Monday, September 29, 2008

Penn Relays Memories:



My first experience at the Penn Relays was in the mid 70's on a Saturday afternoon. We sat in the closed-in end high up in the stands, scrunched between the dueling fraternities (chanting) and the Jamaicans beating their drums and smoking something quite aromatic. The races were being run every 5 minutes like clockwork, as timed by the big P*E*N*N*S*Y*L*V*A*N*I*A clock at the other end of the track. Nothing is quite like Penn Relays, as anyone who ever ran there or just sat in the stands oooohhhing at every 400 meter stud running by knows. My recent expose on the 4x800 relay brought out some thoughts by Randy Moore, the anchor of that relay. His memories are worth $20 as promised in the previous post, provided he golfs with us in May! The memories are actually worth much more than that....(I'm wondering if Randy has a PSU degree in Literature??)

-Skwilli

running anchor was always nerve racking. you had at least 5 long minutes of waiting and watching while your teammates ran their hearts out. you'd jog around and try to shake loose. but that day, when Millsy had 200 meters to go, it hit me. this is it. i'm not the sophomore this year happy to make the traveling team. i need to bring the baton home - in first - the way my teammates brought it to me. then my heart really started pounding. the crowd roared as Millsy made his move. with Millsy 100 meters away, I saw the long shadow of the teams lined up in the exchange zone - we were the anchor men. we were jammed together Penn Relays style. we were anxious - and ready to pop. i remember thinking here we go. it was D day, except the enemy was a cocky kid named miles irish. how do you compete against someone named miles? my mom should have names me something tougher like, squirrel hill or Julian pike.

millsy came in hard and and i took off. wow, i remember thinking - perfect stick! i ran the first 500 meters on nerves. i remember thinking, "smooth and relaxed". at 500 meters i felt Miles closing behind. 'ok, the race starts here' i remember thinking. 'take it off autopilot'. i knew the first 400 was fast enough but not too fast. at 200 meters to go i saw a shadow again, right behind mine and heard the imperative command 'no ******* way'. i dropped the hammer in a way i'd never done before, and maybe never done after. i just ran. my very own forest gump moment.

the rest is a blur. i don't remember any pain. i don't remember any thoughts or chants like i always did to finish strong. i just ran. everything was silent. i didn't know where the tape was and i think i ran 20 meters too far. I missed the photo op with my arms raised in victory. i didn't care. it was over and we were victorious.

we were all different people on that team. we were all competitive, but on that day we were one. on that day were were the best - best in the world that year. that day we were pure and sublime. and we made Harry cry - which really was something special.

-Randy Moore



Saturday, September 27, 2008

Great Performances #2:

Last time we checked in with great performances, Don Ziter braved the wrath of Coach Groves by running a trio of fraternity races unrivaled in modern history. Unfortunately, anyone checking the facts realized I had taken some liberties with the timing of the events. The basic gist of the report was accurate, however. I have since fired all the fact checkers working for the blog! Also, anyone paying attention realizes I incurred brain damage in 1978 when I tore my groin in fencing class, causing me to remember a meet with Villanova that apparently never happened.

Finally, I can report on a great performance without having to make it up! In one of the greatest performances in Penn State History, the 1985 4X800 team of Vance Watson (1:49.2), Steve Shisler (1:47.9), Chris Mills (1:48.5) and Randy Moore (1:45.5) won the Championship of America at The Penn Relays. The time (7:11.17) still stands as the Number 2 All-Time Collegiate mark. At the time, it was the Number 1 ranked 4X800 in the world. The 4-man team was elected to the Penn Relays Hall of Fame in 2000.

I was actually there, in the front row, exactly opposite the start/finish line. It was the best race I have ever watched. (And I watched the Rono/Salazar XC duel in '79 and Craig Virgin in the World XC Champs at The Meadowlands in 1984.) It was either that year, or in 1983 when PSU won its first 4X800 Championship, that Barb Black saw Coach Groves up in the stands with tears in his eyes, asking her not to tell anyone. That lasted about 4 minutes until she found me!

Steve has golfed with us every year but one, I believe. I have pestered Randy to come next year and I have him in the "possible" category along with Larry Mangan. Give them all a shout-out by email to encourage them to come next year. Chris and Vance aren't on my email lists, so anyone out there in "the internets" could help us out by contacting them. Let's get them together for an "after" photo!

And now, what's a great story without a really cliched movie to go with it. Quit complaining, it is only 1:25 long.

video

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Mish-Mash of Topics:


1. Former Champion Coach Bill Whittaker '73 golfed in the Kevin Dare Golf Tournament on Monday afternoon and brought our group up in discussions with Jess Riden, Director of PSU Track and Cross-Country. Thank you, to Coach Whittaker! Jess has responded with a nice offer of up-to-date PSU records and email lists, which will help us immensely. She is, in turn, letting Coach Sullivan know about our presence and promises to help in our reunion efforts! She apparently did not recol in horror upon viewing our web-site (as it is) for the first time. The physics references probably threw her off at first, but then again physics is my secret passion. I don't expect anyone to understand.

2. Former Champion and 1500m Record Holder Steve Balkey '88 will also be spreading the good word of PSU Track Alumni Golf to the 90's and 00's guys at the Penn State National XC meet on Friday, Oct. 17. Lets wish him well in the task and hope he doesn't strain anything important.

3. Keep all our Track alum brethren embroiled in the current financial crisis in your thoughts. While the current situation affects us all, many of our compatriots derive their living in the field. Let's hope our congress doesn't add to the problem by undertaking another money grab as they often do!* There are no good guys in this mess, just worse and worser guys. And the rest of us who have to pick up the pieces.

4. The last 3 sleeves of Noodle Ice balls are up for grabs. Signs ups are already at 13 (more than last year already!). With the upcoming ability to contact new track alums, I'm betting the last 3 sleeves will go fast. I may purchase some additional balls for the laggards in our group, but they would only recieve 1 measly ball. And 3 balls are better than 1, especially if you are fond of hitting ponds, lakes, creeks and out-of-bounds like I am. I try to make a 6000 yard course into a 10k if at all possible. Update: We are down to 1 Sleeve of Noodles left!

5. Calvin's preferred breakfast cereal is indeed Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs.

6. Join Larry Mangan as a follower of the official PSU Track and Field Alumni golf blog!

*Arbitrary political thoughts are frowned upon by the officers of the group. Although I was confirmed prescient in my analysis, as Barney Frank and the boys have grabbed the entire US economy from us working stiffs!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Kevin Dare Golf Tourney :


I sent $50 to the Kevin Dare Scholarship fund today in the name of PSU Track and Field Alumni Golf. Today is the Third Annual Kevin Dare Golf Tournament at both the White and Blue Golf Courses. (It would be great if we could fill up both courses in coming years.) Coach Whittaker is currently hitting little white balls all over the hills and dales of University Park, representing our group with esteem, I'm sure. He is a 2008 Champion, (sort of!).

I have always had a healthy respect for pole vaulters since living with Don Skerpon in 1979-80. The combination of strength, speed and technique needed for good vaulting far surpasses any abilities I ever had. When Don switched to a longer pole in 1980, I couldn't even carry it down the runway!

Kevin was a talented vaulter and it is good to know he is being remembered by his family and friends and KevinDare.com. Click on the headline to this post to check out the web site.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

LetsRun.com and The Iona Meet of Champions:



A recent foray to LetsRun.com proved eye-opening. I mentioned this blog on a thread there and it tripled our traffic the first day. A message on our message board came from a SC fan and son of a former PSU track coach. His memories of Rec Hall track meets are humorous. Imagine running a hurdles race up on that track!!

It also gave us an interesting discussion of the good/bad current PSU XC program. I note that today, the mens team came in 2nd to Michigan at the prestigiuos Iona Meet of Champions at storied Van Cortlandt Park. The women's team won both the team race and the individual race. I see some good progress, but with some room to improve to reach the heights of the 1977-1979 program.

Also, the thread provided a great listing of the PSU 1500/mile records:

1500
3:38.99 Steve Balkey 87*
3:39.25 Larry Mangan 80*
3:42.08 Doug Walter 90
3:42.12 David McMillen 88
3:42.2 (redacted) 77
3:42.2 Michael Wyatt 77
3:42.69 Aidan O’Reilly 92
3:42.93 Robert Snyder 78
3:42.93 Bob Hamer 84
3:43.58 Matthew Lincoln 06

Mile
3:58.4 Larry Mangan 80*
4:00.4 Greg Fredericks 72*
4:00.5 (redacted) 77
4:01.2 Robert Snyder 78
4:01.7 Ed Moran 58
4:01.98 Samuel Borchers 08
4:02.8 Dan Supulski 72
4:03.3 Alan Scharsu 80*
4:03.72 Matthew Lincoln 06
4:04.7 Michael Wyatt 7
7

*PSU Track and Field Alumni Golfers

In addition, the Noodle Ice balls have arrived! They are even better looking than I had hoped for. The clear coating indeed looks like they are coated in ice. The dimples are pentagonal and the laser etching says "Penn State Track Alumni Golf 2009". Only 8 sleeves remain, so get your entry in to secure your set. A bonus memento of next year's record get-together.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Second Sub-4 Checks In:


The stable of sub-4 milers in the PSU Track Alumni Golf Community stands at two. Greg Fredericks joined us last year as Course Marshall and Queensbury Rules interpreter. Larry Mangan golfed with us in one of the early events, and has checked in lately to correct my errors in reporting. These facts have been confirmed by Mark Haywood, thus affirming the early Alzheimers diagnosis I have been dreading. (Alas, Mark is not a sub-4 miler!).

Rather than being embarrassed by my obvious lack of cognitive abilities, I will muster on, writing drivel by the notebook full, attempting to unite PSU Track Alumni to participate in our Reunion efforts. Can you help out a poor, forgetful colleague? And can you bring three dates for my friends? Fawn Lebouitz would be forever grateful.

Larry, I'll put you in the "possible" category!

Update: The Alzheimers diagnosis may be premature. In checking my voluminous records, I have realized that I was indeed injured at the time of whatever track meet I tried to remember. A freak phys. ed. class injury rendered my groin unsuitable for running. (Only a stupid sophomore would elect fencing as an adjunct to Coach Groves' workouts!)

Bermuda Triangle of PSU Track Alumni Found:

I did not know what peril Gary and I were in last week when we ventured to The West Shore Country Club. It turns out, the area is known to swallow up PSU Track alums, never allowing them to be heard from again. Mark Haywood and Jeff Sanden are lucky we thought of them, they have been saved from a life of anonymity by the generous arm of The PSU Track Alumni Golf Outreach Program.

In just this 1/2 mile circle, 5 PSU Track alums have succumbed to the evil forces. We were not able to save Chris Herr yet, and Bruce McLanahan and his brother G. McLanahan have not yet been heard from. In addition, the area was also home to Mary Rawe, central PA's running phenom now married to fellow Track alum golfer (and former champion) Tom Rapp. We think she escaped the darkness by moving to Ohio, but neither of them have been heard from in several years. Does the long arm of malevolence reach more than 400 miles?

Note the green at the left side of the circle. Skwilli actually parred this hole, proving the bizarre potential of this dangerous parcel of land! My 7-iron into the first hole was prettier than McCain's running mate!*

*(from Jeff Sanden) Arbitrary political quotes not endorsed by officers of the group.

Warning, Bleg (blog begging) coming... Please send in a little something to the till so we can continue the humanitarian efforts in saving other Track Alums from the scourge of anonymity!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An Apparent Skwilli Fantasy: Jumbo Elliott Thwarted on a Junior High Track??




The year was 1978 and the schedule said PSU was to have a dual meet against the mighty Villanova Wildcats, coached by the legendary Jumbo Elliott. The only problem was, PSU no longer had a track due to the renovations on Beaver Stadium. Sprinters and field event athletes had to get a ride to practice that year, and the distance runners had a longer warm-up and warm-down for workouts. It didn't stop PSU from excelling, however.

Westerly Parkway Junior High School became the scene for the "Battle of the Titans", pitting Elliott against Coach Groves in a winner take all, steel-cage grudge match (a grudge match anyway!) Seemingly outmanned, PSU had lost distance star Paul Stemmer the previous year (I hope to graduation!*) The remaining stars were mostly young scholarship athletes or up-and-coming walk-ons. With perennial Penn Relays distance medley and 4x800 stars Don Paige and Mark Belger, as well as nationally known newcomer Anthony Tufariello, Villanova had a seeming edge in the middle-distance races. They also had an edge in the shorter races and in the field events, especially the pole vault. Two 17-foot vaulters towered over the 15-foot vaulters of PSU.

When the sprinters, hurdlers (Paul Lankford) and field men outperformed their Villanova rivals and the middle-distance and distance runners held their own, it all came down to the final event, the pole vault. When the rain started in the middle of the meet, many payed it no mind. The Villanova vaulters, however, found the slippery conditions too much to handle and no-heighted. The PSU vaulters, in turn, vaulted their usual 15 foot heights, winning the meet and sending the wildcats back to the Main Line with their tails between their legs.**


**Details may be out of order, or hopelessly confused by a college freshman's poor recollection. Actually, everything is in dispute. I may not even have the year or the opponent correct. Numerous inquiries with teammates have led me nowhere. Can anyone help us out? Reliable sources say Maryland with Nehemiah came to town, but probably in 1977 when I was still in high school. I distinctly remember Anthony T. and I wouldn't know him otherwise.

What Will it Take to Bring PSU Track Back to the Top?

Last year's Big Ten performance showed PSU Mens track is on the upswing. The Women's team performance was unparalleled in its history. What will it take to make the push over the top in the NCAA Championships?

Little Chocolate Donuts and cigarettes , apparently. Our little blog is getting into the hard-hitting news field with scoops like this.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

ALUMNI OUTREACH SUCCESSFUL: PSU Track Alumni Rookie Schools 2 Former Champions:




The Penn State Track and Field Alumni Golf Outreach Program reached The West Shore Country Club in Camp Hill recently. Both Jeff Sanden, '82 and Mark Haywood, '81 were pleased to see us and provided unparalleled courtesy and munificence. After a pleasant lunch, the nine holes breezed by in a flash. In the end my "D" golfer status shone through despite a par on the initial hole.* Gary hung in tough, but the new hips are still not allowing the 300 yard drives of the past. Jeff easily eclipsed us both, despite constantly hitting further left than Barack Obama's rhetoric**. Jeff is looking forward to the Coach Groves Memorial and the reunion with Alumni luminaries like Rob Whiteside and Don and Lynne Ziter. Mark couldn't golf with us this time, but is interested in putting at the tourney next Spring (pending approval of Clark and Leggett).

Before arriving at the Country Club we attempted to visit Chris Herr at his palatial estate nearby. However, we were rebuffed by the security forces and the hounds.*** Chris, we want you to come back. Drop us a line. Also living nearby was Coach Groves' mile-standout in the late 60's, Bruce McLanahan, the former mayor of Camp Hill! (I bounced many a check at McLanahan's in the late 70's; hope he's not related!)

YOU may be next for an Alumni Outreach unless you sign up now! Visit the message board and tell me who to visit next.

*54 for 9 holes (never broke 100 for 18 holes, and apparently not going to anytime soon)

**Arbitrary political references not necessarily endorsed by Group Officers. (Although I'm sure there will be more coming.)

***It turns out we were at his neighbors house, a Mr. Montgomery Burns, who heads the nearby Three Mile Island nuclear plant. Sorry for the confusion. (Smithers, release the hounds!)

Extra-Special Super-Duper Tremendous Bonus!!


Due to an influx of some unexpected donation moolah, a sleeve of splendiferous personalized golf balls will be available to the next 10 committed golfers, (sign-up required on the web-site form!). Those already signed up will also receive a sleeve. Restrictions apply. One sleeve per customer. No exchanges. Complaints not accepted. If you don't know if you are signed up yet, you're not. (Clark, I signed you up but I need your address for the record.) The current count shows 8 confirmed, 18 probable, 19 possible and 1000 unknown. It's going to be a crowded, talented field for this year's Coach Harry Groves Memorial Tournament!

Gary assures me that Noodle Ice balls are not for sissy girls (Women, you'll still get some). (Female participation will be at an all-time high next year! I expect good behavior from all you clowns.) ( Remember, all are welcome, we are especially interested in attracting participation from female team members to join Beth Shisler.) These personalized memorial balls will be a keepsake you can pass on to future generations. More than that lousy husband of yours will provide!

Keep those donations coming boys, and we can add numerous things to the goodie bags! I have my eyes on several great things (not the naked-lady tees, Clark). I have decided to provide t-shirts for everyone, on me. You're welcome. Think of me in the poor-house occasionally!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

End of Earth Again Debated

I have a bet of 100 dollars that we won't find the Higgs," added Hawking, whose books including "A Brief History of Time"


Official PSU Track Alumni Physicist Stephen Hawking and Nelson Mandela bet against the end of the Earth following the start of the CERN Supercollider in Europe. Some fear that in the search for the "God Particle", black holes will be created destroying the Earth in 8 seconds. (Not kidding! If so, the Tourney is postponed indefinitely!) We already know that only if Coach Groves name appears on the Memorial Cup, will conditions be right for such a catastrophe.

http://psutafalumnigolf.blogspot.com/2008/06/end-of-universe-narrowly-avoided.html

Apparently the Earth was not destroyed on initial testing, but the "big bang" stuff is yet to come. Stephen has not yet won the bet.

Addendum: (9/19/08):http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,425405,00.html

Sunday, September 7, 2008

SIGN UP, YOU COWARDS! (Or I'll Bite!)



If you know you are coming to the Golf Tourney, or if you have a high probability of coming, please sign up on the form (Click on the title of this post, or the line below the photo of Guido the Pomeranian, or the photo of Coach Groves to take you there.) Money is not yet required, and you can lock in your 20% off last year's rate by signing up now! No Mafia members, Shot Putters or Hammer Throwers will appear on your doorstep if you later back out! The fee for the weekend will be strictly applied by the sign up on the web form. Only those signed up by 12/31/08 will reap the $30 savings offered. (Even Clark!) This will help us figure out our needs for Hotel rooms, hole-in-one prize insurance, gift bag goodies, t-shirt requirements... Clark, Harry Smith and I will be forever grateful (well at least 10 minutes or so anyway). My unofficial count has around eight confirmed, sixteen probably committed golfers (maybe I should be committed for taking this on) and nineteen possibly interested golfers. That is more than double last year's total, but short of our goal. I know its early, but I refuse to let this event die, as we had to invariably discuss last year.

All of you can help simply by talking to another track alum who doesn't know about us. You can also help by participating on and visiting this web site often. Every link and hit adds to our footprint in the ether of the internet. We are starting to get hits from all over as people google things like "steeplechase" and "Heather Carmichael" only barely mentioned on this site. Stop by daily if only to view Calvin and Hobbes. All monies so far spent have been donated by other generous track alums and myself and all future donations are put 100% toward The Coach Groves Scholarship or for the betterment of The Coach Groves Tournament and Reunion event. Send us even a small amount and you will be richly rewarded. All web site operating costs are being donated by me. (Open those "alligator arms" as Clark would say.)

Addendum: A web site hit from Chappaqua NY today!!! Could it be an ex-POTUS or current Senator not invited to be a vice-POTUS by B. H. Obama???

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Greek Comedy/Tragedy in 3 Parts:



This is the First in a Series of Great Performances. You may not see any of it in the PSU record books, but it is a trio of races as worthy of mention as any I have encountered. Coach Groves had a modicum of rules, but high on the list were 1. Don't Join a Fraternity and 2. Don't run extra races during the school year.
Don Ziter took on the first his sophomore year and Sigma Pi was the better for it. He weathered the storm of Coach's ire for the next two years and then decided to double down. Would he run one "extra" race for his fraternity brothers? How about two? No, three seems more like it, or at least did in 1978-1981 to a young, possibly adult-beverage-addled team member.

As shown in the photo, Don ran the Delta Chi Marathon relay for Sigma Pi. (Gary and Steve Black were also forced into it by TEP, as the other brothers were too busy firing pistols at the gas lines in the basement!). When his well-coifed visage appeared in the Daily Collegian, Coach chewed a hole in his blues and grays each day for a week. That gave Don, a soon-to-be college graduate as it were, a brilliant idea for the Panhellenic 5K. When he won, he refused to give his name. But Coach Groves, a Masters degree-holding, wily veteran of a few years took all of ten minutes to realize who it was when it appeared in the Collegian as "name withheld upon request".

Not to be outdone, Don decided to run the granddaddy of them all "The Phi Psi 500". Todays team members and recent alums won't recognize the significance of this event. But in the day, the Phi Psi 500 was a beer-mile run through the town's adult-beverage houses. Starting in 1988 or so, they started substituting soda at one bar each year until it became a soda-mile (pop-mile for you guys from Pittsburgh). At that point, who cares. But in 1981, Don cared enough and would have won the event if he hadn't spilled the last beer on his shirt (he did drink an extra one and then seemingly won the event, only to be disqualified by his wet shirt.) His reward was the best "boot"("hurl" for those from Pittsburgh) of his life and a thank-you from his Sigma Pi brothers.

By this time Coach had given up on the fraternity thing and didn't even put up a fuss. Thus, the tragedy after the comedy in three parts.

Note: 1. the hair 2. the shorts and 3. the shirt ( Maryland Marathon 1977, where are you Ralph Hoffman?)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Penn State University - LionCams


Live views of multiple spots on campus
 
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