in the first heat of the 100 semifinals; Jim Golliday, one of the finest sprinters of all time who shares the world record of 9.3 for 100 yards and, because of an injured leg muscle much like the one he has had all year, failed in the same way to qualify back in 1952. Now he will probably never make it, and his bad luck saddens all track fans.

In fact if there was anything disappointing about the entire show, it centered around the 400 and 800 meters—and how can you be disappointed over times like 45.8 and 1:47.6. But everyone was a little unhappy that the world's three ranking 400-meter men, Jones, Lea and Mashburn, decided to pass up their event at Bakersfield because they had already qualified in an earlier meet.

But probably they were concerned only with getting a little rest before heading for the Coliseum. As the queen told Alice, to really get somewhere there, they are going to have to run at least twice as fast as that.

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