Chapter V Continued

– 1946 –

Forty candidates answered Athletic Director George Durenberger’s call for track talent in late March, 1946. With only one letterman, Wallace Wellenstein, “Big George” set about training for the season.

The competitive season opened on April 30 in a dual meet with St. Olaf. By that time the squad had been trimmed to twenty-three. Most promising among the freshmen were Lawrence “Larry” Schwietz, a former Cretin High School speedster, and Myrle Welsh, a dash man from St. James Academy, Grand Forks. The other members of the squad, mostly without previous experience in track, gradually emerged as the season developed.

In a dual meet with St. Olaf Myrle Welsh distinguished himself with seven points, followed by Larry Schwietz and Fran Miller with five each. High point of the meet was the two-mile run of Victor Tessier who, after having placed fourth in the mile, sprinted the last hundred yards for first place. The team was well balanced and well coached with eight places in thirteen events. Final score: St. John’s 62 ½, St. Olaf 59 ½.

St. John’s hopes for a championship looked promising until the Johnnies met Macalester in their second meet.

In the triangular meet with Macalester and St. Thomas, St. John’s took third place-Macalester first with 78,Yz’points, St. Thomas 37,Yz’, St. John’s 35. Stand-outs for St. John’s were Myrle Welsh, high point man, and Larry Schwietz. The latter ran brilliantly in the tough 440 race, the best race of the meet.

In the MIAC tournament for the championship St. John’s won second place. Point winners were Larry Schwietz, Myrle Welsh and Wallace Wellenstein in the dashes, Victor Tessier in the distance runs, John Abeln and Robert Fitzgerald in the jumps, Dave Rodgers in the hurdles and Fran Miller in the weights.

The finish of the season was very creditable for the Johnnies, even though Macalester’s powerful team overwhelmed all the other MIAC colleges with the following scores: Macalester 86 points, St. John’s 35,Yz’, St. Thomas 32,Yz’,Gustavus 25, St. Olaf 23, Augsburg 23.

Roster: John Abeln, William Cofell, Homer Danduran, Robert Fitzgerald, Donald Hackert, Harris Hanson, James McComes, Vincent Malizewski, Francis Miller. John Moore, Norbert Neussendorfer, Alfred Noterman, Aurel Parenteau, Robert Pieper, Theodore Przybilski, Richard Quinlivan, David Rodgers, (?) Schmitt, Lawrence Schwietz, James Stahler, Victor Tessier, Patrick Thomas, Wallace Wellenstein, Myrle Welsh

– 1947

Donald Norman, a 1942 graduate who was taking courses in education for a teaching career, took over the track team in 1947. Norman had to work under handicaps from the beginning. The year 1947 marked the big exodus from the armed services that was flooding the colleges. Many of the war veteranswere ambitious to take part in athletics without as yet being in shape, either mentally or physically, for the rigors of college training. The coaching problem was increased by the lack of experienced trackmen from the previous year. Wallace Wellen stein had graduated and Myrle Welsh had not returned to school. The coach was left with only four holdovers from 1946: Larry Schwietz, Fran Miller, Harris Hanson and Donald Hackert.

Among the freshmen were a few sterling competitors such as Murnane Maenhout, a shot put stand-out; George Richter, a former St. Cloud Technical High School hurdler; William Coy, a distance runner; and Charles Kranz, a speed merchant in the 100 and 220 dashes. Out of a crowd of sixty candidates Coach Norman selected fifteen.

The regular schedule of dual and triangular meets was successful. In the first dual meet (with Gustavus) St. John’s nosed out the Gusties by a score of 61-55. Men who performed well were Coy in the 880 and the mile, Schwietz and Kranz in the dashes, Schmitz in the high jump and Richter in the hurdles. Murnane Maenhout with a shot throw of 44 feet, six inches gave promise of becoming the top shot putter of the conference.

The triangular meet with Macalester and Mankato was for St. John’s a day of awakening. Macalester, always a powerhouse in the conference, was grinding out another championship, a follow-up of 1946. With a score of 88 points the Macs swamped Mankato with 35 and St. John’s 29.

In the remaining two preliminary meets St. Thomas defeated the Johnnies 85,Yz’-36.St. John’s defeated Hamline 68-54.

The Johnnies were not only out-classed in the MIAC meet and relegated to fifth place, but were severely handicapped by injuries to Norman McDonnell and William Coy. Schwietz and Kranz, mainstays prior to the conference meet, were nosed out of first place by the barest of margins.

Murnane Maenhout was the only first place winner with a throw of 44 feet, 3,Yz’inches. In all, St. John’s placed in only five of the fourteen events of the meet and ended the season with a final MIAC score of 15 points.

Roster: William Coy, Donald Hackert, Harris Hanson, Charles Kranz, Robert Lebens, Austin “Ozzie” Loeffler, Norman McDonnell, Murnane Maenhout, Francis Miller, George Richter, Richard Schmitz, Lawrence Schwietz, John Terhaar, Francis Welters, Alvin Wichterman

Conference standing: Macalester 88, St. Thomas 47 ½, Gustavus 22 ½, Hamline 18, St. John’s 15, Augsburg 6, St. Mary’s 4

– 1948 –

One of the most striking seasons in the history of track at St. John’s was the comeback of Larry Schwietz’s team from a fifth place standing in 1947 to third place in 1948. Prospects had looked promising at the beginning of training. There were such holdovers from 1947 as Coach Schwietz and Charles Kranz, two speedsters in the 100, 220 and 440 dashes, Dick Schmitz in the high jump, John Moore in the pole vault, and sure point-winner Murnane Maenhout in the shot put. Among the freshman newcomers were several war veterans known to be solid competitors. It was hoped that luck would turn up at least two or three more point winners.

The schedule was made up of two dual meets and two triangulars in which to gain experience and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the other MIAC colleges. Reports of these preliminary meets are missing from the Record, however, and hence the information available of activities before the MIAC meet are skimpy and unreliable.

From what can be gathered, the team was made up of twenty-two contestants: five veterans and seventeen newcomers. Among the broad jumpers was William “Bill” Osborne, a champion broad jumper on his high school team at Marshall, Minnesota. He was on the college baseball team and hence did not train for track. Nevertheless, he made one jump of 20 feet, 8 inches to take third place. Unfortunately for the outcome of the MIAC meet, Murnane “Red” Maenhout had an off day and had to take second place in the shot with a throw of 44 feet, 11 31 inches, whereas he had been doing 46 feet, 3 inches prior to the MIAC meet.

Roster: John Coyne, Donald Dahl, Robert Dahms, James Griffin, Charles Kranz, Austin Loeffler, Murnane Maenhout, Richard Miller, John Moore, Werner Oehrlein, William Osborne, Joseph Rinaldi, Francis Savell, Lawrence Schwietz, John Smith, Richard Schmitz, John Spalding, Donald Seifert, Everett Trebtoske, Gerard Ulmschmid, James Zylla, Joseph Zylla

– 1949 –

The 1949 track season started out favorably with a nucleus of seven lettermen from 1948 to support the freshmen on whom Coach Larry Schwietz had to depend. The loss of Murnane Maenhout, Werner Oehrlein and Dick Schmitz left too great a gap to be filled by inexperienced freshmen. In fact, the hard work and enthusiasm of Coach Schwietz and his helpers were insufficient to compete with the powerful middle distance runners of Macalester and St. Thomas.

The superiority of St. Thomas in an undated meet was clearly demonstrated when the Tommies overwhelmed the Johnnies by a score of 78-3/8 points to 11 by St. John’s.

Later, in a triangular meet with St. Olaf and Augsburg, St. John’s nosed out the Oles by a score of 52-2/3 points to 50-1/3. Augsburg, in third place, had a score of 47. Jerry Tooley in his sports column, “The Tooley Angle,” conceded that “Macalester and St. Thomas have the cream of the crop in most events, and that one or the other will take the state meet” (Record, May 12, 1949).

St. John’s emerged from the state meet in fifth place in MIAC standings. No report was made of the points scored by the contestants, but the individual performance of point winners were reported in the Record. Jerry Donlin took third place in the high hurdles; Van Orsow, a crack freshman miler, finished fourth in the mile run; Jack Smith was third in the shot put. Larry Schwietz, who normally was unbeatable in the 440, finished the race in fifth place. The St. John’s relay team also finished in fifth place.

The absence of Captain Chuck Kranz from among the runners was probably due to an injury. It deprived the team of a potential first place in the 100-yard dash.

Roster: Daniel Coborn, Donald Dahl, Robert Dahms, Larry Donlin, Francis Goodrich, Arthur Hessburg, Charles Kranz, Patrick McHale, Charles Miller, Ray Muskat, George Pribyl, Thomas Reichert, John Rubesch, John Simonitsch, Norbert Simons, Lawrence Schwietz (coach), John Smith, John Spalding, Patrick Stafford, Duane Van Orsow, James Zylla

-1950 –

Charles “Chuck” Kranz was appointed track coach for the 1950 season, with John Spalding from Menasha, Wisconsin, as captain. Prospects for a good team looked rosy with nine lettermen holdovers from the preceding year. Among the ten newcomers who survived the initial try-outs were four St. John’s Prep School track champions who had been coached by Fr. Paul Marx, O.S.B. They were Connie Schmid, “Tex” Mulcare, Peter Rother and pole vaulter Francis Kaiser. Also among the freshmen were James Schirber and Donald Rubertus, both outstanding runners with strong backgrounds in track.

Four meets had been scheduled to precede the state tournament on May 20, but all, with the exception of a May 9 meet, had been cancelled because of bad weather. Even on the eve of the May 9 meet with St. Olaf Coach Kranz complained how sorely in need of experience was his team. The Johnnies lost the meet by a score of 44 points to the 77 of St. Olaf, though the team placed four first-place winners: veteran Jack Smith in the shot put, freshman Francis Kaiser in the pole vault, Don Rubertus in the high hurdles and James “Jim” Schirber in the half mile.

The 1950 MIAC meet was a disaster for St. John’s. St. Thomas, which had replaced Macalester as perennial champion and was to remain undefeated for the next four years, won the MIAC title by a record-shattering 9431 points, with ten first places. St. John’s found itself in sixth place with a total of 631 points. Captain John Spalding won fourth place in the 440 dash, Kenneth Wald (now a priest in the diocese of Bismarck) took fifth place in the mile and Jim Schirber third in the half-mile.

Roster: Lawrence Donlin, Francis Kaiser, Charles “Chuck” Miller, Emmett “Tex” Mulcare, Raymond Muskat, George “Judd” Pribyl, Peter Rother, Donald Rubertus, John Rubesch, Connie Schmid, James Schirber, John Simonitsch, Robert Simons, John Smith, John Spalding (captain), Joseph Stenzel, Kenneth Wald, James Zylla

– 1951 –

When John McNally, the erstwhile Johnny Blood of pro-football fame, succeeded Joe Benda as football coach, it was taken for granted that he would coach the 1951 track team. It was not exactly a desirable assignment, for track had declined in popularity over the past three or four years and was badly in need of new motivation and management not because of the student coaches, who were victims of the system, but because the colleges that dominated the sport were headed by regular staff coaches of the athletic departments. Coach McNally had the advantage of having an especially compatible and efficient team captain, John Spalding.

What contributed to the problem of coaching track was the lack of balance in the conference. St. Thomas, with its magnificent new athletic stadium, had engaged in a crash program of climbing to the top position in the conference. Even proud Macalester was eclipsed in the shadow of its close-by rival.

1951 was the second year of the St. Thomas Relays, a meet that attracted the attention of all track colleges in the Midwest: Drake of Iowa, Bradley of Illinois, Eau Claire and LaCrosse of Wisconsin, and all the Minnesota colleges, both public and private. Among those invited to the Relays was St. John’s, one of the fifteen schools that took part in the meet. St. John’s emerged in sixth place, the first indication that the school was making a comeback in track. Don Rubertus took fourth place in the high hurdles, James Haas third in the 100-yard dash, James Schirber fourth in the 880 and freshman Duane Hartung fifth in the two-mile race.

That the good showing in the St. Thomas Relays raised the spirits of the Johnny representatives there could be no doubt. In an opening meet with St. Cloud T.C., St. John’s won by a score of 73-48 through placings in eight events, four of which were in first place-the 440 and 880 dashes, and the mile and two-mile runs.

In a triangular meet with Hamline and Duluth, St. John’s emerged in first place with a score of 67y. points, followed by Hamline with 58 and Duluth 27. First place winners were the Hartung twins, Duane and Darrell, in the two-mile race, Tex Mulcare in the mile and Stanley Turchin in the 440. Other point winners were Reichert, Rubertus and Haas.

In a dual meet with St. Olaf, won by St. John’s 67-55, the Johnnies took nine first places: Jim Haas in the 100and 220, Spalding in the 440, Larry Donlin in the high hurdles and Tom Reichert in the dashes. A quadrangular meet with Carleton, Macalester and Hamline found the Jays in third place behind Carleton (first) and Macalester.

As was expected, the power of St. Thomas was sufficient to run over the rest of the MIAC competitors with a score of 64 ½ points. St. John’s finished in third place with 27 points. Freshman James Haas placed first in the 100-yard dash in :10.2 time-the first St. John’s runner to place in the 100 dash since Chuck Kranz’s 10-secondrace in 1947 Sophomore Rubertus was the third high point man of the meet with a first place in the 120-yard high hurdles (:5.4), three-tenths short of the conference record, and second place in the low hurdles. Other winners in the MIAC meet were the following:

Individual results: Emmett Mulcare, 3rd in mile; James Zylla, 5th in mile; John Spalding, 5th in 440; James Schirber, 2nd in 880; Connie Schmid, 5th in broad jump; St. John’s two mile relay-3rd

Conference standing: St. Thomas 1st, Macalester 2nd, St. John’s 3rd, Hamline 4th, St. Olaf 5th, Duluth 6th, Gustavus 7th, Augsburg 8th

Roster: Roger Braun, Daniel Coborn, Donald Chisholm, Mike Donahue, Robert Evans, Daniel Grandpre, Duane Hartung, Darrell Hartung, James Haas, Larry Hayes, Jerry Hovey, Robert Hintzen, Richard Kelly, Joseph Kieselbach, John Litchy, James Murphy, James Oates, Thomas Reichert, Peter Rother, Donald Rubertus, Connie Schmid, James Schirber, John Spalding, James Thompson, Joel Tierney, Stanley Turchin, Robert Werden, Kenneth Wald, James Zylla, Emmett Mulcare, Robert Simons

– 1952 –

Track has always suffered a low rating in popularity at St. John’s in comparison with the contact sports football and basketball, as Coach John McNally soon learned. The Record sports columnist for 1952, in recognition of the current track problem, observed that track lacked a large turn-out for positions on the squad, whereas other major sports were highly favored: “Athletes turned out by the dozen for other sports, but the track mentor was not as successful; only 18 men greeted ‘the coach’ on the first day” (Record, May 23, 1952). McNally in his low keyed protest remarked: “If I could get everyone I want (to come) out, St. John’s would be represented by a strong team.”

Despite the smallness of the squad, the 1952 tracksters did remarkably well, and if there had been among them the jumpers and weight men McNally wanted, the high ranking teams of the MIAC would have been pressured closely for their top positions. The Jays defeated St. Cloud T.C. in the first meet by a score of 81-44; then Hamline went down 63-58. In a later meet they were tied with Hamline 58-58 with only one relay race remaining. The SJU relay men then out-ran the Hamline runners to win the meet by the score of 63-58.

In May the Jays took second place to St. Olaf in a meet in which St. John’s won six first places to the ales’ four, but lacked the depth in field events to win. In this meet Jim Schirber took first place in the mile and half-mile; Michael Donahue won first place in the high hurdles and second in the low hurdles. Merlin “Boots” Wald was first in the mile run.

The most interesting meet of the year, and the one in which the quality of the SJU runners was most evident, took place at Macalester. In this meet Macalester edged St. John’s for first place by only 4 ½ points (64 ½ -60). St. John’s won first place in all the running events except two, but Macalester had the balance, the power in the field events-exactly the weakness that Coach McNally had observed when the athletes signed up as candidates for the team. Dick Christopherson wrote in his Record column of May 23, 1952:”The material had everything but depth.”

Outstanding trackmen for the year were James Haas, 100 and 200 dashes, Jim Schirber, mile and half-mile, Mike Donahue in the hurdles, Larry Donlin in the hurdles, Clint Wyant in the two-mile and Merlin Wald in the mile.

Unfortunately, no record was kept of the MIAC tournament. All the information available (taken from a 1953 preview) is that Macalester won the meet, and that Larry Donlin won first place in the high hurdles. Jim Schirber won first place in the 880, breaking the old MIAC record of 1:58.1 time. St. John’s finished the season in fourth place.

Roster: Francis Danduran, Michael Donahue, Larry Donlin, Daniel Grandpre, James Haas, John Kaiser, John Litchy, James Oates, Peter Rother, James Schirber, Robert Simons, Merlin Wald, Clint Wyant

– 1953 –

The cramped quarters of the old gymnasium did not permit much indoor preparations for the track season. Hence it was that the 1953 track hopefuls had only a few days of preparation for the March 9 MIAC indoor meet on the University of Minnesota field house floor. In the contest between St. Thomas, Carleton, Macalester and St. John’s, the Jays took fourth place with eleven points.

Coach McNally was satisfied, however, for he had been looking for field men to supplement his fine runners. He needed jumpers, pole vaulters, shot and discus throwers. John Kaiser had been his sole hope in field events the previous year, but now he could see potential in freshmen Bob King in the pole vault and Jerry Howard in the high jump. McNally’s doubts about a successful season were tempered by a ray of hope.

In a quadrangular meet held at Hamline, St. John’s lost to the first place Pipers 57-49. Ironically, St. John’s won five first places to four by Hamline, but, as in 1952, the team lacked the depth to win the deciding points. Point winners were Mike Donahue, first in both the 120 and 220 hurdles; Jim Schirber, first in the half-mile and second in the 440; Merle Wald ran first in the mile and third in the 220 dash; Robert King, second in the 120 low hurdles, second in the pole vault, fourth in the 220-yard hurdles; Clint Wyant and Mike O’Fallon were first and second in the two-mile run. Meet standings were as follows: Hamline, first, with 57 points, St. John’s second with 49, Gustavus third, 24, and Augsburg fourth with 11 points.

In a five-team meet held at St. Thomas inv olving several of the MIAC colleges, St. John’s took second) place with 55 points to the Tommies’ first place with 106 points. Shortly thereafter the Jays engaged the Macs in a dual meet and lost 74-48. Jim Schirber won both the mile and the half-mile races, Mike Donahue the high hurdles, Clint Wyant the two-mile run, Paul Mohrbacher second, and John Fitzgerald third in the two-mile.

Considered objectively, the 1953 team was in some ways an enigma. From the beginning, the squad was too few in numbers to possess the balance between track and field events so needed to pick up the third, fourth, and even fifth place points that often decide championships in track. On the other hand, it had the top middle distance runner in the state in Jim Schirber and a top-flight hurdler in Mike Donahue, as well as Clint Wyant and Merlin Wald in the mile and two-mile. With a little luck, it could have done much better.

The MIAC Meet

St. John’s finished fourth in the MIAC championship meet. Jim Schirber continued his accustomed mastery over the middle distance races with a record-breaking 4 :26 mile, and first place in the 880. Pole vaulter John Kaiser placed second in this event, Bob Hunt took fourth in the 440 and Mike Donahue had the bad luck to trip over a hurdle when about twenty yards from the finish line while leading the pack. Merlin Wald finished the 880 in second place, a half step behind Schirber.

It was in a way sheer coincidence that in 1953 John McNally was the coach and Jim Schirber the pupil. 1953 was the thirtieth anniversary of the year when Coach McNally established himself as the outstanding track star in St. John’s early track history. Jim Schirber was likewise the greatest of his time. The July 24, 1953 issue of the Record commemorates the coincidence under the heading “Schirber and Mc- Nally Reign.” The writer pays generous tribute to the two trackmen: “A familiar sight last spring was Coach John McNally on the edge of the cinder track timing Jim Schirber as the Johnnie star trained for the state meet. Schirber has established himself as the greatest track man in St. John’s history, having broken four all-time St. John’s records and holding the all-time Minnesota Conference marks in the half mile (1:56) and the mile (4:26).

“But it is possible that Coach McNally, as he watched his star pupil perform, recalled the same field of thirty years ago. For in terms of the number of records held simultaneously, the old master John McNally still reigns.

“St. John’s has only captured one state conference track championship in its history (1939) but it has had its individual stars and among them for a long time to come will be John McNally and Jim Schirber.”

Jim Schirber, now a Ph.D. in physics and manager of the Solid State Research Department Laboratories, Albuquerque, N ex Mexico, in a 1977 letter wrote: “I was really more a half-miler and miler than anything else. I ran the two-mile only once. Johnny Blood told me if I could break the school record I wouldn’t have to run it again, so I tried it a couple of times and ran it at St. Cloud Teachers sufficiently fast to get the record-and McNally was good as his word. I never tried it again. . . . I’m embarrassed to remember those times, as high school kids do so much better. . . . I still run four miles a day at a seven minute mile pace or better.” .

Roster: Michael Donahue, John Fitzgerald, Jerald Howard, Robert Hunt, John Kaiser, Robert King, Paul Mohrbacher, Michael O’Fallon, James Schirber, Merlin “Boots” Wald, Clint Wyant

– 1954-

New track coach John Gagliardi had few hopes for a successful track season when he first faced his 1954 hopefuls. There was a double problem to be considered-the loss of Jim Schirber and the minute number of holdovers from 1953-only three. On the other hand, he had as captain and assistant the tried hurdler of the three preceding years, Mike Donahue, one of the finest hurdlers in St. John’s history. Most noticeably lacking was the discus/shot-put section of the squad, a weakness that had been like a perennial disease during the preceding decade and a half. Coach Gagliardi was forced to look among the freshmen for the solutions of his problems-sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

Among the freshmen were track enthusiasts from the high school ranks such as Duane Rubertus, brother of Donald Rubertus of 1951 fame, and Robert Stock, who showed early signs of being a worthy successor of John Kaiser in the pole vault. Especially promising as a point-getter in the broad jump was Donald Catton, now Dr. Catton of Aberdeen, South Dakota. Catton, though not big, hurtled off the jumping block as if thrown from a catapult. Among the shot putters was Tony Deane, a giant from the Bahamas. There were also genial characters like John Schlumpberger and Robert Hunt who acted like catalysts inspiring the squad to hard work and a hopeful outlook.

In competition the 1954 Jays were consistent second placers, with no victories to register in the five dual meets in which they participated. They had one particular discouragement when in a triangular meet with Augsburg and Macalester they outpointed Augsburg 34 ½-16 but were fairly demolished by Macalester with 100 ½ points. After that cataclysmic defeat they realized the job cut out for them in case they wished to make a good showing in the MIAC.

The Jays were able to salvage only two of the five meets prior to the conference meet on the 22nd of May. They defeated St. Cloud T.C. 78-48 and Concordia 77-44, then lost to St. Thomas 88-42 and St. Olaf 79-44. High point men in these meets were Mike Donahue and Duane Rubertus in the hurdles and Donald Catton in the broad jump. The latter took first place in all the meets in which he competed.

In the MIAC St. John’s placed fourth. Catton’s 21’3″ was the only St. John’s first place. Mike Donahue finished third and fourth in the high and low hurdles respectively, Rubertus fourth and second in the same order. Other point getters were Mike O’Fallon in the two-mile, Bob Hunt fourth in the 880, Tony Deane in the shot put, Robert Stock in the pole vault and Charles Rush in the dashes.

Roster: Donald Catton, James Dalglish, Tony Deane, Michael Donahue, John Fitzgerald, Jerald Howard, Vincent Hunt, Donald Mahowald, Mike O’Fallon, Duane Rubertus, Charles Rush, John Schlumpberger, (?) Sheridan, Donald Stepniak, Dennis Studer, Michael Wachtler

Conference standing: St. Thomas 59, Macalester 34%, Gustavus 27 y., St. John’s 24 ½, Hamline 23 ½, Duluth 17 ½.

– 1955 –

A new spirit of hopefulness pervaded the track announcements for the year 1955. Returning from the 1954 team were twelve lettermen who, though they had taken only one first place, were full of enthusiasm and vigor. An added incentive for the trackmen, old and new, was the presence on the squad of the 1954 cross-country champions who would practically guarantee improvement in the long distance events: John Schlumpberger, coach and captain of the cross-country team, Vincent Hunt, Mike O’Fallon, Donald Mahowald and George Geray.

It was not only in tr8ck, however, that this aggressive spirit manifested itself. Dave Durenberger in his May 20, 1955, Record column has described the character of the era as heralding the finest period of St. John’s athletic history: championships in tennis, wrestling, football and baseball-in fact, a domination of wrestling for the years 1952-59. Now the same spirit was beginning to be displayed in track.

In the Carleton Relays-one of the toughest invitational meets- St. John’s scored eleven points for seventh place in a field of fourteen colleges. Freshman James Burke in the hurdles and John Schlumpberger in the two-mile event showed up well. The team distinguished itself in the unusual medley race and the 360-yard shuttle relay race.

St. Thomas hosted a ten-school meet in which St. John’s came out in second place, principally through  first and second places in the low and high hurdles. Schlumpberger took second place in the two-mile, as did Mike O’Fallon and Bob Hunt in the mile and 880 respectively. The triangular meet’ between St. John’s, Macalester and Augsburg was a walk-away for St. John’s by a score of 81 for the Jays, 45 for Macalester and 20 points for Augsburg.

The MIAC meet was full of surprises. Concordia, which had not taken part in the preliminary meets, swept down from the north like true Vikings and dethroned St. Thomas by a close score of 44-5/6 points to 40U by St. Thomas. St. John’s, hungry for recognition as an upcoming team, finished in third place with 37 points.

The main point-getters for the 1955 race were Mike O’Fallon, who won the two-mile event in 10:37.6 time, and the Jays’ crack relay team that walked off in first place in 3:35.5 time. Also, Mike Wachtler finished second in the 220-yard low hurdles, third in the high hurdles and the broad jump. Bob Hunt was third in the 880 but failed to place in his specialty, the 440, in which Keith Hughes was second. Don Catton placed in the broad jump and Donald Westbrock fourth in the high jump. Duane Rubertus and Chuck Thomey finished fifth in the low and high hurdles, while Don Mahowald tied for fourth in the 880.

Roster: James Burke, Donald Catton, James Dalglish, James Donohue, Vincent Eichten, George Geray, Jerald Howard, Keith Hughes, Kevin Hughes, Vincent Hunt, Joseph Lechowicz, Arthur Lowe, Donald Mahowald, Michael O’Fallon, Duane Rubertus, Charles Rush, John Scheuren, John Schlumpberger, Dennis Studer, Charles Thompson, Michael Wachtler, Joseph Weber, Donald Westbrock

Conference standing: Concordia 44-5/6, St. Thomas 40 U, St. John’s 37, Macalester 34-1/6, Augsburg, Gustavus, Duluth, Hamline

– 1956 –

The 1956 track season opened in a spirit of optimism. From the1955 squad eight veterans returned, all of them point winners and ambitious to make a name for themselves in track history. Among them were co-captains John Schlumpberger and Bob Hunt, Don Catton, James Burke, the crack hurdler, the Hughes twins, Kevin and Keith, Don Mahowald and Chuck Thomey. A new addition to the squad was freshman Cyril Paul, a Bahamian, who gave new life and new ambition to an already highly charged group of veterans. Cyril Paul was an extraordinary person, older than his fellows but still able to run-as he said, “not as once I could.” A fellow Bahamian said, “Cyril didn’t run, he flew.”

The new breed of tracksters, for the most part, had high school training in track before coming to St. John’s and so were able to compete in two or more events with equal effectiveness, thus enabling Coach Gagliardi to shift his personnel here and there so as to fill in the weak spots, especially in the field events that had handicapped otherwise good squads. He set his eyes on 1957 as the key date when the Jays would be able to challenge the powers of the MIAC.

The 1956 team was probably as interesting a team to watch as any others in St. John’s track history. Particularly thrilling were the victories of the SJU mile relay team made up of Donald Mahowald, Keith and Kevin Hughes, and Cyril Paul that went through the season without a defeat. The mile relay team against St. Thomas and Concordia broke the track and school records in 3:33.5 time, then two days later in a meet against St. Olaf broke that record in 3 :31.5 time, bettering a two-day-old record by two seconds.

Of the three preliminary meets, the Jays won one and lost two. In the first, a triangular meet with Concordia and St. Thomas, they finished in second place with a score of 57-51. St. Thomas scored 43 points. Two days later they were defeated by St. Olaf 73-49.

The next meet, a single victory against Duluth, was a complete reversal in form. The Jays won eleven first places, led by the double victories of Cyril Paul in the 100 and 220 dashes, and the double victories of Vincent Eichten in the discus and shot put. The team made a sweep of the high hurdles and the broad jump.

The conference meet found the Jays in fourth place behind St. Thomas in third. Ironically, the difference between St. Thomas and St. John’s was only one-fourth of a point-St. Thomas 35, St. John’s 34%. In the conference meet St. John’s took first place in two events: the mile relay (breaking the school record with a time of 3:28), and first place through Max Thompson’s broad jump of 21 feet, 3U inches. Kevin Hughes took second place in the 440 at :51.8, Bill Moldaschel finished in second place in the 880 and second in the broad jump. Mike O’Fallon closed a brilliant career in distance events in 10:18 in the two-mile run.

Vincent Eichten was third in the shot put, Cyril Paul third in the 220. Keith Hughes won fourth place in the 440, Vincent Eichten took fifth in the shot put, John Quesnell fifth in the 880, Daniel Schmitz fifth in the broad jump, and Cyril Paul fifth in the 100-yard dash.

Roster: Ronald Anderson, Rodney Bailey, James Burke, Thomas Christian, Vincent Eichten, Nicholas Ellena, Peter Froehle, Sylvester Fumia, Keith Hughes, Kevin Hughes, Vincent Hunt, Marvin Kollodge, Joseph Lechowicz, Donald MahowaJd, Roger Martin, William Moldaschel, John Muchlinski, John O’Fallon, Michael O’Fallon, Cyril Paul, John Quesnell, John Schlumpberger, Frank Sherman, Charles Thomey, Max Thompson, Mark Twomey, James Veronick, William Winter

Conference standing: Concordia 58, Macalester 45 ¼, St. Thomas 34 ¼, St. John’s 34

1957 –

Coach John Gagliardi in 1957 proved that his powers of divination were genuine when his prediction, made at the end of 1956, turned out to be true-that the following year would be St. John’s year to challenge and overcome the MIAC track powers. He doubtless was aware that a large number of his 1956 stars would be returning, though he could not have known that among the freshmen would be Jerome “Jerry” Schoenecker, a distance runner who would dominate the MIAC distance runners for the next three years, or that there would be a Buford “Buff” Johnson who would break the school record in the high jump.

Returning in 1957 were eleven point winners from 1956: Cyril Paul, the Bahamian phenomenon who was always good for two first places (the 100-yard and 220 dashes), Captain Donald Mahowald in the 440, Bill Moldaschel in the quarter-mile and the broad jump. And then there was also the crack mile relay team, Mahowald, Keith and Kevin Hughes, and Cyril Paul, that had gone undefeated in 1956. There were other individuals, too-Jim Burke in the high and low hurdles, Vincent Eichten in the shot and discus, and Jerry Kollodge in the pole vault.

In pre-MIAC encounters the Johnnies progressed steadily from meet to meet with only one setback, engineered by St. Olaf at Northfield to the tune of 59 ½,-62 ½. Not discouraged in the least after losing to the ales, the Jays returned to St. John’s to cop a triangular meet from the two strongest teams in the conference, Concordia and Macalester. They next were victorious at St. Thomas by defeating Macalester by a score of 76 ;/,-63;/,. In this last meet Cyril Paul won his seventh consecutive first place in the 100-yard dash and tied the conference mark of 9:9 seconds. Schoenecker was regularly taking first place in the mile and the two-mile, and freshman Buff Johnson was breaking the school record in the high jump by leaps of over six feet. Eichten was winning the weight events and Jim Burke was taking first place in the low and high hurdles. Prospects for the championship, the first since 1939-seventeen years before-looked very promising.

For the Johnnies, the fortunes of the 1957 meet differed only slightly from those of the pre-season meets. They won an unprecedented six first places and all but one of the running events, to edge Macalester and Concordia for the title.

Cyril Paul led the dashmen in winning both the 100-yard and the 220-yard dashes. Freshman Jerry Schoenecker added nine points to the St. John’s total by taking first place in the mile and second place in the two-mile. Other firsts were Bill Moldaschel in the quarter-mile,  Captain Mahowald in the 440, and the superb team of Mahowald, Kevin and Keith Hughes, and Cyril Paul in the mile relay.

Crucial points needed in the tightly contested meet were added to by James Burke’s second in the high hurdles and third place in the lows. Keith and Kevin Hughes finished fourth and fifth in the 440, Russ Banner placed third in the quarter-mile, and James Donohue was fifth in the 880. Kevin Hughes also placed fourth in the 220, and freshman Phil Ratte finished fifth in the 100 and 220 dashes, while Buff Johnson tied for second in the high jump. Leo Eisenzimmer, a baseball player who was participating in his first meet, took fifth place in the broad jump. The results of the field events were not recorded.

Despite the chilly, drizzly weather the 1957 conference meet was the most exciting event in a year when St. John’s won conference championships in three sports, baseball, track and wrestling.

Roster: Ronald Anderson, Rodney Bailey, James Burke, Thomas Christian, Vincent Eichten, Nicholas Ellena, Peter Froehle, Sylvester Fumia, Keith Hughes, Kevin Hughes, Vincent Hunt, Marvin Kollodge, Joseph Lechowicz, William Moldaschel, Roger Martin, John Muchlinski, John O’Fallon, Michael O’Fallon, Cyril Paul, John Quesnell, John Schlumpberger, Frank Sherman, Charles Thomey, Max Thompson, Mark Twomey, James Veronick, William Winter

Conference standing: St. John’s 56, Macalester 53 ½; Concordia 50, Hamline 27 ½, St. Thomas 13, Duluth 5 ½, Gustavus 4, Augsburg 0

– 1958 –

When John Gagliardi was assembling his track men at the beginning of the 1958 season, he admittedly had his problems: “If we can work these boys in with their extra-curricular activities, we may do all right. Cyril Paul’s ‘Junkaroos’ (his calypso music shows) are booked solid until December 1, 1982, and we’ll have to get him sometime in between. Schoenecker is a dancing instructor at St. Cloud’s Arthur Murray Studio, and the Hughes twins are on the debate team. Finally, Moldaschel divides his time between track and that of being a science instructor. There are just too many demands on these versatile boys” (Record, March 28, 1958). *Cyril Paul was working his way through college by evening performances of his “Junkaroos,” set to Bahamian calypso music.

The 1958 championship was won the hard way, to be sure. The first meet was the Carleton Relays (a combination of the shuttle relay, the medley relay, and the traditional quarter-mile, half-mile, mile and two-mile relays) in which St. John’s took seventh place with eighteen points.

The next contest was a triangular meeting between St. John’s, Macalester and Concordia in which the Jays came out in second place with a score of 61 points versus winner Macalester’s 73 points. In a third meet St. John’s lost again, this time to powerful St. Olaf by a score of 68-54.

At this point Al Eisele, in his Record sports column “The Meat Grinder,” gave St. John’s only an outside chance of winning the title. “Unless developing stars appear on the horizon,” he wrote, “John Gagliardi’s squad will have to go some before they can seriously consider defending their conference laurels” (Record, May 2, 1958).

But contrary to Eisele’s pessimistic appraisal of the Jays’ chances, the team regained form. By the time the May 16 Record was issued, the Jays had won three meets. In the third of these Cyril Paul had regained his 1957 speed and won the 100-yard dash in 9.9 seconds. Kevin Hughes had broken Larry Schwietz’s 1948 record in :15.8 time by running it in 15.5 seconds. The St. John’s club had reason to be hopeful when it set out for the MIAC meet at Gustavus on May 18. Their hopes were justified. St. John’s won the 1958 championship by a close margin. The MIAC standings and scores in the meet were as follows:

Roster: Russell Banner, Duane Deutz, Patrick Fleming, Peter Froehle, Gedeon Heinrich, Robert Henry, Keith Hughes, Kevin Hughes, Buford Johnson, John Kaiser, Robert Kelly, Jerome Kollodge, Marvin Kollodge, James Kuelbs, Ronald Labat, Thomas Lux, Gilbert Mages, Roger Martin, Bruce Mason, William Moldaschel, Leonard Mrachek, Joseph Nicholson, Raymond Olmscheid, Cyril Paul, John Quesnell, Philip Ratte, Jerome Schoenecker, James Singsank, David Sieben, Myron Wiest, Richard Wiest

Conference standing: St. John’s 53 ½, Macalester 47 ½, Concordia 34½, Hamline 23½, Duluth 15½, Gustavus 15½, St. Thomas 12½, Augsburg 8

– 1959 –

Owing to the omission of dates of meets it is difficult to follow the sequence of happenings in the 1959 track season. It is clear that early in the season St. John’s dropped a meet to Duluth by a score of 68-72, allegedly because Cyril Paul did not run in the early meets. In a dual meet with St. Cloud T.C. the Jays reversed the situation by a decisive win, 73-50, with freshmen Thomas Withrow first in the long jump and Fred Philipson first in the discus and shot put, both giving promise of being the finds of the year. Strong likewise was the mile relay team of Bob Randall, Withrow, Moldaschel and Schoenecker. Schoenecker and Moldaschel were having their best season in the distance and middistance runs, the mile and two-mile and 880 races respectively. Bruce Mason, a sophomore dashman who had never run in a track meet before his freshman year at St. John’s, was outstanding.

In a triangular meet with St. Olaf and Macalester, St. John’s placed second. St. Olaf led with 67 points, St. John’s had 49 and Macalester finished with 35. Bill Moldaschel, the reigning 880 runner of the conference, ran a brilliant race in the time of two minutes and seven hundredths (2:00.7), his top career record for this event.

A May 16 triangular meet at St. John’s with Macalester and Concordia that ended with a victory by St. John’s was one of the most thrilling meets of the year; Schoenecker and Moldaschel took first places in all the events they entered. “A second place behind Concordia in the mile relay gave St. John’s its needed margin of victory in a meet that went down to the final event” (Record, May 22, 1959). St. John’s won the meet by one point: St. John’s 56, Macalester 55, Concordia 40.

The 1959 track season ended in somewhat of an anti-climax. The Jays finished in third place with 347:’points to champion Macalester’s 66. Macalester’s superiority in weight men (discus and shot put) and its distance runners, who took second and third places in the mile and two-mile runs, were too much for the Jays. Jerry Schoenecker was the only St. John’s man to take two first places in the meet: the mile and the two-mile. Cyril Paul, on whom the St. John’s teams for the past three years had placed their hopes for first places in the 100 and 220 dashes and a share in the first place relay race, placed third.

In a tribute to all that St. John’s owed to the most colorful sprinter in its history up to that time, the Record reporter wrote: “Paul, the Trinidad speedster who has thrilled fans with his running over a fouryear period, bowed out with a pair of thirds in the dashes plus a heroic effort as anchor man on the second-place Jay mile relay team” (Record, June 19, 1959).

Roster: Jerry Schoenecker, William Moldaschel, Bruce Mason, Cyril Paul, Thomas Withrow, Gilbert Mages, Robert Pilney, Buford Johnson, Tom Withrow, Bill Moldaschel

Conference standing: Macalester 66, Hamline 38, St. John’s 34 ¼, Duluth 23½, St. Thomas 20½, Concordia 15-9/10, Gustavus 5, Augsburg 4

– 1960 –

The 1960 Jays were eager to regain the championship they had lost to Macalester in 1959. Besides, it was Jerry Schoenecker’s last year and they had to take advantage of the ten, fifteen or twenty points per meet that he had contributed over the last three years. Tom Withrow was with the team also with his ten, twelve or fifteen points in the dashes and the broad jump. Other veterans were Tom Deutz and Buff Johnson in the high jumps, Bruce Mason in the 440 and the mile relay, Gil Mages and Robert Pilney in the pole vault, Dave Sieben in the hurdles and Fred Philipson in the weights. In addition, John Gagliardi had a host of talented freshmen to work into the team. Among them was John Maciejny who threw the javelin 161 feet, two inches on his first-ever try.

The 1960 Jays had their ups and downs early. In an early meet with St. Cloud State the Jays came out the losers 72-49. Then they bounced back to crush Concordia 72-52. Jerry Schoenecker put on a spectacular show, winning the half-mile, the mile and the two-mile for 15 points. Fred Philipson won the discus and the shot, and Tom Withrow the 100 and 220 dashes. First places were also won by Bruce Mason in the 440, Bob Pilney in the pole vault, and Tom Deutz in the high jump. Hopes for the championship in the MIAC skyrocketed.

The somewhat erratic course of the Jays continued, however. In the May 20 issue of the Record a loss to St. Cloud State is reported. Although the Jays captured six first places, they fell victims to the Huskies’ depth. In the final meet of the season preparatory to the MIAC meet, the Jays were nosed out by Macalester. Judging from the reports given above, it is highly probable that the Jays finished in second place.

Jerry Schoenecker

In 1960 Jerry Schoenecker, one of St. John’s running greats, concluded his racing career at St. John’s. In four years of track he was beaten only once as a freshman when he was out-run in the two-mile. After that he won brilliantly in the mile and two-mile, year in and out, meet after meet, running with style and without a loss.

In a recent letter, 1977, he writes that as an adult he has spent fifteen years in the care of emotionally disturbed children and presently is Foster Care Supervisor for Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese

of Baltimore. Jerry runs when the weather is good and reports that he loves the feel of running. “I can break a five minute mile,” he writes. “I enjoy dancing a great deal as a physical expression of grace and control.” (When a student he taught dancing at the Arthur Murray studio in St. Cloud.)

Roster: Ronald Amel, Kenneth Boice, Thomas Deutz, Jerry Donlin, John Dullea, D. Edwards, John Fritz, John Hoffman, James Hrabe, Buford Johnson, David Kotewa, Adrian Ledermann, John Maciejny, Gilbert Mages, Bruce Mason, John Muller, Donald Noltimier, Robert O’Hara, Frederick Philipson, Robert Pilney, Donald Rasure, Charles Reichert, Thomas Rost, Martin Rosenhamer, David Sieben, James Singsank, Jerry Schoenecker, Thomas Withrow, Albert Woodward

– 1961 –

Coach John Gagliardi found himself faced with a rebuilding job when the 1961 track season opened. An assurance of ten to fifteen points per meet was lost with the graduation of Jerry Schoenecker. The loss was compensated for to some extent by the strongest shot discus department that St. John’s ever had. The weight men were actually the major part of John Gagliardi’s offensive line in football: John McDowell, Dave Honer, John Maciejny and Fred Philipson. The weakest spot in the team line-up was the place left vacant by the departure of high jumper Buford Johnson. On the other hand, the return of twelve veterans (not necessarily all point winners) that included speedy freshman Bob Spinner, Coach Gagliardi’s star running back on his football team, was encouraging. With the tried Tom Withrow and hurdler Captain Bruce Mason to give poise to the team he was assured of an interesting season and a close race for the MIAC title.

In the first meet of the season held at Selke Field in St. Cloud, St. John’s won eight first places out of fiftee:q events. Nevertheless, the Jays lost by a score of 65-66 as St. Cloud managed to pick up enough second and third places to win.

The record of the 1961 Jays, so far as meets are concerned, was one dual meet lost, two triangular meets won, one lost, one quadrangular meet won. It was, as John Gagliardi had predicted, an interesting season.

In the MIAC the Jays finished the 1961 season in second place as runner up to Macalester, a team that for sheer quality and depth was overwhelmingly superior to anything else in the conference. The MIAC standings were as follows: Macalester 79 points, St. John’s 36, Gustavus 23, Hamline 22, Duluth 19Yz, Concordia 17, St. Thomas 10Yz, Augsburg 3.

According to the Record statistician, the performance of the point winners was as follows:

“John McDowell and Tom Withrow shared team honors, each collecting nine points. McDowell won the Jays’ lone first place by sailing the discus 142 feet, 10Yz inches. He placed second in the shot put. Withrow scored in four events, finishing second in the broad jump and mile relay, and fourth in the 100 and 200-yard dashes.

“Other scoring was done by Dave Honer and John Maciejny, second and third in the discus throw; Bob Spinner, second in the 100-yard dash; Fred Philipson, fourth in the shot put; Bob O’Hara, fourth in the high hurdles; Bruce Mason, Rich Leister and Chuck Reichert sharing second in the mile relay” (Record, June 23, 1961).

Roster: Rick Ahles, Ronald Amel, Bernard Beckman, Kenneth Boice, James Conn, Roger Deutz, John Dullea, John Fritz, David Honer, James Hopkins, Timothy Keaveny, Benjie Kreweicki, Richard Leister, John Maciejny, Gilbert Mages, Jim Marrin, Bruce Mason (captain), John McDowell, Bob Monroe, Robert O’Hara, Frederick Philipson, Donald Rasure, Charles Reichert, Robert Spinner, Thomas Withrow, Ronald Youso, Theodore Vornbrock

– 1962 –

The 1962 track team was one of the strongest teams in St. John’s history. That the Jays did not win the championship was not to the discredit of the team, for it ran the strong Macalester team a tight race for the title and was leading until the last three events of the MIAC meet that ended in Macalester’s favor, 65-56. The two teams, Macalester and St. John’s, clearly out-classed the other conference contestants, the closest of which was St. Thomas with 2875 points.

In a series of eight meets during the season St. John’s won five. In the first, held at St. Cloud State’s Selke Field, the Jays won eight first places out of a total of fifteen, but lost to St. Cloud 66-65. The Huskies picked up second and third places to compensate for the lack of first place finishes.

In the Carleton Relays, for which the Jays were unprepared, St. John’s took sixth place in a field of thirteen. A triangular meet followed which St. John’s won over St. Thomas and Augsburg by a score of 75 points to 52 by St. Thomas and 23 by Augsburg.

In the meets that remained, the Jays continued to win mainly through the efforts of Tom Withrow, John McDowell and Dave Honer in the weights, Bob Spinner in the 100 and 220 dashes, and Bruce Mason in the high and low hurdles and the 440 dash. The team did particularly well in a quadrangular meet won by St. John’s with 63 points. Mankato had 54 points, Gustavus 26 and Northwestern 7. St. John’s won second place in the MIAC tournament as runner up to Macalester, the MIAC champion. Individual performances by the Jays were as follows:

Individual results: 100 yard dash-Spinner 1st, Withrow 2nd, Fritz 3rd, Welder 5th; discus-McDowell 1st; shot put-McDowell 1st, Honer 2nd, Philipson 5th; high jump-Brown 2nd; mile run-Cruse 2nd; long jump-Withrow 1st; pole vault- Froehle 4th; mile relay-Welder, Fritz, Reichert, Withrow 3rd

Roster: Richard Ahles, Kenneth Boice, William Blake, William Brown, William Cruse, Tom Enestvedt, John Erickson, John Fritz, Richard Froehle, Leonard Gallagher, Matt Hagovsky, James Hunt, David Honer, George Korbel, John McDowell, Robert O’Hara, Charles Reichert, John Richards, William Rooney, David Schaefer, Tom Schwinghammer, Robert Spinner, William Sullivan, Theodore Vornbrock, George Welder, Thomas Withrow

Conference standing: Macalester 67, St. John’s 56, St. Thomas 2875, Concordia 21, Gustavus 17, Duluth 8, Augsburg 475

– 1963 –

Coach John Gagliardi at the opening of the 1963 season predicted an exceptionally fine spring and no team losses: “We will go undefeated this spring,” promised John.”No, sir, we won’t lose any games this spring.” He may not have been completely serious, but his team captain, Chuck Reichert, echoed his coach: “We’ll be good this year,” as he and three teammates left the gym to do some road work. The season did not turn out as well as was expected by coach and captain, mainly because of a plague of injuries that hounded the athletes and kept them from performing up to their potential.

The first meet of the year was a trip to Northfield for the Carleton Relays at which the Jays finished in fourth place. Macalester, then at the peak of its dominance over the MIAC in track, scored 75 points, St. Olaf placed second with 46, Carleton with 40 and third place, St. John’s 3575 and fourth place. St. John’s lost one first place (McDowell in the discus), two second places, two third places, four fourths and one fifth place. It was not an especially good showing, but several men gave promise of figuring largely in the season’s outcome-Rich Froehle in the pole vault, Bob Spinner in the 100 and 220 dash, Chet Blascziek in the hurdles, Tom Enestvedt in the high jump, and Chuck Reichert, the most consistent and fastest runner on the team in the mid-distances and even, if necessary, in the dashes.

A May 17 report in the Record, mainly a preview of the St. John’s prospects in the conference meet, offered no hope of a happy ending for the team. According to the report, the squad had been afflicted with injuries and stood little chance of doing well. The list of injuries is impressive- shin splints, muscle pulls, muscle spasms, not to speak of slipped discs and other back injuries. Chuck Reichert had run in only one meet all spring, and he was not only the team captain but also the most reliable point winner among all the runners. It was feared that he would be unable to run at all.

Strong point of the team were the weight men: John McDowell, undefeated all season in the discus, Rich Froehle in the pole vault, Bob Spinner in the dashes and Chet Blascziek in the hurdles. Macalester repeated as MIAC track champions.

Roster: Ronald Amel, Chester Blascziek, Basil Christie, Nicholas Christianson, Thomas Enestvedt, John Erickson, David Hartle, David Honer, Patrick Jacobs, David Kelly, David Kuebelbeck, Leo Lundy, John McDonnell, Robert O’Hara, John Pierman, Charles Reichert, Lawrence Rooney, George Smith, Robert Spinner, Stanley Suchta, Kenneth Voss, George Welder

– 1964 –

The 1964 track season must have appeared uneventful to the Record sportswriters for they lavished headlines on baseball and tennis and neglected track and field. It was unfortunate for John McDowell who was the outstanding weight man in the discus and shot put throughout his four years at St. John’s. He probably was the best weight man St. John’s has ever had in these events, from the beginning of track and field up to the present time. In the 1964 MIAC meet he was the only St. John’s double winner and literally carried St. John’s to fourth place in the conference in an otherwise mediocre Jay season. With a little more depth in the running events, St. John’s could have gone far.

In the first meet of the season, April 15, St. John’s placed second behind MIAC champion, Macalester. What is remarkable about the meet is that St. John’s took first place in all the field events except one, whereas Macalester took first place in all the running events. McDowell won firsts in the discus and shot put, Ken Voss third in both events and Dave Honer second in the discus. Pat Jacobs won first place in the pole vault, William Blake second. Tom Enestvedt won first place in the high jump and second in the broad jump.

In a quadrangular meet between Hamline, Duluth and Augsburg, the Johnnies won first place through the work of McDowell, Voss and Enestvedt. In the track events Spinner was third in the 100-yard dash, Jon Theobald fourth; Paul Wieland took second in both the mile and half-mile. Enestvedt took third in the low hurdles; Richard Long came in third in the two-mile run.

In the conference championship meet St. John’s won fourth place, mainly on the victories of John McDowell in both the discus and the shot put. Dave Honer took third in the discus and Ken Voss third in the shot put.

McDowell, a genial, fun-loving giant who starred also at tackle on John Gagliardi’s NAIA champion football team of 1963, played professional football after graduation under Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers for several years before retiring.

Roster: William Blake, Frederick Cremer, Thomas Enestvedt, John Erickson, John Fabri, LeRoy Hagen, David Honer, Patrick Jacobs, Douglas Johnson, Anthony Kluk, John London, Richard Long, Leo Lundy, John McDowell, George Smith, Robert Spinner, Jon Theobald, Lloyd Wieland, Paul Wieland, Kenneth Voss

– 1965 –

The decline of interest in track at St. John’s that was noticeable in the 1963 and 1964 seasons became somewhat of a landslide in 1965. Track was completely ignored in the 1965 Sagatagan, the editors evidently rating it below wrestling and tennis-the minor sports, as they were then called. It was almost ignored in the Record also, except for a preview and two sketchy reports that offered little encouragement for the trackmen.

In the preview we read the following statement: “Until last year St. John’s track team had finished consistently in the MIAC’s upper division. This year, however, the track forecasters contemplate only gloom for the oncoming season. With the loss of lettermen Dave Honer, John McDowell, Bob Spinner and others, the prospects indeed have Stygian darkness” (Record, April 2, 1965).

The next report (April 30, 1965) repeats the gloomy prognosis for the season, following which it narrates the progress of the team to date:

“After a third place finish at Moorhead’s Concordia Relays, the Jays traveled to Gustavus for a quadrangular meet with Concordia, Hamline and Gustavus. Again, taking third, freshman Doug Johnson captured a first in the half-mile, and senior pole vaulter Bill Blake and weight men Fred Cremer and Mike Paquette collected points in their respective events.

The next and last report is contained in a brief summary of all the spring sports in one article entitled “Year-End Summary”:

“Two dual meet track victories against St. Thomas and Bethel managed to salvage an otherwise disappointing track season in 1965. SJU wound up next to last place Hamline in the MIAC meet at Macalester. The Johnnies’ Fred Cremer captured third place in the shot put, and half-miler Doug Johnson took second in his specialty” (Record, May 26, 1965).

Roster: John Albers, William Blake, Fred Cremer, Thomas Enestvedt, John Garceau, Patrick Jacobs, Douglas Johnson, Richard Landwehr, Philip Ledermann, Leo Lundy, James Moore, Donald Nett, Michael Paquette, George Smith, Lloyd Wieland, Paul Wieland

– 1966 –

When Jim Smith, the new basketball and track coach, took over the track reins in 1966 there was only one way track could move and that was up. His was a rebuilding job of the first magnitude-namely, to jump from the position of doormat of the conference to a respectable place among the leaders. However, despite the ten lettermen on which to build, there was lacking the necessary depth in the field events that is so necessary for a well-balanced team. He was aware of the dire need to recruit potential trackmen from among the student body in hopes of recruiting discus throwers, shot putters and jumpers to offset the weaknesses on the squad.

It was not long before Jim Smith’s driving and the hard work of the budding trackmen began to payoff. Fortunately, among the new aspirants were two newcomers of exceptional ability, a freshman basketball player who was also a high jumper and soon was known to his teammates as “Jumping Jim Holmes.” Another new star was sophomore David Lamm, a sprinter who in the very first meets attracted the attention not only of St. John’s but also of the entire conference. There were other talented freshmen, but for Coach Smith’s immediate needs Jim Holmes and Dave Lamm came onto the scene as gifts from the Olympic gods. In the MIAC meet held at the end of the season, Holmes took third place in the high jump and fourth in the broad ‘jump with a leap of 21 feet and over. Lamm ran the 100-yard dash in 9.8 time, tying the conference record set in 1958 by Concordia’s Gabrielson, and also tying the 53-year-old record of St. John’s set in 1913 by Robert “Bob” Hackner. Lamm probably would have won the 220-yard dash also had he not slipped when making the turn at the end of the track and had to settle for second place.

In the MIAC meet the Jays rang up 2131′points to take fourth place in the conference. Coach Smith was justifiably jubilant and began looking forward to the next season when his young tracksters would be more mature.

Other finishers in the 1966 MIAC meet were freshman Donald Nett (fourth in the 100-yard dash) and Mike Paquette, who placed fourth in the shot put (45’5″) and in the discus (134′). “Some of the ‘unsung heroes’ who contributed immensely to the track team’s performance were senior pole vaulter Pat Jacobs, senior half-miler Bill Carney, co captain Douglas Johnson and weight man Fred Cremer, John Rieder, a promising freshman, John Garceau, a distance man, Bob Froehle, Dave Haycraft, “Tex” Martin, Steve Kanies, Phil Ledermann, Jon Samuelson, Bill Thibedeau, and Rick Wong” (Record, May 27, 1966).

Roster: James Bauer, Robert Froehle, John Garceau, David Haycraft, James Holmes, Patrick Jacobs, Douglas Johnson, Steve Kanies, John King, David Lamm, Phil Ledermann, Thomas Linhof!, Patrick Marx, Gregory Motl, Donald Nett, Michael Paquette, John Rieder, Jon Samuelson, Jack Stube, John Stile, Robert Sullivan, Peter Terres, David Thein, William Thibedeau, Richard Wong Conference standing: Macalester 71, Gustavus 45, Concordia 33, St. John’s 2031′, St. Thomas 20, Augsburg 9, Hamline 6, Duluth 4

– 1967 –

On the opening of track competition in 1967 Jim Smith had reason to be enthusiastic about the future of track at St. John’s. On his team were two first-year men who were the prizes of the conference in 1966: David Lamm, a sprinter, and James Holmes, a jumper of extraordinary talent. Both were sure point winners from their first appearance at St. John’s. Supporting them as newcomers were Martin Lundy and Alpheus Finlayson, two triple jumpers from the Bahamas who, he thought, would be top performers in the long jump events. Besides, from 1966, he had co-captain Douglas Johnson in the quarter-mile and the half-mile, and co-captain John Garceau, a cross-country stand-out on whom he could depend for the mile and two-mile events.

In a series of six preliminary quadrangular and triangular events, St. John’s lost only one, and that one to talent-rich Macalester that was then in its ninth championship year, a stretch that began in 1959. The season was brightened by the feats of the “incomparable Dave Lamm” in the 100 and 220-yard dashes, setting a new record of nine and six-tenths in the 100-yard dash and on several other occasions equaling the :9.9 record of Cyril Paul. Not to be overshadowed by Lamm, Jim Holmes regularly jumped 6’1″, 6’2″, 6’4″, and once in a meet against Macalester shattered all the MIAC records with a leap of 6’8″, a feat that surprised even Holmes himself. He said, “The adrenal in must have been pretty high that day.” Martin Lundy and Al Finlayson regularly swept the triple jump event, John Garceau the mile and Michael Paquette the discus.

In the state meet held at Macalester, however, the coach’s fears that the lack of depth might be a handicap proved to be correct. St. John’s took third place behind Macalester, the winner, and Gustavus. Of the thirty-nine points garnered by the Jays, thirty-one were earned by the above-mentioned stars: Dave Lamm, Jim Holmes, Martin Lundy and Al Finlayson. Lamm broke the conference record in the 220 by a run of 21.7 seconds. As was expected, Holmes won the high jump with a leap of six feet, four inches, and took third place in the hop-step jump. Martin Lundy won the triple jump and Finlayson the hop-step- Jump.

Jim Smith was pleased with the results, but at the same time acknowledged his early fears that lack of depth had been a problem. In the May 26 Record he made an appeal for more participants: “This year we lacked depth and spread ourselves out too thin, but I know there are guys who can help us out next spring. I don’t know if they are shy or what.” With more participants he promised a championship.

Roster: John Blin, John Cragg, Alpheus Finlayson, John Garceau, James Holmes, Douglas Johnson, Steve Kanies, Daniel Klenow, William Laliberte, David Lamm, Martin Lundy, John Martin, Dennis Merritt, Paul Muckerheide, Michael Paquette, John Rieder, Dennis Scherer, John Stube, William Thibedeau

– 1968 –

The year 1968 was crucial in St. John’s track history. Macalester had been MIAC champion for nine consecutive years and the Jays were united in their resolve to unseat the Macs from the throne and occupy the lofty position themselves. It was by no means an idle dream. The Jays were loaded with talent as never before in St. John’s track history. Jim Smith had revived interest in cross-country in the fall of 1965, and now in 1968 he had in the ranks of his trackmen the crack cross-country trio of John Cragg, Jeff Brain and Charles “Chuck” Ceronsky, each of whom was capable of taking first place in. all the distance runs from the mile to the three-mile events-and the six-mile, if need be.

Dave Lamm in the dashes, Holmes in the high jump, the Bahamians Martin Lundy and Al Finlayson were as safe for winning points as money in the bank.

Filling out the list of promising contestants were several freshmen with fine high school records: Timothy Muller in the shot put and the discus, and Tom Schutta in the same events to support the work of veteran Mike Paquette. A weakness in the long jump and the hurdles still worried Jim Smith, but the lack of good hurdle material was taken care of by the addition to the team of flashy freshman Don Kluk, “Tex” Martin and Denny Merritt. It was no wonder that the Jays waded through the regular triangular and quadrangular meets without serious setbacks, thereby strengthening their resolve to win the conference meet, despite the known power of Macalester.

The MIAC meet bore out the soundness of the Jays’ hopes as well as their respect for Macalester. The well-balanced Macs squeezed by the Jays in a close 93-78,U victory to retain their title. Unfortunately the skimpy, incomplete report on the meet in the May 17, 1968 Record conveys nothing of the drama of a thrilling contest between two talented teams. The speedy Dave Lamm set two conference records, “blitzing the 100 in 9.6 seconds and the 220 in 21.5 seconds.” Jim Holmes took first place in the high jump at six feet, two inches and scored in second place in the triple jump. Al Finlayson took first place in the triple jump.

Another exciting event was the high hurdles in which freshman Donald Kluk broke the conference record in 14.5 seconds time. John Cragg provided the heroic act of the conference when he won the threemile event despite an only partially knitted broken bone in his left foot. In fact, he set a new record for the three-mile at 14 :33.

In a recent letter Dave Lamm, ’68, holder of St. John’s records in the 100 and 220-yard dashes (9.5 in the 100-yard dash, 9.4 wind-aided), writes that he still takes part in summer open meets. Last summer he ran a 10.7 in a 100-meter dash, which relates to 9.8 or 9.9 in the 100- yard dash. “At my age I am very pleased with that.” His wife Pamela added a postscript that he holds the Governor’s Physical Fitness State Meet records in the 100 and 220-yard dashes for the 25-30 and 31-39 age groups. He also holds the University of Minnesota intramural records for the same events from his law school days. Dave is practicing law in Mankato.

Roster: Jeff Brain, Charles Ceronsky, Gregory Cook, John Cragg, Alpheus Finlayson, Robert Fisher, Michael Halloran, Al Hechtman, James Holmes, Frank Hudoba, William Johnson, Jon Kallman, Daniel Klenow, Donald Kluk, David Lamm, John “Tex” Martin, Dennis Merritt, Kevin Moehn, Timothy Muller, Martin Lundy, Thomas Schutta, David Sier, John Stube, William Thibedeau, John Traynor, George Wilson, Peter Stickler

Conference standing: Macalester 93, St. John’s 7S,U, Hamline 32, Gustavus 15, Concordia 15, St. Thomas 10, Augsburg 7, Duluth 5,U

-1969 –

When Coach Smith in his third year at the helm of St. John’s track team looked over his 1969 prospects, it was with fervent longing for the championship. Macalester was still the top power in the conference, helped along by its excellent indoor facilities. But the Jays had been gradually creeping up on the Macs and the situation looked promising for an upset of the eleven-year champions. It did not turn out that way, but the story of the season is still a thrilling one.

St. John’s had undoubtedly the advantage of having on the team the strongest distance runners of the 1968 cross-country champions- Chuck Ceronsky, John Cragg, Jeff Brain, and now freshman Joe Skaja. St. John’s was weak in the sprints, however, having lost the “incomparable” Dave Lamm through graduation, but there were promising replacements in John Rieder, Henry Funk, Kevin Moehn and Donald Holtzman. In the 880 race Gregory Cook was holder of the school record in that event, and Don Kluk was the undefeated conference champion hurdler with an imposing record in the NAIA. Among the jumpers were Jim Holmes, Al Finlayson, Martin Lundy, Peter Stickler and several understudies in all the jumping events. In the weights were Tim Muller and John Stube. There was reason for optimism in the Johnnie camp, though the fact that St. Thomas and Gustavus were strong enough in 1969 to take away points from St. John’s (and Macalester) rendered speculations concerning the MIAC standings for the year fruitless.

In a quadrangular meet involving Gustavus, St. Thomas, Augsburg and St. John’s, Gustavus tied the Johnnies 53-53, although the Jays took five first places, six second places, three third places and five fourth places.

In preparation for the 1969 meet Coach Smith split his team, sending seven men to the Drake Relays and entering the remainder of the team in the Bethel Relays. Joe Skaja, only a freshman, won second place in the Drake 26-mile marathon. In the Bethel Relays, St. John’s, minus its top men, took second place to Hamline: Don Kluk won the high hurdles, Jon Kallman the two-mile, Martin Lundy and Frank Hudoba the triple jump, Jim Holmes and Tim Muller won the javelin relay.

In an elaborately detailed account of the St. John’s prospects in its upcoming MIAC meet (Record, May 9, 1969), Jim Smith conceded that the outcome was a toss-up. He added the comment that he would welcome in the crowd of spectators some of the “Rats” who had helped his basketball team win the MIAC championship. John Cragg agreed:

“It will take a top-notch performance by every man on the team. Everybody wants a shot at Macalester, though, and I’m sure we’ll be able to get up for the meet” (ibid).

By some editorial error the Record failed to report the outcome of the meet. Macalester defended its title successfully, however. It is probable that St. John’s took second place, for in 1970 the Jays won  the championship and retained it for the next four years consecutively.

Roster: Jeff Brain, John Cragg, Chuck Ceronsky, Henry Funk, AI Hechtman, James Holmes, Donald Holtzman, Jon Kallman, Martin Lundy, “Tex” Martin, Timothy Muller, Ron Nagurski, John Rieder, Thomas Schutta, Gary Stanoch, Peter Stickler, John Stube, Paul Weingert

– 1970 –

There was rejoicing in the ranks of the St. John’s trackmen when the 1970MIAC meet was over and the Jays had out-scored Macalester 71U-64 for the championship. It had been a close contest between the three top teams in the conference-Macalester, St. John’s and Hamline. Hamline took third place with 53 points.

Credit for the championship was due to Coach Jim Smith, who for four seasons had worked hard to catch up with powerful Macalester, training his men to pick up third, fourth and fifth place points as well as firsts and seconds, with the objective of coming up finally with a strong, well-balanced offense. According to Conrad Stroebe, the Record commentator assigned to cover the 1970 meet, the title was won pretty much as a strategic victory, with Smith deploying his men according to the strengths of Macalester, rather than to its weaknesses (of which there were very few). He pointed out in particular the strategy involved in winning the 880 run, an event that had been won three years consecutively by Macalester’s great middle distance star, Dave Hodge. Hodge ran the mile race also, and when the event came up Coach Smith ordered Paul Muckerheide, his miler, to set a fast pace in hopes of tiring Hodge. Hodge won the event in the fast time of four minutes and ten seconds, but he was so exhausted that he failed even to place in his specialty, the 880. Hodge’s failure to perform as usual opened the door to the Jays’ Greg Cook, who ran the best race of his career and copped first place in one minute, 54 seconds. Mike Kremer took fifth place, with the result that St. John’s gained seven points in an area where the year before Macalester had garnered thirteen.

Donald Kluk, one of the best hurdlers at St. John’s from his freshman to his senior year, took two first places in the high and intermediate hurdles-an additional blow aimed at Macalester’s strength.

Hard work and long-range planning had paid off. When he first assumed the duties of track coach, Coach Smith had brought about he revival of cross-country and by 1970 had gathered together a four or-five-man team of the finest cross-country runners in MIAC history: John Cragg, Jeff Brain, Chuck Ceronsky, Joe Skaja, Paul Muckerheide, Jon Kallman and others. It was this team that provided the “unbeatable competition” that brought down the Macalester twelve-year reign over MIAC track. The cross-country runners filled the gap caused by the graduation of Dave Lamm, of whom Jim Holmes once remarked, “He was not only a runner, he was half a track team.”

St. John’s had an impressive record for success in other track contests outside the MIAC. Donald Kluk won the All-American title in the hurdles at the NAIA nationals. Chuck Ceronsky won the 27-mile marathon championship at the University of Kansas Relays. Joe Skaja won second place in the Drake Relays’ 25-mile marathon.

Roster: Dave Arnold, James Boehlke, Jeff Brain, Charles Ceronsky, Gregory Cook, John Cragg, Henry Funk, Alpheus Finlayson, Frederick Halloran, Francis Hudoba, Terry Kapsen, Donald Kluk, Michael Kremer, Martin Lundy, Pat McCatherty, William McNamara, Kevin Moehn, Paul Muckerheide, Timothy Muller, Mark Lundy, Brian Racette, Stanley Reuther, James Ryczek, Joseph Skaja, Bernard Smith, Gary Stanoch, Paul Weingart

Conference standing: St. John’s 71U, Macalester 64, Hamline 53, Concordia 18U, St. Thomas 18, Duluth 12, Gustavus 10, Augsburg 9

– 1971 –

Spirits were high in the St. John’s camp for a repetition of the 1970 MIAC track championship. Spirits were so high, in fact, that some of the 1970 stars were looking forward to the All-American rankings in the NCAA-NAIA national meets that usually finished off the entire season. In his column “It Takes Leather,” Marty Fenlon warned them: “We hear rumors that the track team will be the best ever. It seems that these boys are looking past the MIAC to bigger gatherings. We hope that in looking past the conference they don’t forget about it” (Record, March 12, 1971).

The openly expressed self-confidence of the squad was excusable, for on the team were All-American hurdler Don Kluk, MIAC 880 champion Greg Cook, John Cragg, Jeff Brain and Joe Skaja, champion  cross-country distance runners, Dave Arnold in the 440 and the long jump, not to speak of outstanding newcomers Chuck Way, Dave Lyndgaard, Rudy Sawyer, Bill McNamara, Dan Smith and Bill Joyce. Chuck Ceronsky, who graduated in 1970, was Smith’s assistant coach.

In preparing for the MIAC meet, Jim Smith again showed his concern about providing stiff opposition for his tracksters by splitting up his squad and sending small groups to the Drake Relays or the Kansas University Relays, and keeping the major part of the squad for the Minnesota meets: e.g., the Bethel and the Carleton Relays. Highlight of the 1971 weekend at Kansas University was assistant coach Ceronsky’s 27-mile marathon championship, which he won for the second year. “Chuck and Steve Young from New Mexico ran shoulder to shoulder for 25 miles,” said Coach Smith, “but Chuck left him on a hill at the close.”

St. John’s two-mile team of Greg Cook, Mike Kremer, Bill Seidel and Chuck Way also did well, setting a school record of seven minutes and 54 seconds. The Record prognosticator predicted that Kluk would probably be the class winner of the conference in both the high and the intermediate hurdles. In 1970 he was champion in both and also champion for the third year in the high hurdles.

In spite of all the doubtings of Coach Smith and his precautions to avoid over-confidence in his track team, the 1971 squad turned out to be the strongest in St. John’s history up to that time and won the championship handily. As expressed by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 15, 1971, “A well-balanced St. John’s University track team made a shambles of the 51st annual MIAC conference meet at Macalester’s Shaw Stadium Saturday. The Jays, led by Chuck Way and scoring in 15 of the 17 events, finished with the greatest total in the conference history as they almost doubled the second-place team.”

The conference teams’ total points were as follows: St. John’s 102, Hamline 58}/” St. Thomas 48, Macalester 24, Concordia 14}/” Duluth 12, Gustavus 24, Augsburg 9.

Chuck Way, St. John’s star runner from LeSueur, a senior transfer from Northwestern, was the only triple winner of the meet, winning the half-mile, the mile and anchoring the second-place relay team. He was voted the outstanding athlete of the meet and winner of the Carl Larson Memorial Trophy.

The most thrilling of the races, at least in the last twenty yards, was the three-mile contest between John Cragg and Joe Skaja, both St. John’s contestants. Cragg, a star runner in his high school days at Cretin in St. Paul and throughout his college career at St. John’s, was a dedicated track man and a determined competitor. Even as a freshman cross-country runner he had set the conference record in the three mile run at 14 minutes, 33 seconds. He was already a three-time champion in this event and in 1971 wanted to make it four in his last college race, despite having ruptured an Achilles tendon in January and not having run all spring in the preliminary meets.

In the race, Cragg stayed with the pack through the first mile, then moved up in front with his teammate Skaja for the second mile. With Cragg leading the way in the third mile, they pulled away from the other competitors and kept increasing their lead. Then in the last twenty yards Skaja sprinted out of the last turn, and Cragg, his injured leg and knees torturing him, was unable to meet the challenge. Skaja’s time of 14:29.5 broke the 14:33 record set by Cragg as a freshman. The irony of it all is that Cragg broke his own record at the same time in spite of his bad leg, finishing for his defeat by Skaja in 14:29.8. Cragg, game to the end, offered no excuses: “I couldn’t sprint. I just wasn’t ready to run.”

After following the athletic careers of those extraordinary distance runners Cragg-Ceronsky, Brain-Skaja, who along with Dave Lamm in the sprints put St. John’s on the map in track, we wonder what happened to their running in this era of jogging and running for physical fitness and longevity. First comes John Cragg, ’71, styled by Joe Skaja as the greatest runner in St. John’s history. The leg that tormented him in his last year of college competition finally incapacitated him for running. After an M.S. in oceanography and work in that field, he finally settled on medicine for a lifetime career. He graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine in 1978 and is planning to specialize in orthopedic surgery. For recreation he has substituted tennis and sailing for track.

Chuck Ceronsky, ’70, is still running eight or nine miles a day, depending on the time he has available. After his graduation in 1970 he stayed on at St. John’s and earned the master of arts degree in sacred studies, in the meantime assisting Jim Smith coach the track team. He was the first layman in the United States to be certified as a chaplain by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. He served as chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital, Minneapolis, for several years and at present is director of the Respect for Life Program in the archdiocese.

Jeff Brain, ’71, now a unit manager with the American Linen Supply Company in Minneapolis, continued his running career after graduation. He ran in the Boston Marathon in 1972 and ’73. Also in 1972 he ran in the National ASU Marathon, finishing in sixteenth place. He has been president of the Minnesota Distance Running Association and editor of the association’s newsletter. An attack of sciatica in 1973 ended his competitive running. But in 1976 he discovered bicycling and in the spring of 1978 was still looking forward to a big year.

Roster: David Arnold, James Boehlke, Jeff Brain, Gregory Cook, Kevin Carlson, John Cragg, Michael Fahey, Kevin Gallagher, Charles Harvey, David Holzemer, Donald Kluk, Michael Kremer, David Lyndgaard, William McNamara, Kevin Moehn, Timothy Muller, Jerry Neubauer, Nicholas Overby, Andrew Riehl, Chris Rose, Stanley Ruether, Rudy Savage, Rudy Sawyer, Norbert Schneider, William Seidel, Joseph Skaja, Daniel Smith, Peter Stickler, Charles “Chuck” Way

-1972 –

The only Record report on track for the year 1972 was an announcement in the April 28 issue of the coming MIAC championship tournament to be held at Macalester, together with a preview of the team St. John’s could muster in defense of its title. The conclusion of the sportswriter was that, in spite of the loss of graduated John Cragg and Don Kluk, the Jays were well able to make a good account of themselves.

The distance runners, he reported, were practically unbeatable: namely, Joe Skaja, Dave Lyndgaard and Norbert Schneider, with the fine freshmen distance runners Michael Fahey, Daniel Smith and Kevin Carlson. Mike Kremer, 1971 champion in the steeplechase, was reasonably certain to take first place in his bid for a repeat in 1972. The middle distance runners, the hurdlers and 880 relay men, however, presented the strongest sector of the team: Jerry Neubauer, Dan Smith and Bill Joyce, all holdovers from 1971. Freshmen Barney Smith, Mike Heimann and Matthew Williams were competing with them for places on the team.

From casual observations found in the Sagatagan and particularly in the official records of the MIAC, St. John’s defended its championship successfully and was awarded the 1972 title.

– 1973 –

Except for a blast leveled at the 1973 Jays for a miserable showing at an indoor track meet they had lost, the only track news for the year was a preview of the upcoming MIAC track tournament. It was a somewhat pessimistic review, predicting the loss of the MIAC championship if the Jays did not improve. The headline reads as follows: “Top Quality Missing. No Track Stars Among Tracksters.” Pessimistic though it was, the evaluation on the whole was correct and opportune. It turned out that the 1973 Jays won the track championship again for the fourth time in as many years, but not because of “stars” on the team so much as the steady quality of several track members who were able to pick up second, third and fourth places, thereby amassing enough points to edge runner up Hamline by three points, 77-74. While Hamline was relegated to second place, it won eight first places to only three by St. John’s. The St. John’s victory was essentially a team effort.

The MIAC track tournament was a thriller. The outcome was not settled until the last event of the two-day tournament had been run off. The three-mile race was won by a stratagem that paid off. It is an interesting story: going into the three-mile race, St. John’s and Hamline were locked in a 64-64 tie, with the championship hanging on the result of the three-mile race. Hamline’s Dave Teague, a truly great distance runner, had already won the one-mile and the six-mile races and was on the verge of making a full sweep of the distance events. Coach Jim Smith, however, fully aware of the potential of the talented Teague, withdrew Kevin Carlson, the top St. John’s distance man, from the one-mile and the six-mile races in order to keep him fresh for the three-mile, hoping to salvage the three-mile points instead of turning them over to Hamline. The plan worked. The rested Carlson defeated Teague for the first time in the season and also set a new conference record in the process.

Hamline coach Dave Stahly after the meet acknowledged the effectiveness of the strategy: “All season long Teague has had the best times in the state for his events, but this time, when the three-mile came up, his energy was depleted” (St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 13, 1973).

As for the meet in general, both Smith and Stahly agreed that the meet was won by St. John’s in the 440 hurdles: “The Johnnies picked up 13 points in that event while the Pipers were blanked” (Pioneer Press, May 13, 1973). Greg Traxler won the race in 56.6 seconds while teammates Matt Williams, Mike Heimann and Marty Smith finished second, fourth and fifth respectively.

This was Jim Smith’s last year as track coach at St. John’s. On the resignation of George Durenberger, Smith succeeded him as Director of Athletics. The 1973 championship came as a fitting swan song when his athletes carried him in a victory march that ended when they tossed him into the water hazard of the steeplechase-the traditional price a track coach pays for his championships.

Individual results: 3-mile, Kevin Carlson; 1st steeplechase, Timothy Heisel; 5th long jump, Dave Arnold; 4th 880 run, Jim Boehlke; 4th 440 hurdles, Michael Heimann; 3rd steeplechase, Dave Lyndgaard; 4th shot put, William McNamara; 5th 220 dash, Jerry Neubauer; 5th 880 run, Brian Racette; 2nd 1 mile, Sudsy Seidl; 2nd javelin, Richard Schletty; 3rd long jump, Al Van Landschoot; 4th shotput, Kurt Wachtler; 2nd 440 hurdles, Matthew Williams

Conference standing: St. John’s 77, Hamline 74, St. Thomas 46, Gustavus 30, Concordia 21, Duluth 13, Augsburg 5

– 1974 –

On his appointment as Director of Athletics, Jim Smith relinquished his work as track coach and appointed David Arnold, a newly graduated trackman, to take his place. It was a happy choice. Arnold had a prestigious background in athletics, especially in football and track: the all-conference award at end in football for three consecutive years, the all-NAIA award twice, and was captain in his senior year. For a “At the close of the meet Coach Arnold expressed his appreciation of the team’s performance: ‘Hamline is just an awesome team and is building towards an empire with their fourth straight championship. I was pleased to place second. Our team was a close-knit unit and many personal bests were turned in-which is important to me as a coach.’ “

Conference standing: Hamline 187, St. John’s 104, St. Thomas 95, Concordia 67, Gustavus 50, St. Olaf 50, Augsburg 21, Macalester 15.

The NCAA Nationals

None of the seven qualified performers for the national championships fared well in the NCAA at Grand Rapids, Michigan, except Steve Gathje. Steve had qualified to run both the three-mile and the six-mile races-he chose the six-mile. In an outstanding field Steve came in around ninth place, but interestingly enough, his time as he passed the three-mile mark would have been good enough to gain for him All-American honors had he chosen the three-mile race.

Roster: Gary Albrecht, Dan Bane, Ben Belden, Fred Bock, Bernie Borschke, Pat Bussen, Jay Colleran, Andy Cragg, Pete Dilulio, Gary Donahue, Mike Doherty, Loren Ehrmantraut, Pete Gathje, Bill Greig, Norton HatIie, Paul Hazuka, Steve Gathje, Tim Hendricks, Tom Herbst, Paul Johnston, Dave Kishel, Terry Kelly, Jeff Korsmo, Dale Kiedrowski, Ted Lexmond, Steve Marcella, Chris Lee, Rod LeVake, Gary Lust, Joe Metzger, Pat McCann, Dan McGuinn, Jim Moodie, Chris Napp, Mike O’Brien, Randy Odendahl, Mark Palmquist, Jeff Page, Dave Philp, Tom Scanlan, Kevin Riley, John Skrbec, Jim Sayler, John Smith, Tom Sexton, Joe Sokolowski, Bob Teigen, Tim Schmitz, Jim Simons, Mark Undeberg, Paul Theobald, Dean Wood, Rick Zieske

– 1978 –

By Mike Bauer

The opening of the 1978 track season found Mike Bauer, All- American hurdler, at the head of the track forces. On losing the consistent scoring power of distance star Steve Gathje, javelin thrower Rod LeVake, and jumper Dave Philp, the track team had some vitally important spots to fill. A true blessing was bestowed on the team, however- the fact that this year’s freshman class included ten Minnesotastate meet participants, three of whom were state champions. The end of the season proved this year to be “The Year of the Freshmen.” Although we got off to a slow start indoors, with many of our frosh sustaining minor injuries on the hard-surfaced indoor track, we still came through with some excellent individual performances. Distance ace Joe Perske and Pete Gathje shattered the previous two-mile indoor mark when they ran it in 9:13 and 9:16 respectively. Freshmen Chris Longbella and Mike Kennedy registered new indoor marks in the pole vault with leaps of 13 feet, 4 inches. Star freshman Tom Frericks was only three-tenths off the Warner Palaestra record in the 300-yard dash with a 32.9 finish. Junior Pete Gathje set an indoor record in the three mile run (14:35), and Norton Hatlie bettered his own record in the 1,000-yard run in 2:16.8 time.

As the season progressed, we saw improvement being made meet after meet, and two weeks before the MIAC meet we won the Bethel Relays against most of the conference powers. As the MIAC tournament drew closer, the freshman dominance over the team began to show. Both relay teams (the 440 and the mile) had three freshmen each. The 440 relay team of Pat Stone (freshman), James Simons(senior), Mike Frericks (freshman) and Thomas Frericks (freshman)took first place in the MIAC tournament in the excellent time of 42.9.

At this point in the meet the Durenberger All-Sports Trophy came into the picture. It found St. John’s and St. Thomas tied in team standings. Thus, with the mile relay being the only event left to add points for the trophy, the burden of winning their relay race against St. Thomas and breaking the tie lay on the shoulders of the freshmen and Gary Donahue, the only upperclassman on the relay team. Gary informed his relay teammates, freshman John Gagliardi, Jr., frosh Tom Frericks and anchorman Chuck Moorse that they had to better St. Thomas by two places in the mile relay to win the All-Sports Trophy contest.

Running against a thirty miles-an-hour wind, all four relay men ran superbly in competition against experienced teams. Donahue and Gagliardi ran the opening legs, while frosh Frericks ran a 49.6 third leg (an amazing time considering the wind velocity), and anchorman Chuck Moorse nosed out St. Olaf for fourth place in the event, just enough to out-score the Tommies and win the All-Sports Trophy by two points and also take third place in the MIAC.

Other outstanding performances at the conference meet were Norton Hatlie’s first-place finish in the steeplechase and also the tie of Ted Lexmond and Paul Theobald for second place in the high jump.

1978 Nationals

St. John’s had four qualifiers for the 1978 nationals: Joe Perske, Loren Ehrmantraut, Norton Hatlie and Gary Albrecht. Ehrmantraut did not compete in the nationals, however, because of an injury sustained in the MIAC meet.

Joe Perske qualified in three events in the NCAA, the six-mile, the three-mile and the steeplechase, whereas in the NAIA he had the choice of the marathon. Perske chose the NAIA marathon down in Abilene, Texas. He had been training for the twenty-six mile race all year, logging as many as 560 miles in one month and averaging 450 miles per month. Joe felt stronger in the longer runs and proved this by placing fourth in a field of top-flight marathoners. His time of 2:26, 11.0 was a whole minute faster than the previous marathon time of Chuck Ceronsky in 1970.

Norton Hatlie qualified for the steeplechase, held at the NCAA meet in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He ran well in the qualifying rounds and made the finals. He missed the finisher’s place (the top six), but came in at eleventh in the nation. He felt he could have done better, but he had a hard time in the 92-degree heat and the 85 percent humidity. Gary Albrecht threw the javelin well and ended in twelfth place. What he appreciated especially was that he beat all the other “spear chuckers” from the MIAC conference.

Roster: Gary Albrecht, Mark Bechtold, Pat Bussen, Michael Doherty, Gary Donahue, Mark Doyle, Loren Ehrmantraut, Tom Eickhoff, David Evans, Michael Frericks, Tom Frericks, John Gagliardi, Tom Gasperlin, Peter Gathje, Norton Hatlie, Paul Hazuka, Tim Hendricks, Tom Herbst, Terry Kelly, Michael Kennedy, Steve Kennedy, Dale Kiedrowski, Ted Lexmond, Chris Longbella, Dennis Lothenbach, Gary Lust, Pat McCann, Dan McGuinn, Tim McKenna, Joe Metzger, James Moodie, Charles Moorse, Tom Novak, Mike O’Brien, Jeff Page (captain), Joe Perske, Jeff Pribyl, Tom Scanlan, Tom Sexton, Mark Shimota, James Simons, Joe Sokolowski, Steve Sornsin, Pat Stone, Paul Theobald (captain), Tim Thornton, Mark Undeberg, Reggie Wilson, Joseph Zabinski