In midwinter, two
weeks before the national championships, before all the great performers have
hit a peak, the indoor track season comes to a climax at the Millrose Games.
The climax is more emotional than rational. Perhaps there is no more reason for
it than that the Millrose has been running as a good show now for 50 years.
From the first gun crack, sending a helter-skelter relay of moppets around the
track, until the last, forlorn thud of a high jumper on the landing mat, many
great performers—indeed Olympians—may be lost in the colorful swirl of lesser
men. The first moppet off a mark at this year's Millrose was Ernest Cardone,
age 13, of The Bronx, who may never know such fame again unless he improves
progressively with age. The final thud was made by High Jumper Charlie Stead,
an utterly relaxed Villanova sophomore, who just switched from the quarter mile
this year and barely missed clearing 6 feet 8� inches after tying Olympian Phil
Reavis for first at 6 feet 8.
In the four hours
between young Cardone's debut and unknown Charlie Stead's final thud some grand
champions came through and some stayed lost in the swirl. A week before the
Millrose, several records were in prospect because some men found courage to
say they felt fit enough for such a try. Feeling fit after beating Olympic
400-meter Champion Charlie Jenkins and tying the 600-yard record in Boston the
week before, Olympic 800-meter Champion Tom Courtney declared that he was out
to beat both the indoor half-mile record and Arnold Sowell. "Last week I
was full of running and tied the 600 record," Courtney contemplated.
"So, logically, I should run the 600 again, but I want the chance to beat
after Sowell the half mile promised to be the duel of the Millrose, and any man
could argue either that Courtney would or that he would not beat Sowell. The
psychological edge lay perhaps with Sowell, who somehow was not seized by the
sense of drama of a duel and quite frankly was training through the Mill-rose
meet, aiming for a good showing in the national 1,000-yard run two weeks later.
"While it may not be nice to say to meet directors who invite you,"
Sowell observed on Millrose eve, "I'm not ready to run my best yet. To be
truthful, I'm a little tired of all the talk about a rivalry. Sometimes it can
help you win, but it can also beat you. Courtney's not the one to take the
lead, but if the pace is slow I'll have to. If I'm out front and thinking too
much about Tom behind me, I'll be running his race, not mine. Tonight,"
Sowell concluded, "I'll see a shoot-'em-up movie, sleep late, read in the
afternoon, and in the race, if the pace is slow, I'll take it."
On the big
Millrose night, with three laps to go, Arnie Sowell found the pace slow, and
swept into a three-yard lead past Courtney and veteran Harry Bright, who had
started the race rolling. Courtney, catching a shinful of spikes in the
jockeying, took out after Sowell, but could only pull up a yard at the tape as
Sowell went across first with a new world indoor record of 1:50.3.
Another who was
hoping for a record was the miler Fred Dwyer. Twice a winner of two-mile events
earlier this year, he decided on the two-mile again at the Millrose. Dwyer's
hopes for a good two-mile time were dashed by gut rumblings which forced him
out of the race on the 14th lap, leaving the race and record with the
traditional owner, 34-year-old Horace Ashenfelter.
fell elsewhere, among men who had less hope for them. Ira Murchison was caught
by the newfangled Cinetimer (SI, Feb. 11) equaling the 60-yard-dash record in
the Mill-rose semifinals. After sniffling with a head cold early in the week)
Olympic Decathlon Champion Milt Campbell took his semifinal of the Millrose
60-yard hurdles, and with amazement heard the officials announce a new world
record of seven seconds flat. "I don't feel that good," Campbell
protested, then in the finals took a sliver-thin lead over Olympic High Hurdle
Champion Lee Calhoun and held it to the tape, again in a record seven seconds
flat. "I still don't feel that good," Campbell insisted.
The 16,000 who
pack the Millrose meetings at the Garden are always record-hungry. Still in the
shadow of the Olympics, it would seem the crowd might be too jaded for anything
except record breaking. It is a wholesome note that this Millrose audience was
appreciative of performances in general and not obsessed with the entries in
the record book.
breakers were properly applauded, but the crowd's biggest whoops went to two
vaulters, Richards and Gutowski, who came close but missed. The pole-vaulting
fields at the meets this winter have been the toughest ever. Snatching a few
hours of weight lifting and jogging in the Norfolk YMCA in the past week while
touring the East, the Rev. Bob Richards made the last plane to New York in time
to meet the strongest field of pretenders ever lined up to try and knock the
Millrose crown from his head. Fifteen-footer Jerry Welbourn is back in action
this year, and Don Bragg is back, his form cleaner and the leg injury that
knocked him out of the Olympics now mended well enough to let him get over 15
feet three times already this year. Olympic runner-up Bob Gutowski of
Occidental, east for his first indoor vaulting season, had taken to the board
runways well, sneaking up 3 inches a meet until he cleared 15 feet in the
Boston AA Games. "I have discovered, when you get used to it," Gutowski
said, "you can get quite a drive off the boards. There is no wind and
nothing can tear up the runway. I started in carefully, feeling my way, and
I've been stalling out at the top. In the Millrose I'm going to slam the pole
in harder and drive with my leg straight up the pole. I'm going with everything
I've got. I don't know who'll get there first," Gutowski speculated.
"Maybe Richards, maybe Bragg. Maybe I'll do it. Sixteen feet is getting
In the Millrose,
Bragg put three bad vaults together and went out at 14 feet 4. At 15 feet
Richards and Gutowski both cleared on their last try. At 15 feet 3 both cleared
on their first vault. At 15 feet 6 Richards made one of the best jumps of his
long vaulting life, clearing with what looked like 4 inches to spare. The crowd
was still rustling about it when Gutowski came down the runway and went over 15
feet 6 with absolutely nothing to spare. On his second try at 15 feet 9
Richards seemed well on the way to the impossible, buoyed up by a great roar
from the crowd. The roar turned into what is probably a record groan for the
Garden. Richards' snap off the pole wasn't smart enough to take him clear. On
his second try at 15 feet 9, Gutowski sneaked over again with nothing to spare
but came down on the crossbar. None of the challengers has yet found a way to
knock the vaulting crown off Richards' head, but some night someone may well
chase him over Cornelius Warmerdam's 14-year-old record of 15 feet 8�