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...

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Physics Phrom The Penn Stater

Dudley Do-Right lookalike  Doug Kent sends us this nice nugget honoring a teammate of both of us.

80, 85, 92!!! No one knows more Track alums than BB. 

Our very own Brian Boyer! 

A Little Rain Must Fall Into Everyone's Life. Might As Well Enjoy It

 With Ida bringing 3 to 6 inches of rain to Central PA tomorrow, I had to go to the archive again to point out how 18 inches of rain led to the best week of my life.  Agnes was great to me.

The Best Week of My Life

1972 was a great year. Nixon was at his peak, the Vietnam War was about to be ended and Americans had been on the Moon 5 or 6 times. My sport was basketball, and I needed to get much better at it to compete with the likes of teammate Curt Clawson (who later became the greatest shooter Coach Keady of Purdue ever saw, including Michael Jordan!) I opted for the prestigious Pocono Mountain Basketball Camp run by Coaches Bill Foster and Harry Litwack. I headed off with spirits high and with ridiculous sneakers not really suitable for basketball.

My joy turned to ecstasy when I found out that David Thompson was going to be my Coach for the week. After his sophomore year at NC State, he wasn't yet a household word, but he was certainly one of the premier young players in college ball. His teammates Monty Towe and Phil Spence were with him. Tom Burleson had gone to another camp.

The first day was spent getting to know the camp layout and the set up for the coming week of intense drills, practices and games. Then, the rain began. Hurricane Agnes had hit Florida and meandered up the East Coast, delivering torrential rains which was only was made worse when it stalled over land. Worst hit happened to be where we were in the Poconos. All roads were washed out and we were marooned at our camp. Only the two indoor courts were usable by the hundreds of kids there, many counselors staying elsewhere weren't available, and we were on our own mostly. Lord of the Flies type stuff, may I add?

When the bridge over the little stream leading to the indoor courts washed out when it became a raging river, we improvised by swinging across the stream on a rope hanging from a tree. Those little kids that invariably fell in were retrieved downstream with the help of a dam we fashioned out of canoes left over from the camp's previous life. We never lost a single camper! Each day became worse with the rain and the inability of anyone to reach us from the outside. The menu deteriorated noticeably each day, with meals becoming a mish mash of whatever was available. The nightly movie reel (the World War II flick, Triple Cross) was repeated each night, and all of us learned the entire dialog by the end of the week. We were able to shout the words to the entire movie before the actor would, which somehow never got old. I remember the joy on David Thompson's face with this each night, pure innocent joy. I find it hard to believe that he later ended his basketball career in the throes of substance abuse.

Days were spent watching the college guys play pick-up basketball. Only one court at a time was available, as they tore down rim after rim with spectacular alley-oops and jams (Monty Towe and David Thompson invented the alley-oop!) none of us could believe. Those handy with tools would remake the backboards and rims on the one court as the players switched to the other.

Players were true amateurs in those days, and none of them was receiving any money outright, just room and board (eating the same crap the rest of us were!). We supplemented David by putting quarters on top of the backboards. Any quarter he jumped up and retrieved was his by default. And he pocketed a lot of change that week. I've been challenged on this many times, but I saw him do it hundreds of times. His vertical leap was unbelievable, even with just one step. He had a kid follow him just to hold all of his quarters. And I would have volunteered for the duty if someone else hadn't gotten there first!

It was a simply magical week, and I didn't mind eating Cream of Wheat for three straight meals by the end of the week. When the rain finally stopped and my parents picked me up, I was amazed to see all of Pennsylvania flooded. We didn't have a TV and no one bothered listening to the radio, we were there to watch basketball and there was none better than what was on the court live.


  1. You can know a guy 30 years and still learn something new about him. This was a nice story. RW

  2. I also saw Wilfred Hetzel two years in a row at camp. The first year he was unbelievable, the second he was pitiful. He died right after that. I saw one of his last performances.

  3. When I was in the 8th grade, I was the highest scorer on our team except for the 7th grader Curt Clawson. I scored 4 pts. a game and Curt scored 18! He was truly a great player. He moved to Utah in the 8th grade as he was a Mormon and always wanted to play for BYU. But they didn't recruit him so he went to Utah instead. When they didn't play him much (he didn't like defense!) he transferred to Purdue. He was the best outside shooter Keady ever saw. It was a shame this was before the 3-pt. shot. He was always a sixth man.

    At a reunion of players at his retirement he was asked who was the best shooter he ever saw. He said Curt and Michael Jordan (who was there as a friend of Keady) said "Who?" They then had a three point shooting contest which Curt won handily, many years after his playing days. (True story, I swear.) Curt also had a trampoline in his garage, which was a converted barn. Always a cool place to hang out.

  4. That's a great story!! LTM

  5. lots of great memories from Coach Litwack's camp. we were in awe of the college players and when i look back and think about how "normal" and humble they were I wonder where those times have gone.

  6. Compare David Thompson to Latrell Sprewell or Allen Iverson! And that's spotting David a drug-abuse problem even.

    I remember Litwack chewing on a cigar all the time even when it wasn't lit. That picture is burned into my memory.


Monday, August 30, 2021

"Mikey" Shuey Is Interviewed By Hometown Youtubers

Michael Shuey begins his post-Olympic time in Johnsonburg, PA with an interview by people better at it than I!


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Four Champions And A Boot


The turnout at this month's Penn State Track and Field Alumni (Golf) Reunion was very good.  It included 1980 Olympian Greg Fredericks, PSU High Jump Record Holder Paul Souza and 1976 Olympic 400M Hurdle Silver Medalist Mike Shine.  The Rusty Boot came back from its long hiatus in Coach Groves' possession.  And, oh yeah, Mike's rad Harley-Davidson photobombed the whole set-up!

Monday, August 16, 2021

Founder And Keeper Of The Beer's Weekend Highlights

 Just to add to Dave's comments, we shared a few laughs Friday night at the welcome reception. Highlight of the evening was Sheri McCahill winning the Toyota - wait toy yoda! Prepped it early in the night indicating we had an anonymous donor of a ToyYoda (pronounced toyota in southern Ohio!) who donated this to Coach Gondak but Coach was unable to accept because of compliance issues so he asked that it be raffled off. The letter from the anonymous donor indicated that it was used, but just cleaned, and was sitting out in front of the hotel earlier in the day if anyone noticed it. Donor also agreed to pay for trailoring and shipping if the winner wasn't local! It was pretty hard to hold back the laugh when the number was chosen during the raffle and the picture of the donation was exposed - below (bad joke, but it was a good laugh)!


 Saturday's Events, again just to piggyback what Dave had mentioned earlier, started off at the track with the new "numbnutz triathlon" (replacing the heart attack run - for legal reasons!). Greg Fredricks won the hula hoop roll (Mark Fuller DQ'd on a technicality but worthy of an honorable mention!), Kevin Fuller won the staggered triple bean bag toss and I think Ryan Foster won the Joe Kovacs miniature marshmallow shot put spin spit with Steve Balkey taking the overall title in a spit off. Charlie Hull gets an honorable mention for a spectacular third spit, regurgitating the marshmallow on the spin and letting it fly - pretty gross but man was it funny to see (especially after we didn't have to perform the Heimlich maneuver). Needless to say, that event will probably join the heart attack run as a shelved event going forward... There were a number of folks that hiked mount nittany (basically for Hanna's (Humphrey) sake to see if she could rekindle some long lost infatuation with some Grizzly Adams dude (which rumor has it, they actually found his place of residence). Trip to the sports museum was in the mix somewhere with that group and some awesome pictures of the group are to follow (help me out here Greg or Hanna!). The Golf outing was a rough go for some of us after a STRONG Friday night of crawling (whew, and every year I claim I'm not doing it again next year...). Steve Brown and his two son's with John Flayherty took the title with (-5). Seems we're getting better as a whole as my team was the only one over par (+1) - that, or as Harry Groves would say " there are alot of cheaters on the course!" Saturday night's dinner was started with Vivian's (Riddick) presentation honoring Coach Schwartz and it was very well put together and the highlight of the night. Viv attempted to big screen the zoom call (as she linked in a number of folks) but the AV techs weren't able to help us so those attendees were on the laptop screen and unable to see the clowns in the audience unfortunately (great job Viv!). There were a number awards given from the day's events and we totally messed up the numbnut award by giving it to Che Arosemena (who threw one of the bean bags from the trip toss event into a puddle of water behind the target) when it truly should have been given to Dave Baskwill for forgetting the coffee and donuts Saturday morning at the track! Speaking of Baskwill, he nominated Ken Brinker for the illustrious "Rusty Boot" award in recognition of his continued philanthropy to the program - Kudos to Ken!


More Photos Of The 2021 Golf Tourney With Better Quality From Kay Warfel


That last one is just my dog Odie, checking to see if you are paying attention or not.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Random Thoughts And Results Of The 19th Annual Reunion And Golf Tourney

  1.  We had a very good turn-out considering the world we currently find ourselves in. There were 40 or so attendees for both the Reception and Dinner.  There were 6 foursomes on the golf course.  And there were many attendees for Vivian Riddick's Zoom Presentation and the Coach Schwartz Celebration for the Women's Team.  Coach Groves finally got his 2009 wish of more women attendees for our celebration of Penn State T&F/XC.
  2. The Mountain View Country Club hosted the tourney and were excellent in their support of our efforts.
  3. I sorta/kinda won for the 3rd time in a row.  Because Steve Brown's sons golfed with him, we had a team of "ringers" without a hacker like me.  According to the rules set up by Clark Haley decades ago, this team is forbidden.  All teams must be rigidly, strictly chosen randomly on Friday night, except when sufficiently bribing of the Officers of the Group has been undertaken!  The Browns managed 5-under par, with my foursome scaring them with a 4-under par back 9 after an even front nine.  (Please realize I am being mostly funny with this, but I won't know for sure until I see the engraving on The Cup next year.)  I hit few shots with my wonky wrist, but I suppose 4 of my shots actually counted.  For all you non-golfers out there, you would do much better than this without ever having golfed before.  Come golf with us next year.  It was a pleasure golfing with Harry Smith, his son Ian Smith and Coach John Gondak this year.  
  4. There was a paucity of potential in the running for the "numb-nuts" award, with the absence of Kevin Kelly O'Brien.  Just joking Kelly, you were missed.
  5. The Triathlon at the track, which has replaced the Alumni Run, was won by Steve Balkey, with individual events won by one of the Fullers (I never know which one; it's definitely a problem of mine!) and Greg Fredericks, Master of the Hula Hoop.
  6. Speaking of the Fullers...  They all golfed together this year.  It was honestly only by chance, I swear to God.  Bob Gabel became an honorary Fuller to fill up their foursome.
  7. Paul Mundy won the Longest Drive contest, which he does nearly every year Beth Shisler does not golf .
  8. The dinner menu was excellent (flank steak, grilled chicken with Parmesan sauce, and a chocolate cake that brought a smile to Paul Mundy).  The selection of four different flavors of chicken wings on Friday night was also quite splendid.  Free draft beer and a full cash bar got the crowd in just the right spirits to meet new friends and regale old friends with white lies about the days of yore.
  9. There are stories of great times had by many (after my bed-time) at The Phyrst on Friday night and Pickles on Saturday night.  I managed to host Rock and Roll Legend Paul Souza to nearly 11:00PM on both nights before tag-teaming and handing off to Night-Life loving Clark Haley.  I think we have a convert to our efforts in Paul, with maybe even a Rock and Roll Reception in our future!
  10. Ken Brinker became only the third recipient of The Rusty Boot, the highest honor that can be bestowed on any PSU Track Alum.
  11. Two hardy members of the group drove their Harleys fairly long distances to join us.  Both Mike Shine and Paul Mundy looking good BTW!
  12. Coach Gondak won the closest to the pin contest on a hole which is normally his nemesis at his home course. A six-foot putt led to one of our birdies to close in on the Leading Brown group.
  13. Kay Warfel made multiple homemade gifts for raffle and Coach Gondak supplied numerous items to add to the mix from the team's supplies.
  14. A tour of the new locker room was given by Ryan Foster.  It's good to have him back.
  15. The Ghost Award went to Paul Souza who finally joined us and says he will be back every year from now on.  Speaking of future years, we have decided to alternate between May and August in the future, just to see if we can entice a few more reluctant attendees.  More on that to come. 
  16. Quite a few attendees climbed Mt. Nittany again this year, in addition to touring the Sports Museum and Berkey Creamery.  Remember, the golf is optional but highly recommended!
  17. State College has taken Covid hard by what I have seen.  The entire block containing The Saloon, Hi-Way Pizza, The Deli and the Lions Den has been closed and empty.  Baby's is closed and for sale.  I would love to have enough mullah to buy it and bring back Pedro's! Anyone wishing to join me in investing in this opportunity, let me know.
  18. My Nittany Lion Hawaiian Shirt was a big hit.  The Lion's Pride came through for me again this year.  Several others went on Saturday to find the stock already depleted.  Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man happy, healthy and Hawaiian Shirted.
  19. The Longest Putt on Hole 18 went to Ian Smith of my foursome with a 9' 1" effort.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Big Turn Out

The Reunion got off to a great start with 4 dozen attendees including All-Americans and Olympians among schmucks like me. Golf should prove interesting tomorrow. 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Another Alum Joins The Sub-4 Club

 We all knew he was capable of doing it, but the chances were few and the time never just right.  Until now.


The Sir Walter Miler was held yesterday in Raleigh, NC.  And stepping up in distance was our very own 800U Champion, Isaiah Harris.  He didn't disappoint.  Congrats on joining the growing list of PSU Track Alumni (Golfers) under Bannister's mark!  3:58.30

Someone out their has a compiled list of all of them, right?  The Interns are gutless and talentless.



Friday, August 6, 2021

Some Thoughts On The Olympic Performance of Joe Kovacs From a 12 Foot Shot Putter.


Physics rules everything. But there are ways of using it to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  Joe Kovacs understands and uses this to his advantage better than anyone on the Athletics World stage.


Joe was given great genetic attributes at birth, but among elite shot-putters, he is on the short side.  This immediately puts him at a disadvantage to taller and longer-armed competitors.  Of course, being tall with long arms doesn't guarantee you anything, but with other things being equal, it gives a distinct advantage.

In order to use that advantage, tall competitors need to perfect their technique and attain the best strength to handle the lever-arm bonus.  Ryan Crouser has done this.  His technique has become better and better and he is stronger than he has ever been.  Game over, World Record!

But Joe is remarkable for being consistently right there each and every time he competes in the big meets.  He is the beast, and his technique is practically perfection.  We have also seen that he is the strongest among these beasts.  Up and coming shot putters need to study Joe's regimen to become the best they can be.

Congrats, Joe.  That was marvelous to watch.


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

RIP Curt Stone, The Father of PSU Distance Running

 Curt Stone passed away several days ago at the age of 98.  When I interviewed Horace Ashenfelter III several years ago, he expressed how Curt was the recruiter and true coach of the late 1940s and early 1950s Penn State team.

Here's a reprisal of a previous post:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Father Of Penn State Distance Running

Curt Stone practically assembled the early Penn State teams that won championships and paved the way for the rest of us all by himself.  He personally recruited Horace Ashenfelter and his brothers. Gary Cohen interviewed the reclusive Olympian a few years ago and posted it on his great web site, garycohenrunning.com

Curt Stone — September, 2015
Curt Stone was a member of the 1948, 1952 and 1956 United States Olympic teams and the first U.S. distance runner to compete in three Olympic Games. His Olympic racing included 5,000 meters in London, England (1948), 5,000 and 10,000 meters in Helsinki, Finland (1952) and 5,000 meters in Melbourne, Australia (1956). At the inaugural Pan American Games in 1951, Curt won gold medals in the 10,000 meters and the 3,000 meter steeplechase. He won the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Trials 5,000 meters, while finishing second in 1956. Stone also won the 1952 Olympic Trials 10,000 meters. Curt won a total of 14 Olympic Trials and AAU Championships at 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. He is a 1948 graduate of Penn State University where he was runner-up at the 1946 NCAA Cross-Country championships and a member of the 1942 and 1947 championship teams. Curt was 1947 Penn Relays two-mile champion and a member of the winning four-mile relay team that same year. During World War II Stone served in the 8th Army Air Force with the 95th Bombardment Group out of Horham, England. His personal best times include: 5,000 meters – 14:39.4 and 10,000 meters – 30:33.4. Curt was inducted into the RRCA Hall of Fame in 1976. He earned a Doctoral degree and retired after 22 years as a professor at Kent State. He lives in Brooklyn, PA, has been married for 63 years to his wife, Margaret, and they a daughter, Sarah. The 92 year old is hard of hearing which prevented a telephone interview, but he was kind enough to type and e-mail his recollections in September and October, 2015.
GCR:You represented the United States at the 1948 Olympics in London in the 5,000 meters. Since it was the first Olympics in 12 years due to World War II, what was the feeling for you and others to run for our country in the land of one of our staunchest allies and where you had served during World War II?
CSThree years had passed since wartime service in Britain, so it was gratifying to find progress being made within the city of London. It seemed quite fitting that they were hosting the games, that there was an Olympic Village using a famous military camp, and that the people were optimistic and welcoming.
GCR:You placed third in your Olympic qualifying heat in 14:58.6 less than a second behind Evert Nyberg of Sweden and Vaino Koskela of Finland. After this effort how did you feel about your chances to compete with the best in the world for medals in the final?
CSI had been on a European track and field tour in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Scotland in 1947, and I was aware that Europeans were good competitors, especially in distance running. The qualifying rounds were rather slow times and easy running, so I was optimistic for the final.
GCR:In the final you raced to a sixth place finish. What are some of your memories as to how the race developed, your tactics and whether the bad rainstorm before the race and muddy track kept you from possibly finishing closer to or in the medals?
CSI have a picture of the start of the race and it was a dark day, the cloud burst came after the race began and I was running blind because my glasses were coated with the sticky clay. Then I was greatly embarrassed when a sheet of water cleared my glasses and I could see four or five runners had broken away. I elbowed out of the 2nd group and led the chase. The times were slow because of the rain, but still a new Olympic Record for 1st. Sixth place does merit a large diploma, so some compensation.
GCR:What else of the Olympic experience stands out including the Opening Ceremonies, other track and field competition or other events you may have attended?
CSI could usually avoid standing for the hours during the Opening Ceremonies. I finally went to the 1956 Ceremonies. To me, the competitions are the attractions. For 1948, the opportunity to watch swimming and diving was unusual as the venue was near and the athletes were allowed to enter with their identity cards. I recall going to both basketball games and boxing matches in 1956 by walking in with the U.S. Team, which I believe is no longer possible.
GCR:At the 1948 Olympic Trials you set a meet record in the 5,000 meter final in beating Jerry Thompson by half a second to make the U.S. Olympic team. How did you feel your chances were before the race and was it more exciting to make the team or to win the race?
CSThe extremely hot temperatures were a problem in 1948. I dropped out of the 10K because of the heat. I decided it was not worth it and I was O.K. for the 5K. I don’t recall being especially elated to win the race; I was more likely to be saddened by friends who didn’t make the team. I think that excessive rejoicing is rather disrespectable for the other competitors.
GCR:The Olympics were the solitary international competition until in 1951 when the inaugural Pan American Games were held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. How exciting was it to have another big meet where you could represent your country and also to win gold medals in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and the 10,000 meter run?
CSBy 1951 I had already been on several European tours and three to Brazil. The Pan Am Games were in early months as I recall, during winter times, so I was impressed to find a number of good athletes such as Whitfield, Fuchs, etc. on the team. Also there were only four or five distance runners on the team. As it turns out, the Pan Am medals and ‘diplomas’ have a special significance now. The diplomas were signed by Eva Peron among others.
GCR:At the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1952 at the Los Angeles Coliseum you finished first in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters. Was it exciting to again make the team or were you more focused on earning an Olympic medal?
CSI really enjoyed the 1952 Trials as I had been having bouts of Exercised Induced Asthma. No doctor seemed to know any cure, and I was completely immune in California in both San Francisco and L.A.
GCR:In the 5,000 meters Wes Santee kicked with a little over half a lap to go, but then you regained the lead and hammered out a decisive win by five seconds. How important was it to kick strong and to win the race?
CSWhen I saw Wes Santee at the 50 year reunion in 2002, he remarked, ‘Oh, you are the guy who beat me in the 5,000.’ The coaches had an opinion poll before the race, and my coach, Chick Werner, told me he was about the only one voting for me to win. Wes Santee was really a miler and almost became the first to turn the trick of the four minute mile. That was a good season in 1952, as I had two American Records in both the 10K and 5K.
GCR:Winning both the 5k and 10k is a feat that was unmatched from when you did it until Galen Rupp of Oregon duplicated it in 2012. In retrospect, how does your effort and achievement stand the test of time?
CSI was surprised to find in 2012 that the double had been that difficult. The problem has been that amateur athletes just don’t have the time to train. Horace Ashenfelter remarked to me recently that he still wonders how he found about an hour and a half a day to train during those years, and he wonders now how his wife put up with that much. Also we were not conditioned to run more than one or two races in a week’s time.
GCR:Medical issues kept you from running your best at both the 1952 and 1956 Olympics with asthma bothering you in Helsinki and appendicitis disrupting you in Melbourne. How disappointing was it to not be able to race to your potential in those final two Olympics?
CSThe medical issues in 1952 and 1956 caused great disappointment but I managed to put that aside. I recall in the 5k trials in 1952 that five runners managed to break from the group and Zatopek looked back and waved five fingers at me to indicate that I should stay with them, but I was only able to use about 75-80% of my energies because of the breathing difficulties. Bob Richards used to write a column and he mentioned this event one time, but I had never advised him of my difficulties.
GCR:These days the top runners are professional athletes and running is their career. How was it for you balancing your jobs with the training it took to be a world class distance runner?
CSDuring my senior year I decided to keep 11:00 a.m. and lunch time free, and I started taking an easy 3 mile run each day. I found that helpful, so in my first job after graduation in 1947, I managed to continue the practice. I continued with a workout that lasted from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. or so. One of my friends from Penn State retired there and helped coach, and he told me that athletes now worked out more in a week than we used to do in 3-4 weeks. As I recall in our day an athlete had to name his work place in order to remain an eligible amateur. After I started teaching I would get up about 6:00 a.m., take a short work out and also workout with students in the p.m.
GCR:You won over ten national titles from three miles to 10,000 meters and in the steeplechase. Runners’ careers are noted for Olympic performances, fast times and championships. What does it say that you were able to win so many U.S. titles and for such a lengthy period of time over a decade?
CSMy record on a Penn State information sheet says I have 14 AAU Championships, four IC4A, six 2nd places at AAU, etc. I think one of the AAU Championships is a Canadian championship. I think the reason I lasted so long is that most of my workouts were fairly easy, and I only ran to win by a couple yards. I liked the Swedish fartlek style and trained most often on a golf course. I very rarely took off any vacation from workouts. After 1952 I added weight lifting in the a.m. and began the repetitive 200 or 400 meters.
GCR:In college at Penn State you finished in second place at the NCAA cross country meet and were a member of Penn State’s NCAA Champion team. How much fun was the comraderie of cross country and succeeding with your teammates?
CSActually I believe I had one 1st place team in 1942, a 2nd place team in 1941, and possibly a 3rd place team in 1946. I also have 7 AAU team firsts plus a 2nd place. I will send you my medal records. However, after college and a year or so at Penn State in graduate school, I usually trained alone, but missed the comradeship of team workouts.
GCR:Some of your top teammates on the 1942 NCAA Cross Country Champion team were Norman Gordon who finished fifth, Gerry Karver in ninth and McClain Smith in 13th while you were seventh overall. Have you kept in contact with your teammates over the years?
CSThree of the top five runners rom that team have established Athletic Scholarships at PSU. Horace and his wife put about a million in the new indoor track and Howie Horn and I both have scholarships I would guess of over 100 thousand. I did keep in contact over the years with my Penn State teammates, and three members of our first NCAA championship are still living: Karver, Horn and myself. Four of the top runners were Lieutenants in WWII and I was a lowly corporal.
GCR:Like many others you took a break from collegiate studies and served in World War II. Were you able to stay in good physical condition during those years and did you compete in any inter-service track meets?
CSI tried to stay in shape. After basic training and some other assignments, I ended up on a B17 Bomber Group in England. I wrote my mother for sweat clothes, shoes and a time-watch. I usually trained on paths near the bomb group, and in 1944 won the mile in the 8th ‘A.F. championships at a meet o the 1/3 mile track at Cambridge Univ. I ran in meets whenever I could get free, but some of the other members of the Finance Office were older guys who kind of resented it. I was also the 3rd Air Division 2 mile champion in 1945. The Captain who ran the 8th A.F. meet was a famous Penn State boxer, football, baseball, etc. who boxed Schmeling twice and won once, the name slips by me. After the war ended in May 1945, the services held a lot of meets in London, and I ran in a couple at White City Stadium.
GCR:You returned to the NCAA Cross Country meet in 1946 and finished a close second overall just a second behind Quentin Brelsford of Ohio Wesleyan. What were some of the highlights of that race and what was the deciding factor that led to him nipping you for the win?
CSActually, team camaraderie cost me that NCAA championship in x-country in 1946. Ashenfelter raced ahead through inexperience and missed the first turn, so Karver and I stood for a few seconds calling him back, then I had lost some 50 or so places at least and spent a lot of energy catching the leaders. Just as I caught the leaders I looked at my right and Ashenfelter was there with a glazed look, and I knew the team championship was probably lost. The deciding factor for me as an individual was probably that the last mile included a long stretch on a macadam road and I was not able to run well with my spikes. It was stupid of me that I apparently didn’t go over the course prior to the race as I might have worn flats. So the winner by less than a second as I recall was a half-miler who ironically was a fraternity brother.
GCR:Organized high school track and field was very low-key in Pennsylvania in the late 1930s and early 1940s. What were some of the highlights of your relatively few high school track meets?
CSI ran six races in high school in three years in county and district meets, and then in senior year, the 6th place at State was my 7th race. The longest race in my district was the half mile, and I ran third in my heat, but on time I was given 6th place at the state meet.
GCR:Did you do much training in high school or were you mainly running from your general physical fitness from a variety of sports?
CSIn high school we ran on the paved road beside the school. The Principal gave me a book of training from the great Indiana Coach. I think it had pictures of runners from Indiana. Each day we would run our race as I recall. Most of my training was delivering newspapers, as I would deliver both sides of the street one way and then sprint as much as 440 yards in return. Of course we played a variety of sports.
GCR:What were the main ingredients to your success that were contributed by your high school coach, Charles Berilla, who was also your school’s principal?
CSThe High School Principal instituted a strong sports emphasis when he came in 1933, with baseball in the fall with the schools in the county, and track and field for both girls and boys in the spring. There were really no winter sports other than ice skating, skiing, and sledding. There was no gymnasium for the school which was built in 1923. Somewhere the principal found a training pamphlet from the Indiana Coach which he gave to me.
GCR:What did your college coaches, Chick Werner and Bob Greaves, add to your training program that took you to the next level?
CSPenn State had a good athletic program for all male sports, I was influenced to go to Penn State because of such athletes as Norwood ‘Barney’ Ewell. I don’t think there were scholarships for athletes, except perhaps help in getting a job waiting tables, etc., All the coaches were fairly recently appointed because of the national sports scandal revealed by a study in late 1920’s done by some rich fellow perhaps Carnegie? Werner and Greaves were both college athletes from Illinois and they were starting from scratch with the athletes who tried out for the sports. I think Barney Ewell was sponsored by some wealthy individuals from his home town which is hard to believe now. What is also difficult to believe now is the number of IC4A and NCAA champions produced in those years. Remember that the war started in 1939, and U.S. athletes had little contact with European coaches or athletes. The training was pretty basic. As I recall the typical workout schedule was over distance on Monday, under distance on Tuesday, your chosen distance as a time trial on Wednesday, some quarters (about four) on Thursday, a warm up on Friday, and the track meet on Saturday.
GCR:At the 1947 Penn Relays you won the two-mile and teamed with Bill Shuman, Horace Ashenfelter and Gerry Karver to win the Four by One Mile Relay. Do you have any fond recollections of those races and do you still have your champion’s watches?
CSThe Penn Relays always started the spring season. I had two watches, one still works, but who wants to wind a watch now? I gave one Penn Relay watch to an old fraternity brother actually from Cornell. I have no idea where it is. I still have a couple Hamilton Watches from the Chicago Relays.
GCR:After graduating from Penn State and getting ready for the 1948 Olympics, did you add any new training sessions to your training regimen?
CSI mentioned earlier that I started a ‘two workouts a day’ routine on the psychological theory of more frequent workouts.
GCR:When you were working full-time continuously from the late 1940s through the 1956 Olympics, did you get to train much with your New York Athletic Club teammates or were you primarily a racing team?
CSI spent a year working in New York, mostly as a need to establish residence there, so I trained with the team members in Central Park or in NYU’s outdoor wood track in the winter. I think the NYAC is the oldest sports organization in the world and they have always sponsored a good coaching system.
GCR:What was your typical training mileage after you were out of college and what were some of your key workouts for stamina and speed?
CSBecause I often worked out alone I used the Swedish fartlek system and most often trained on a golf course. I kept a diary and I usually tried to run at least 8-9 miles each day. If I sprinted it was at the up-hill section of the golf course. I gradually added speed work and repetitive quarters or 220 yards. I liked 220 yards and might do 15 or so in a workout on a track mostly because it was on a straightaway.
GCR:There were so many big races you won, from IC4As in college through national championships. What type of tactics did you use most often to help you to race your best?
CSAs I recall I never had a pre-race plan, but would use the sound of the starter’s pistol and the initial reaction of the competition to decide on tactics or strategy. Most often I would try to save as much energy as possible for the first half of a race, and then try to equal or lower the time for the last half. I liked to get the lead a lap or two before the finish, hold off challenges, etc. and start a long sprint of 300-400 yards for the end. In Europe at first I simply tried to keep up with the leaders.
GCR:Your Penn State and NYAC teammate, Horace Ashenfelter, had an amazing performance in winning the 1952 Olympic 3,000 meter steeplechase Gold Medal in a World Record time. How was Horace as a teammate and competitor?
CSI discovered Horace while he was training to try out for the baseball team at Penn State in early 1946. There were three of us working outdoors: a POW who never regained form after being in a camp in Germany, Horace, a pilot who had served pulling targets for fighter pilots to attack, and me a finance clerk on a B17 base in England. I could see Horace’s potential, advised Chick Werner of it, and tried to get him interested in running. So we were friends and competitors from 1946 on. The first objective we had was to get his wife’s interest in the athletes and the sport itself.
GCR:You also had the good fortune to get to know the legendary Czech runner, Emil Zatopek, who won Olympic Gold medals at 5k, 10k and the marathon in 1952 along with other Olympic medals. What are some of your fond memories of Emil Zatopek?
CSEmil and I had lockers together in 1948 in London, and he complained to me in broken English of his blisters. I recently found a picture of Emil and his wife taken in 1952 in Helsinki. I will try to get some copies made on my computer. I did ask him about the Russians once when they first began international competition, and he said they were ‘primitive.’ We met for the last time in Melbourne in 1956. I did not correspond with Emil but kept hearing about him from others like Fred Wilt who did exchange letters. As I recall his repetitive running of 400 meters came originally from the training done by Emil Von Elling of NYU, which was passed on and increased by German runners. It was ultimately adopted by Emil. I would hear over the years that Emil was in Cuba, N. Vietnam, etc. After the Czech revolt in 1968 I would hear he was sweeping the streets and the worst was working in Uranium mines and being kept there for weeks at a time. I suppose the mine work was the basic cause of his early death.
GCR:You have been named to several Halls of Fame. How special is this recognition for your athletic exploits?
CSI never made the ultimate Halls of Fame, perhaps because they started long after my competitive days. I do note that it can be an expensive honor because you need to bring your family and friends. But of course it can be a nice honor. Actually I now have the problem of getting medals and trophies with some organizations that can give them a proper display.
GCR:Away from the track, you received Master’s and Doctoral degrees from Penn State and became a professor of education for 22 years at Kent State University in Ohio. How did the discipline of training and racing help you in the rigors of your studies and then helping to mold your students?
CSAs I understand it, the ability to study and train for long hours is in itself a psychological reward. There is some self-satisfaction and gratification in having both mental and physical stamina. I don’t recall trying to instill this trait in others, but instead I would regard the trait as a reward in itself.
GCR:What is your current fitness regimen and what do you do to stay as healthy as possible as you have passed the ninety year mark?
CSActually, I jogged and bicycled as long as I could and hated to give it up. I believe that having good mental health is at least equal to physical health in importance.
GCR:Is there any advice you would give to children and adults who wish to succeed in running or other sports?
CSI think both children and adults should recognize that it is important to be able to enjoy pastimes, games, and sports as participants and spectators because this give us means to control time and space. Time and space are the two concepts which make us humans, and are also the two most important concepts in our brains.
GCR:How did growing up in Pennsylvania during the Depression and World War II, the discipline of running and adversity you have faced shape your life?
CSI have been giving my daughter some of my recollections, and it is interesting to recall now some major incidents concerning the past almost 93 years of my life. A short summary of my life, the adversities, the triumphs, and the insights that I might pass on to others would be quite a long task. It appears that the major episodes in my life were usually separate from my experiences in sports, but probably I took some problems more philosophically because I had learned to accept failures in running.
GCR:Track and Field changed so much with professionalism and the tremendous influx of money into sport. With the perspective of many decades as a competitor and fan, what comments can you make about the changes?
CSThe major change in athletic competition came shortly after I retired about 1960. This was when the sport added professional characteristics. During the amateur stage which began with the IC4A (Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America) about 1871, there were numerous track and field meets throughout the country, especially with indoor meets. There are now few indoor meets during the winter months, and this means that the average competitor no longer has the opportunity to compete. Athletics is a sport that thrives on a new group of athletes coming to age every year. The media has also lost interest in athletes. Athletes are those who ‘run, jump and throw,’ so that other sports also fail to get a new influx of sportsmen from them. Now only schools and colleges continue to encourage the amateur spirit. I met an older sports promoter a few years ago who told me the main difference now is that ‘you old guys had fun.’
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