Walt Murphy is one of the finest track geeks that I know. Walt does #ThisDayinTrack&FieldHistory, an excellent daily service that provides true geek stories about our sport. You can check out the service for FREE with a free one-month trial subscription! (email: WaltMurphy44@gmail.com ) for the entire daily service. We will post a few historic moments each day, beginning February 1, 2024.

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By Walt Murphy’s News and Results Service (wmurphy25@aol.com), used with permission.


This Day in Track & Field/X-Country–April 2

1935–Lillian Copeland, the 1932 Olympic Champion in the Women’s Discus, threw the Shot 40-5 (12.32) at the 2nd Jewish Olympics/Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv, Palestine, to break her own American Record (38-5  ½ [11.72[) by almost two feet. She also won gold medals in the Discus and Javelin.

Financial problems and a late arrival at the 18th Street Pier in New York City almost prevented Copeland and the rest of the U.S. delegation from boarding the ship that would take them to Tel Aviv!

Lillian Copeland, 1938, photo is public domain, from Wikipedia

Athletes from many countries, including all 350 members of the Bulgarian team, remained in Palestine after the Games were over.

Copeland also held American Records in the Discus and Javelin and won 9 U.S. titles in three events–5  in the Shot Put, two in the Discus, and two in the Javelin She was inducted into the National Hall of Fame in 1994.

Maccabiah Gameshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1935_Maccabiah_Games


HOF Biohttps://www.usatf.org/athlete-bios/lillian-copeland

1955—Wes Santee, “The Kansas Cowboy,” ran 4:00.5 in Austin, Texas, to break the American Record for the fourth and final time but fell just short of becoming the first American to run a sub-4-minute mile. Santee’s pursuit of the 4-minute mile, along with that of Roger Bannister and John Landy, is chronicled in the book The Perfect Mile.

Wes Santee, photo by University of Kansas/AP

 Hall of Fame Biohttps://www.usatf.org/athlete-bios/wes-santee



1960–Using a borrowed implement (his was being repaired), future Hall-of-Famer Bill Nieder, like Santee, a former Kansas Jayhawk, regained the Shot Put World Record from Dallas Long in a big way at the Texas Relays with his throw of 65-7 (19.99), besting Long’s previous mark by more than a foot.

Hall of Fame Biohttps://www.usatf.org/athlete-bios/bill-nieder

WR Progressionhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men’s_shot_put_world_record_progression

Kansas Hall of Fame:  https://www.kshof.org/team/bill-nieder


1960—Ray Norton ran 9.3 in San Jose to equal the World Record for 100-Yards that he already shared with 7 others, including Mel Patton, Dave Sime, and Bobby Morrow

1960—Northeast Louisiana’s Don Styron ran 21.9 in Baton Rouge to break the World Record in the 220y-Hurdles. Elias Gilbert set the previous mark of 22.1 in 1958.

Four months earlier, Styron’s training had been interrupted when he accidentally shot himself in the right leg with a pistol. The bullet was removed from his right thigh and he was back running the next day!

(From the IAAF Progression of World Records)

1968—South Africa’s Paul Nash ran 10.0 for 100 meters in Krugersdorp to equal the World Record that was first set by Germany’s Armin Hary in 1960. Others sharing the record included Harry Jerome, Bob Hayes, and Jim Hines.

1971–Russ Francis, a senior at Pleasant Hill H.S. who had never even seen a javelin when he moved from Hawaii to Oregon, threw 184-2 (56.13m) in his first competition.  That was a modest opener for Francis, who went on to set three National H.S. Records with the “old” implement in 1971: 253-1 (77.14/5-7), 254-11 (77.70/5-27), and 259-9 (79.17/6-12). The latter mark stood for 17 years until the late Art Skipper threw 259-10 (79.20, Sandy, OR) in 1988. He also finished 4th at the U.S. Championships in 1971.

Russ Francis, AR High School, Javelin throw, photo by Pleasant High School

Francis spent over ten years in the NFL as a tight end with New England and San Francisco and was a 49ers’ 1984 Super Bowl Championship team member. Among his teammates were fellow track and field stars Michael Carter and Renaldo Nehemiah. Francis, following in the footsteps of his father (Ed), also spent some time as a professional wrestler and ran for Congress in Hawaii in 2000. He died in a plane crash in 2023 at the age of 70.




Wrestling Videohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uW9_b9U4084