Monday, August 15, 2005

Speed and then some

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWatched the World Outdoor Track championships from Helsinki, Finland over the past week. Some amazing up and coming talent for the US team, especially in the sprint events. I've always liked track (ran it in H.S - the 440 and Mile Relay).

I think one of the great moments in H.S. track and field comes sitting in the stands of a Gary, Indiana Regional totally surrounded by black folks, who love their track and field, especially the sprints. Man, that place used to rock and roll when it came time for the 100 . You could hear a pin drop waiting for that starter and when some of these young dudes came blasting out of the blocks, the place would go up for grabs with lots of oohing and awing. Some of the nation's top sprinters came out of Gary - I can't recall his name, but I do remember a young freshman phenom who had come close to tieing the National H.S. record in the 100 - he was amazing. (Unfortunately, went to the State meet - tripped over his sweats getting out of them, pulled a hamstring and that was the end of that - by the next year, he was high on drugs and long gone from the track scene - a true waste of a great talent). I also remember going to the old stadium in Indianapolis for the State Meet to see the likes of Bernie Rivers ( 9.6 in the 100 in '62 - from East Chicago Washington), Leroy Spikener from Gary Froebel (1:54 in the 800 in '66-67 and 1:52.7 the next year ( he used to toss his hat aside which was a signal to the crowd that he was going to take charge of the race - I still remember the state meet where that almost backfired - he tossed it early - in the first turn and damn near got beat at the end) , Clyde Peach of Indianapolis Brebauf - 9.5 in the 100 in '65-'66 (how'd a white kid ever learn to run that fast ?), Larry Highbaugh 20.5 in the 200 in '66-67 when it was still being run on the straightaway (Indianapolis Washington), Don Vandrey 4:10.8 in the mile in '65-66 and 4:10.3 the next year to winn again - Valparaiso H.S.), Rudy Chapa (4:05.8 in the mile in '75-76 - Hammond H.S and 8:58.5 in the two mile a year earlier). and Jerry Saffell of Laporte H.S. in the 120 yd, High Hurdles - 14.4 in '61-'62 and 14.1 '62-63 - ah, brings back great memories. I'm sure if you are from Indiana and were a track fan in the mid 60's these names are all quite familiar.

There's just something about 1 on 1 racing that makes it so damn exciting - whether it is track and field, horse racing, biking, indy or nascar racing, but still track and field ranks #1 in this guy's book.

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