20th Annual Penn State Track and Field/XC Reunion

And SAVE THE DATE! The Executive Committee meeting of the Officers of the Group convened and chose the dates for the 2022 Reunion and Coach Groves Golf Tournament. This will be the 20th anniversary of the formulation of this whole shebang, and you better SAVE THE DATE!! So set aside May 13th and 14th, 2022. (Each year will alternate between May and August) We will be going all out for this event and you won't want to miss it. Adult beverages, camaraderie with old and new friends, mediocre golf, AND LIVE MUSIC FROM PROFESSIONALS! Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pole Vaulting Involves Tons of Physics

Brian Boyer has responded! He assures me that the Hadron Collider will NOT end the world when it is turned on this summer. (Good news, I suppose, but I was thinking of spending my 201K* if chances were good). Brian relates Ron Moore should also be in the running to become the official PSU Track Alumni Physicist. Brian states that Ron is "faster and smarter". However, our inclusive group doesn't discriminate on the basis of speed or intelligence (sex, occupation, age or political orientation!). Slow, stupid people like me and Clark Haley have risen to the top of our group through sheer determination and persistence. With any effort at all, everyone can become an idiot officer of our group! If Ron or Brian golf with us, they will replace Stephen Hawking as the Official Physicist.

Apparently, tiny black holes ARE created when these colliders are functioning the way they are supposed to. Brian, through Ron, assures us that none of these will propagate to emperil the whole world. Even though this means we will have many more Coach Harry Groves Golf Tournaments to come, there is no excuse to miss this year's event.

Don Skerpon (the photo is of Don's son Luke) has also communicated over the ether of the internet to let us know he is coming to the event for the first time. And yes, pole-vaulters are welcomed with open arms at our event as long as we don't have to haul those stupid tubes on the side of the golf carts to handle your poles. As pole vaulting done properly involves all kinds of applied physics, it is one of my favorite events. Just because it is the only decathlon event I would take a zero in, doesn't mean I don't like it.

Don also spun a yarn about his flight home from his honeymoon in Hawaii. When making a transfer at San Francisco, he shared a plane with Coach Groves! Coincidence, I think not! Coach has always been EVERYWHERE. My freshman year, Coach would appear twice in every 10 miler, sometimes out in the woods in the middle of no-where. I never talked about it, sometimes I figured it wasn't real. If I mentioned it, maybe I would be hauled away by the white-coats. Can anyone allay my fears; was Coach really there?

Folks, this means we're working on our 7th foursome! Keep it coming guys (and girls!). Remember, you don't need a foursome to enter, we assign them the night before following a complicated procedure involving alcohol, pizza crusts and an alphabetical system centered on the letter "D". In order to be prepared for the event, non-regular golfers are encouraged to watch a Tiger Woods commercial and have mini-golfed at least once in the previous ten years. Our rule of thumb is, go mini-golfing whenever you renew your passport. That will keep you ready for the rigors of our tournament.

*Continued use of political statements threaten the integrity of this blog.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Great Performance #9: Hanging with "The Beast"

Another boring day at work, another stupendous PSU Track Alumni Golf Great Performance.

In a first, this one involves good golf. (And a sprinter!) When Paul Mundy brought "The Beast" out of his bag on the par 5 5th at the Elks Club in 2008, no one could have foreseen the results, nor the controversy it brought. No one could have anticipated the antipathy from Clark Haley's foursome, nor the Congressional Inquiry that later resulted. No one could comprehend Coach's use of The Queensbury Rules to settle the dispute. The "Bird House Hole" never saw three more beautiful shots than Paul bestowed in Happy Valley that day. The first-shot was the disputed one. Technically, it was supposed to stay to the left of the bird house at all times. Whether it did or didn't, it ended to the left of the house, and narrowly avoided the rough and the lake. Coach insists the Queensbury Rules trump any stupid local golf course rules, and the shot stood. A beautiful second shot by Paul (the finest of the day) nestled just 3 or 4 inches from the pin for an easy tap-in for eagle. This was only the second eagle in our 7 years. (Who holed out the fairway shot in 2006?) Update: via Clark, it was Rick Kanuck or a blind squirrel!

The Congressional Inquiry was later discontinued, when Congress realized there was no tax-payer's money up for grabs.* Who knows what mayhem will ensue at this year's tourney? Will Barney Frank attend? Will a boxing match break out on the links?

*Political opinions are not endorsed by blog officers.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Physics Update: End of the World, Again?

Again, physicists are asking questions about the Hadron Collider and the possible end of the world this summer when it is finally switched on.


Could this be the last Coach Harry Groves Golf Outing in May? Don't miss out, sign up today!

PSU Track Alum physicists are encouraged to respond. (Brian Boyer, this means you!)

Wouldn't any of you want a tattoo of Stephen Hawking* on your leg?

*Official PSU Track Alumni Physicist, (only because Richard Feynman is dead and Brian hasn't golfed with us yet!)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Old-School Journalism is Back!

PSU Track Alumni Golfers will be attending and Reporting on two upcoming Indoor Meets. These highly paid positions* are the first attempts to bring good old-fashioned reporting to this blog. As you can see, highly coveted Press Credentials have been issued for those difficult to obtain Up-Close and Personal Exposes.

Tim Backenstose will be attending the Penn State National Meet on January 30-31 at the Horace Ashenfelter III Track. His assignment for stories and photos should bring us our very first direct interaction with the current team. Let's all wish him luck with this groundbreaking work.

Gary Black and I will be attending The Big Ten Men's Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb 28 and March 1 at the Ashenfelter Indoor Facility. We will be spreading the word on The Coach Harry Groves Golf Tournament and PSU Track Alumni Golf. We will also be attending the alumni gathering at Damon's at 7:00 PM on Saturday with previews of our Gift Packs, decals, magnets and sales of our T-shirts. Stop by if you are able and support the conception of the largest and most dynamic track and field alumni group in the entire world. All proceeds go to the golf outing and the Harry Groves Endowment. Anyone wishing to attend the alumni gathering is encouraged to email an RSVP to Jess Riden at jnr126@psu.edu

*results may vary.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Great Performance # 8: Practice Makes Perfect

Larry Mangan provides us with the next Great Performance. Like some of the recent honorees, he is being recognized for something other than his many records and championships.

Larry was as versatile a runner as I have ever run with. I suppose we should categorize him as a middle distance specialist, but he wasn't shabby at the 10K distances we used to run in Cross Country. Like All-American shabby, I think. And he could sprint, too. And not just for the loop bus.

This recognition is for the 400 meters I saw him run in practice (take that AI) in 1979. I saw this from an inside lane, the whole way. (Larry made the stagger up on me early, so I never got close to him.) Coach made us distance guys run an all-out 400 in lanes one day at practice, before our usual gut-wrenching (take that sprinters, jumpers) 800 meter repeats. I ran my PR and tied with John Ziegler with a 54 second lap, (also Bill Rodger's PR). Larry ran a 47 second (48 seconds corrected by Larry)* 400 meters, which would have placed first or second (in the top 5)* in last week's open 400 at the Horace Ashenfelter Indoor Complex. I label someone who can get first or second in a large meet at 400 meters a sprinter, but I'll bet none of the others could run a 29 something 10K. Congrats to Larry on this great performance (and resume enhancer).

Also: Momentum is building for a future Golf extravaganza in the Bahamas. Mike Sands has gotten a superb response to his idea, and the machinery is in motion to make a complete package workable (Mike is a bigwig with BahamasAir). Deforesting paradise may become a PSU Track Alumni reality! Mike has been named Official Blog Travel Attache, (and I suppose BahamasAir is our Official Airline now!)

* corrections noted as per Larry

Monday, January 19, 2009

World Domination and Internet Chatter:

Our first hit from South America came in today. Brazil adds to our now world-wide presence. Only Antarctica stands between us and total continental acceptance of our mission statement (if we had one).

There has been much activity lately via every form of communication. The internet is humming with PSU Track Alumni Golf activity. This pleases me beyond measure. Also the phone lines, Facebook, and even good old-fashioned snail mail are "off-the-hook"(thanks to Coach's refusal to use electronic means). Thank goodness we're not Homeland Security; we would have to raise the alert level to red.

Coach's communication touched even the hardened hearts of sprinters and jumpers. We've heard from The Bahama's Own, Mike Sands as well as Ed Roskiewicz from Princeton and Darryl Jones from Gettysburg. They spin tails of workouts gone by. Even three time Olympian Mike Sands has admitted to "misreading" Coach's scrawled workout sheets. I can see how some would read Coach's scribbles as 6 X hill as opposed to 10 X hill as it was originally written. I also note that "warm up to hill" makes no mention of stashing a car near the hill, so "no harm, no foul". Others have called for Mike to assume organization of next year's event IN THE BAHAMAS. Hmmm, sounds interesting.

Ed has enlightened us with what he considers the "worst" of the sprinters/jumpers workouts. Apparently, the "Super D" put the fear of God into all of them like no other. A 600/500/400/300/200 was interspersed with sit-ups, push-ups etc. Points were awarded for fast times and numbers of exercises completed between them. It does sound sort of difficult. Vomiting was mostly the result, although I don't think points were awarded for it.

I will try to defend the distance guys workouts though. I NEVER ran less than Coach had written on the board at Rec Hall (or Beaver Stadium later). My freshman year, Bruce Baden and John Ziegler made every 15 mile run at least 18 miles. I'm not sure I ever puked, but I never ate 7 Reuben sandwiches either (Ed's favorite dorm meal). My favorite dorm meal was the cheesesteaks with the ladeled cheese, (as I was never able to partake in the Chicken Cosmo my sister later bragged about). I do remember eating 12 or 13 bowls of the strawberry/bananas, my favorite dessert. Only Gary could eat more.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Prize Package Nearly Complete!

The Complementary Prize Pack for those golfing with us is nearly complete. Items include a T-Shirt with our ingongruous logo with stylized likenesses of PSU Track Alumni golfers Ryan Olkowski and Paul Mundy. Various decals, and magnets of several sizes with the same images mean you'll always be reminded of our web address.

The silicone bracelet will identify you as a member of an exclusive club (secret motto on the back side!). Wear the bracelet when you return in 2010 to be eligible for a super-duper prize (to be determined).

The etched balls (Penn State Track Alumni Golf 2009) are so cool looking ( its a pun people, see earlier posts!), you'll need to buy a stand to display them. Those lucky first sixteen signees will receive a sleeve of three. There are still individual balls left for the next several golfers to sign up.

The final item is a big surprise, but will be a memento you'll cherish forever. I have decided to offer it only to those of you who donate to the Coach Groves Endowment Fund while at the reunion. And Coach will be keeping an eye on you, I'm sure. Any amount, however large or small will be sufficient to procure this great item. It's the thought that counts. No, I'm serious. Any amount. Checks, cash and even IOU's will be accepted. Coach has hired several hammer throwers to ensure compliance with all obligations.

I have assembled this package as a thank-you for all your friendship and to enhance the reunion weekend. It is my hope that the good will generated will ensure that the event will continue to grow and grow. Remember, we should have the largest and most active track alumni group in the entire world. Let's make it happen.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Great Performances #5, #6 and #7

Yeah, that's right, three at once!

First up, its James Carney. Despite only one year of eligibility at Penn State following his Division II exploits at Millersville University, James endeared himself to Coach Groves as if he had the seven years of eligibility of Gary Black.

James has since gone on to astounding heights (or is it speeds?), garnering 6th in the 10,000 meter Olympic Trials and 14th at the Olympic Trials Marathon this past year. His personal best of 27:43 is high on the list of all-time performances nationally. I have a profound respect for anyone able to improve their running after college, and James hasn't peaked yet.

But his great performance recognition isn't for any of these races, its for one he ran while at PSU. James relates that he credits the increase in mileage that came with his intro to Coach Groves as one of the important turning points in his career. When I asked James about a story concerning Coach, he told the same story coach told me about James. At the indoor IC4A Championships, James was dueling with a "stud" from Georgetown, who fully expected the title. When James nipped him at the finish after a prolonged duel, the Georgetown runner was seen lying on the track beating it with his fists! Coach came over to James with a smile and said "I love you, James." And I agree, any time a Georgetown runner is seen beating the track in frustration, I love it too.

Next up is Velveteen Playboy Paul Souza. His great performance is for getting second place in a indoor meet high jump despite not jumping again after landing outside of the pit. It hasn't hurt his voice however. I hope to include video of lead singer Paul in action soon. Really quite impressive. I'm wondering if we'll have to pay him to golf with us in May.

And last, but not least is Mark Heckel. The only person other than Mike Reid to be a track alum AND a music major is Mark. He also was in the Blue Band all four years while at Penn State, and was a group captain in the band for three years, something of a record. His great performance is not for anything related to track and music, however. Despite his indoor weight throw and hammer exploits, its another thing that endears me to Mark. It's for NOT abusing me as a 110 lb. freshman living on the same dorm floor as me freshman, sophomore and junior years. (Irv Pankey would always bring his girlfriends around to "come see this skinny guy". He would then demonstrate how his thigh was bigger than my chest, and everyone would have a big laugh.) Mark was known as "Beef" on our floor and so I never tangled with him. He might not have noticed if I did!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where Haven't I Run

By the results of the poll, 4 of you care where I haven't run and I might have thrown a vote in there too. I can't remember. So to end the suspense, here goes.

1. Everyone knows I ran at Rec Hall, I've mentioned it numerous times. The worst (and the best) place I ever ran.

2. When adopting my daughter Anne, I ran in Kunming, China. Nestled in the south-western "hills" of China, it is perpetually Spring there. Rarely goes below 40 degrees and above 80 degrees. The altitude there is a healthy 8000 ft. You can definitely notice the difference.

3. The IM Building "track" is actually worse than Rec Hall, so I take back the previous statement. Ran several miles there while in high school during a snow storm. Not pleasant at all.

4. Never got to run in London. Had a trip planned there but there was a death in the family as I was leaving for the airport. (Yes JS, I actually can fly when necessary!)

5. I ran at Graceland in 1985. I actually peed on Elvis's lawn through the fence. Heard a similar story about someone who did that at the White House. Figured the only way to outdo peeing on the president's lawn was to pee on The King's lawn. I'm actually a big Elvis fan, I'm sure he's peed there too.

6. Ran in Zermatt, Switzerland while visiting Gary when he lived in northern Switzerland. Although within feet of the base of the Matterhorn, I never saw it. It was in fog the entire time we were there.

7. The Clinton's ruined three of my vacations in Martha's Vineyard. The security detail would bring 75 White Ford Explorers over on a hijacked ferry every time they decided to go there. They also trapped me at the airport because they were late leaving Washington. My sister had to sit on the runway for hours until they arrived. Met Van Johnson there, who was waiting for someone else stuck on the runway. Ran on the golf course and got a glimpse of Bill teeing off on the second hole. (Probably took one of his mulligans.)

Coach Groves Invites (Nearly) Everyone!

To all Penn State Track and Field Alumni;

The date for this year’s golf get together is May 30. Clark Haley is the organizer.

You’ll have the time of your life getting together with friends and teammates.

Last year I got to pitch and putt and did well until some wise guy substituted a fake ball on me.

Believe me, you don’t have to be a great golfer! Everyone has a great time.

Harry Groves

Head Coach, Men’s Track and Field and Cross Country



Coach Groves

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Trapped Like a Rat

Here I am, stuck in the "happiest" place on Earth. I guess I am uncomfortable being happy. Surrounded by all things Disney gives me the willies. But then again, I don't have to board a bus at 3:00 AM to make it to the start of the marathon. I'll leisurely jog 3 miles or so while Barb slogs away at the 26.2.

Addendum: The winning time was 2:20! My Marathon PR would have placed 10th out of 22,000 runners! The race is filled with multitudes who WANT to run a 6 hour marathon! Goofy is what I call it. (Although The Goofy is what they call those that run the 1/2 marathon and the marathon on back-to-back days.) Barb  finished below her desired time despite wearing an off-loading knee brace on both legs. The compression tights she donned after the event allowed her to walk all day in The Magic Kingdom after the race. Nearly miraculous I may say.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Murder on the Express: EXTRA COVERAGE!

A 20 hour train ride has me here in Orlando to watch Sunday's marathon. I know you were all worried about me, but I am fine. Even the streak continues! We rode The Silver Star, not the Silver Streak. (We took the Silver Meteor back. Meteors are faster than stars, it was only 18 hours this time.)

The train would be excellent except for:
1. Nervous smokers at every stop clamoring for the exit.
2. Elderly men with dementia traveling alone.
3. Elderly women with dementia traveling alone.
4. Snorers.
5. Cadavers with oxygen tanks and wheelchairs.
6. Entire families of 4 generations yabbering loudly in foreign tongues.
7. CELL PHONES (but I know I'm alone in this one).
8. Elderly men with prostate problems.
9. 2-year-olds with clueless parents in their teens who think a future "time-out" is punishment.
10 schizophrenics traveling alone with their meds in the checked baggage. (not kidding)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Coach Groves Going Strong

In a wide-ranging conversation on Sunday, it became obvious to me that Coach Groves is still going strong. In an effort to have Coach invite more attendees to our Golf Outing, I asked him to write a brief note that I can disseminate to all via electronic means. At first, he was on a walk, and he had to call me back later. He is in good form, and is looking forward to our tournament "as long as nothing else better comes up".

Our conversation drifted onto many topics, including bathrooms around the word (ask me about China sometime!), football, other alums, knee problems and hundreds more. He even divulged that he tried to recruit Al Cantello out of Norristown High, in the 1950's, despite his terrible form (and world record!)! Al has been Coach at Navy since time began, so that's saying something. He told me how he got Frank Zarnowski into Track announcing which led to his second career as the world's decathlon expert. (Frank is actually an economy professor at Mount St. Mary's in Maryland.) He also related that Paul Stemmer has been an assistant Coach at South Alabama the past several years.

Coach has his short irons and putter (or he'll use Clark Haley's second set again) ready for the tourney. He also has the updated Queensbury Rules book available for that tricky par 5 hole with the bird house. Bribes and under-the-table payments are being accepted to be included in Coach's foursome this year. I have taken myself out of the running since I shared a cart with him last year. So I might as well make money off it, right?

I'll email a copy of Coach's screed soon, and I'll encourage everyone to spread it around like the viruses we got in college after leaving the window open.

Friday, January 2, 2009

PSU Track Alum Outreach Travels to International Petting Zoo

An impromptu phone call from Rob Whiteside led to a meeting at my home for a little reunion yesterday. He was taken a little aback by my 8 dogs, 4 cats, 20 fish, 3 mice and 2 frogs, but soon warmed up for a walk and reunion dinner. Gary Black is here with two visitors from Austria, adding an international flare to the whole circus. Some of you may know that Rob was the Best Man at my wedding. The runs we took at PSU were always great, discussing all things important and not. Following that I kind of descended into a hole of hermithood (like the guy in Monty Python's Life of Brian.) It was good to rekindle the old dynamic yesterday. We walked along the Rail Trail in York for an hour or more, almost exactly like our three times weekly 10-milers at PSU, except slower. We again talked about all things important and not. The difference was Rob didn't have to "borrow" my soap afterwards for a Rec Hall shower while getting scalded each time someone flushed the toilet. And we didn't have to walk over to the West Halls Dining Room afterward to find out they were out of cheesesteaks and all they had was fried perch, again. We got to go to a Sports Bar downtown for a pub meal and a viewing of the PSU/USC debacle.

Rob is a fan of the blog and has offered substantial advice on different directions it can go. He thinks it can become a bigger vehicle to unite a substantial conglomeration of all PSU Track Alums. His vision isn't far away from Ken Cooper's current activities trying to establish a comprehensive listing/contact info. database. I'll say it again, we should have the largest and most dynamic Track and Field Alumni group in the entire world. The fact that Minnesota has a huge golf outing each year should shame us all. They are Gophers for Pete's sake! I could use help on story ideas, photos, videos from any of you. Comments to blog posts will open up a discussion many of us would find amusing and informative. Finding out about the rich history of PSU Track, meeting greats from the past, and finding out what grads are up to after school could prove interesting to scores. We have CEO's, Wall Street traders, Hedge Fund managers, doctors, lawyers, physicists, (and even important people besides!) in our numbers.

I hope everyone has had a good start to the new year, mine was great spending the day with a former PSU Track Alum.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Velveteen Playboy Challenges The Links

Velveteen Playboy lead singer and vertical motion expert (that's high jumper for us vertically challenged distance guys!) Paul Souza has signed up for his first Harry Groves Golf Tournament. Maybe he will stimulate other lazy, shiftless field events performers to partake in the festivities and help deforest The Elks Club greenery. (Just kidding guys, you can still break me in half I'm sure.)

 I have encountered Mark Heckel (featured in a previous "Where Are They Now" segment). Heather (Carmichael) Richardson checked in from sunny New Zealand. Jake Bartholomy, James Carney, Bob Radzwich, Artie Gilkes and Phillip Passen touched base with me. I'll continue to work on them all. It's for Coach, after all.

*Political opinions or commentary are really quite worthless at this point. And still frowned on by blog hierarchy.
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