Walt Murphy is one of the finest track statisticians that I know. Walt does This Day in Track & Field History, an excellent daily service that provides true track geek stories about our sport. You can check out the whole service (we just use excerpts) for FREE with a free one-month trial subscription! (email Walt at: WaltMurphy44@gmail.com) for the entire daily service. We will post a few historical moments each day, beginning February 1, 2024.

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By Walt Murphy’s News and Results Service (wmurphy25@aol.com), used with permission.

This Day in Track & Field–April 27



1900—Alvin Kraenzlein’s World (and Relays) Record of 24-3  ½ (7.40) in the Long Jump at the 1899 Relays didn’t last long, with Syracuse’s Myer Prinstein winning at Penn with a leap of 24-7  ¼ (7.50). Kraenzlein finished 2nd with a jump of 23-2  ½ (7.07). Prinstein would win the gold medal in the Triple Jump at the Paris Olympics, while Kraenzlein would win 4 gold medals. Prinstein would win both horizontal jumps at the 1904 Olympics.

The NYAC’s Dick Sheldon won the Shot Put for the 2nd year in a row and was the 1st winner of the Discus. He went on to win the gold medal in the Shot Put in Paris (and bronze in the Discus).

Princeton’s Alexander Coleman was the first winner of the Pole Vault at Penn (10-10[3/30]).






1912—Heavy rains and ankle-deep water on the track hampered the athletes this year at the Penn Relays.

The less-than-ideal conditions didn’t stop Vermont senior Al Gutterson from winning the Long Jump with a leap of 24-3/8 (7.32+), the longest winning jump at Penn in 12 years. He went on to win gold at the Stockholm Olympics later in the year with an Olympic Record mark of 24-11  ¼ (7.60).

Despite the rains, the fastest quarter-mile relay split of the day was a stunning 49.2 . . . by prep school athlete Ted Meredith, faster than the 440y split of 49.8 run by Charlie Reidpath of Syracuse, who went on to win  IC4A and Olympic titles in the 400-meters later in the year in Stockholm.  Meredith would become the Olympic champion and World Record setter in the 800m run, and both ran on the winning 4×400 in Stockholm.






Meredith: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Meredith


1929—The NY Times reported that 45,000 fans turned out on the 2nd day of the Penn Relays to see the incomparable Paavo Nurmi, the “Flying Finn”. The winner of 9 Olympic gold medals at the last 3 Olympics didn’t disappoint, winning the 3-mile in 14:29-1/5.  He had won the 2-mile the day before in 9:15.4, the fastest time ever run in the U.S.

George Simpson anchored Ohio State to victory in the 440-(42.2) and 880-(1:27.0) relays, both of which were run around two turns for the first time at Penn. Simpson also won the 2nd of his 3 Penn titles in the 100-yard dash (9.6).

Phil Edwards anchored NYU to a win in the Sprint Medley for the 2nd year in a row. Representing Canada, he won 5 bronze medals at 3 Olympics–1924-1928-1932(See link).

Yale’s Frederick Sturdy set a Relays Record of 13-5  ½ (4.10+) in the Pole Vault, and Army’s C.E. Green won the Long Jump (23-5  7/8 [7.15+]) and Triple Jump (47-2  3/8 [14.38+]).  Another Relays Record was set by NYU’s David Myers, who threw the Javelin 196-3  ¾ (59.83+).



1934–Jack Torrance had bettered the World Record in the Shot Put on two previous occasions, but his toss of 55-1 ½ (16.80) at the Drake Relays was the first to get official recognition from the IAAF.

WR Progressionhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men’s_shot_put_world_record_progression

1935— LSU, with Glenn “Slats” Hardin (1:53.6), on the anchor, got their first win at Penn in the 2-Mile Relay (7:49.0). It would be 44 years (1979) before the Tigers would win again at the Relays. Hardin also won the 400m-Hurdles (54.7) and  went on to win Olympic gold in Berlin in 1936.

Led by the “original” Ben Johnson, Columbia swept the 440y-(42.3) and 880y-(1:27.1) Relays. A World Indoor Record holder at 60-yards (with wins over Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, the gold and silver medalists in the 100 Meters at the 1936 Olympics), Johnson missed out on a chance to compete in Berlin after suffering an injury prior to the U.S. Trials.

Temple sophomore Eulace Peacock won the Long Jump with a leap of 25-1/4 (7.62+) and the 100-meters in 10.6.




1940— Maryland became the first team to sweep the 3 longest relays:2-Mile (7:48.4), 4-Mile (17:44.8), and Distance Medley (10:12.5) relays at Penn. Running on all 3 teams were Mason Chronister and Jim Kehoe, who, after serving in the Army during World War II, became Maryland’s track coach and then Athletic Director. He was inducted into the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame in 1998.

Jimmy Herbert, who had set World Indoor Records in the 600y (1:10.8) and 600m (1:20.3) during the indoor season, anchored NYU to a win in the Mile Relay (3:16.1).

Georgetown’s Al Blozis won the Shot Put with a toss of 55-5  3/8 (16.89+), almost 3 feet farther than the previous Relays Record of 52-9  ¼ (16.08). Also the winner of the Discus (154-6  1/8 [47.11]), Blozis was inducted into the U.S. Hall of Fame in 2015.








1957—Just 5 months after winning gold medals at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, several athletes also had success at this year’s Penn Relays.

Charlie Jenkins (400,4×400) and Ron Delany (1500) ran on all 3 of Villanova’s winning teams. For the 3rd year in a row, Jenkins anchored the Mile Relay (3:12.7) to victory, while Delany ran the 2nd leg, also for the 3rd year in a row.

Jenkins ran the 440y and 880y lead-off legs, respectively, in the Sprint (3:24.3) and Distance (10:10.7) Medleys, with Delany anchoring both teams.

Indiana’s Greg Bell (Long Jump) won his specialty (26-1  ½[7.96]/Relays Record) and the 100-Yard Dash (9.7).

Also winning their specialties at Penn were North Carolina Central’s Lee Calhoun (110-meter hurdles/13.7y), who would win a 2nd Olympic title in 1960.

Villanova’s Don Bragg (Pole Vault/14-6[4.42]) would win Olympic gold in 1960.

Jenkins, Bell, Calhoun, and Bragg are all members of the National Hall of Fame

In other highlights, Bobby Whilden anchored Texas to wins in the 440y (41.1) and 880y (1:25.4) Relays, and Tom Murphy anchored Manhattan College to a win in the 2-Mile Relay(7.39.0).

Whilden was 75 when he returned to the Relays as a Masters runner in 2011, winning the 75+ 100-meters in 13.68. 13.74. He also won in 2012 (76/13.74), 2016 (80/14.47) and 2017(81/15.65).








1957–Using an aluminum pole, Bob Gutowski jumped 15-8 ¼ (4.78) at Stanford to break “Dutch” Warmerdam’s 15-year old world record (15-7 3/4/4.77) in the pole vault.

WR Progressionhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men’s_pole_vault_world_record_progression


1963 Washington’s Brian Sternberg. set a World Record of 16-5 (ratified as 5.00m) to win the pole vault at the Penn Relays. Sternberg would later jump 16-7 (5.05) and 16-8 (5.08) that spring, but his career came to a tragic end when he suffered a spinal cord injury on July 2 while practicing flips on a trampoline.

Tom Kenney had double-duty on the anchor leg of Fordham’s winning teams in the 2-Mile (7:33.4) and

4-mile (16:42.7) Relays. Running the 2nd leg for Fordham on the 4-Mile team, which smashed the previous Relays Record of 17:11.3, was none other than the late Norb Sander, the winner of the 1974 NY City Marathon and the man most responsible for the rebirth of NY’s Armory. Both of Fordham’s wins were considered upsets.

Another future luminary in the sport, Larry Rawson, anchored Boston College to a surprise win in the Distance Medley (10:01.3 [4-26]). Rawson has enjoyed a 4-decade career as one of the sport’s leading TV commentators.

Maryland State’s (now UMES) Charlie Mays won the Long Jump (24-1[7.34]) for the 2nd year in a row.


Roommates: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/othersports/123332_forty23.html


Video Highlightshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV4zHbadjFM

Rawson shares his memories of the DMR:

“The 880 leg went out slowly and became a kicker’s race. Jim Owens fought hard and kept us close to the lead. Jim handed off to Bob Gilvey who ran another excellent leg for the 440 . Phil Jutras , nicknamed on the team “Joot the jet”, ran a great leg for us in the 1320… I always thought his talent was enormous but for years battled through many injuries. on a soft cinder track, on a cool blustery day. Phil outkicked, Villanova’s great Tom Sullivan on the last lap of the ¾-leg and brought the baton in first to me on the handoff.

I was worried about 2 things. Frank Tomeo was anchoring for Fordham and had 1.47 880 yard speed, and Pat Traynor, Villanova’s future Olympic Steeplechaser, was running anchor and got the baton right behind me. The prior Spring, he had outkicked me for 2nd at the IC4A’s ( 4.06. 9 to 4.07.1 ). They had more sprint speed than I did and I didn’t want it to come down to a kicker’s race .

Our coach never got the splits in the race, but my guess was 58 or so for the first lap. I was trying to get away and on the back stretch of the second lap, where Villanova had a large cheering section, it took a lot longer before I heard them yelling for Pat than it did on the first lap. By the third lap I heard no yelling, even though I was starting to feel the effects of the pace. Even though I died on the last lap, the lead was big enough to give us the victory. What a thrill!!!! The Penn Relays was the first place I ever ran, a mile relay in H.S., and years later a DMR title!!! Penn is the Holy Grail of our sport.”

Fordham-Reliving Penn Glory (50 Years Later)

by Elliott Denman — posted on 4/28/2013 at Armorytrack.com

“Everybody has a different story,” jokes Dr. Norbert Sander. “We’re four guys and there are four different versions of how it happened. “And I guess that’s logical. After all, it’s been 50 years.”

The one thing not subject to debate is that ‘Doc’ Sander — and his three undersung Fordham University teammates, Matteo Cucciarra, Joe McGovern and Tom Kenney — scored one of the biggest upsets in the 119-year history of the Penn Relays when they won the Championship of America college four-mile relay title in 16:42.7 at the then-still cinder-tracked Franklin Field in 1963, demolishing the prior Penn record of 17:11.3 — set four years earlier by Penn State — by a whopping 28.6 seconds.

They were saluted as Class of 2013 Penn Relays Wall of Fame honorees at a gala gathering at The Palestra Friday night, and they were saluted all over again — before the huge Franklin Field crowd — on a sun-splashed Saturday program at the classic Penn carnival.

It was the Oregon Ducks first in the 2013 four-mile relay, which honored the Fordham team — but their 16:17.57 was just 25.13 faster than those ’63 Rams — on a track rated “at least a second faster per lap, maybe more than that, than Penn’s old cinder track,” by Cucciarra, and probably everyone else who was there.

“We were running against some great teams, some real powers,” said Dr. Sander. “Teams like Michigan, Georgetown, Villanova, Seton Hall, Notre Dame. “Fordham?  Nobody gave us a chance.”

Except perhaps famed Rams’ coach Artie O’Connor and his four baton-bearers. O’Connor gave anchorman Kenney a jolt of pre-race negative psychology,

“If you’re in it, stay with it,” he allegedly told Kenney. “But if you’re not in it, drop out and save yourself for the distance medley.”

Kenney more than “stayed in it.”  He ran the fastest mile of his life — a 4:04.9, after an opening 58-second lap. Despite its immense prestige in the collegiate footracing game, over a long span of years heading into the 1963 Penn Relays, Fordham hadn’t won a Championship of America title since Olympic champion-to-be Tom Courtney, and teammates Bill Persichetty, Terrence Foley and Frank Tarsney — an eventual world-record quartet — took the two-mile relay final in 1954.

But, after adding the two-mile relay crown to its four-mile title in ’63, and adding another two-mile title in 1967, Fordham hasn‘t won a “big one” at Penn in the ensuing 45 years.

So that epic ’63 win adds even greater luster with every passing edition of “the Penns.”

“Holy Moses, Villanova was in shock when it was over, ” said Dr. Sander. “Everybody else, too, I guess.

“It just was our day.  Each of us probably ran the race of our lives. When Tom Kenney got the baton, though, we knew we were in good shape. He was our best man and we knew he was ready.  All of us were, actually.”

Sure enough, Kenney brought it home with his lifetime-best and the deed was done. “I remember, warming up, there was Villanova, they had those great runners, Tom Sullivan, Pat Traynor and Vic Zwolak,” said Cucciarra.

So as the warming-up Wildcats pranced by, Cucciarra pointed fingers and said “jinx, jinx, jinx.”

The magic touch apparently worked.

“The pace was real slow at the beginning, maybe a 2:08 first half,” said Cucciarra. “We were just schlepping along. No one wanted to take it out, so I did, with 660 to go. “I was amazed when no one went by me.  They were probably saying, ‘Who are these guys?’ And they didn’t seem to care, either.”

Well, Cucciarra ran 4:15.5, Sander 4:12.6, McGovern 4:09.7 and Kenney did the rest(4:04.9). Fordham would add the two-mile title — Carmine DelGrosso, McGovern, Frank Tomeo and Kenney running 7:33.4 — and the Rams’ meet of all meets was complete.  Read the full story at:


1963–Al Oerter threw 205-5 ½ (62.62) at the Mt.Sac Relays to better his own World Record in the discus by 7 inches and Arizona State ran 3:04.5 to set a WR in the Mile Relay. The Sun Devils ran with a lineup of Mike Barrick (48.0), Henry Carr 45.1), Ron Freeman(45.6) and Ulis Williams(45.8).

Calling the race for the ASU radio station was none other than Al Michaels, who would go on to become one of the premier TV sports announcers in the business!

Said Michaels years later, while preparing to call another Super Bowl, “…one of the most amazing things that never gets enough publicity is when the Arizona State mile relay team set the world record at the Mt. San Antonio (College) Relays”.

While working with NBC at a recent Olympics, Michaels, an avid track fan, challenged Tom Jennings and myself to name the 4 runners on the Arizona State team. The pressure was on, since we were hired as NBC’s T&F “experts”, but this was a relatively easy trivia question for two lifelong track fans, and we quickly rattled off the 4 names!

WR Progression(Discus)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men’s_discus_world_record_progression

Michaels: https://www.azcentral.com/story/entertainment/media/2022/02/11/al-michaels-super-bowls-arizona-state-world-record/6725717001/

1968—Villanova became the first school in Penn Relays history to win five relays. 12 Wildcats earned Relays watches this weekend, with one providing a moment that will live forever in Penn history.

Running in the Mile Relay, the final event of the weekend, Larry James caught  Rice’s Dale Bernauer before the ½-way point of the anchor leg and never let up, finishing off Villanova’s Relays Record of 3:06.1 with a phenomenal 43.9y split, the fastest time ever run for 1 lap! (The world records at the time were 44.5m/44.8y).

Dubbed “The Mighty Burner” by a teammate, James, considered a promising 400-meter hurdler when the season started (he finished 4th in the 440y version on Friday-52.0), would win a silver medal in the 400-meters and gold in the 4×400 relay at the Mexico City Olympics later in the year.

Dave Patrick anchored 3 of Villanova’s winning teams, but neither he nor James was named the meet’s Outstanding Performer. That honor went to teammate Frank Murphy, who ran splits of 1:49.1, 4:04.1, and a great 2:53.0 on the ¾-leg on the DMR.

Mile Relay—3:06.1 (Relays Record)  Hardge Davis (47.6), Hal Nichter (47.2), Ken Prince (47.4), Larry James (43.9)

2-Mile Relay—7:21.8  Craig Nation (1:50.5), Charlie Messenger (1:52.1), Frank Murphy (1:49.1), Dave Patrick (1:50.1)

4-Mile Relay—16:27.4 (Relays Record) Ian Hamilton (4:12.2), Tom Donnelly (4:04.2), Charlie Messenger (4:06.9), Frank

Murphy (4:04.1)

Sprint Medley—3:18.1  Larry James (46.2), Bob Whitehead, Erv Hall, Dave Patrick (1:49.9)

Distance Medley(4-26)—9:37.9  Ian Hamilton (1:50.9), Bob Whitehead (48.9), Frank Murphy (2:53.0), Dave Patrick


Florida A&M, using the same lineup of Nat James, Major Hazleton, Gene Milon, and Jim Ashcroft that they used the previous two years, won the 4×100 (40.4) for the 3rd year in a row, and tossed oranges (from Florida, of course) into the stands during their victory lap! The quartet was added to the Relays Wall of Fame in 2022.

Toledo’s Aaron Hopkins set a Collegiate Record of 53-5  ¼ (16.28+) in the Triple Jump.

Boston University’s David Hemery won the 440y-Hurdles in 50.7, a Relays Record, and he went on to win the gold medal (and set a World Record of 48.1) in the 400-meter Hurdles in Mexico City.

Tennessee’s Richmond Flowers edged Villanova’s Erv Hall in the 120y-Hurdles, with both timed in 13.5. Hall would win the silver medal at the Mexico City Olympics.

In Olympic Development races, Charlie Greene (9.4) beat Bill Gaines (9.5) in the 100-Yard Dash and Leon Coleman won the 120y-(13.6) and 440y-(50.8) Hurdles.  Greene would win silver (100m) and gold (4×100) in Mexico City, while Coleman would finish 4th in the 110m-Hurdles.

Al Oerter won the O.D. Discus with a throw of 196-4 (59.84?) and would go on to win an unprecedented 4th Olympic gold medal in Mexico City later in the year.