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.

This Day in Track & Field–February 20

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

1976–John Radetich, competing in the professional International Track Association (ITA) meet in Salt Lake City, cleared   7-6 (2.29) to better Dwight Stones’s World Record in the High Jump (7-5 3/4 [2.28]). Radetich’s celebration ended quickly after he was told that Stones had jumped 7-6 1/4 (2.295) the same day in New York!

Dwight Stones’ “Combo Platter”

20/21  1975 (21)–After convincing meet director Jesse Abramson to set up the high jump approach at Madison Square Garden to accommodate his flop style, Dwight Stones made good on his promise to set a World Record, clearing 7-5 ¾ (2.28)  at the Olympic Inv. to better his previous mark of 7-5 ½ (2.275). Abramson was the legendary NY track and field journalist who is the namesake of many journalism awards.

1976(20)–Feeling listless earlier in the day, “Big D” needed all of his energy to fight off a strong challenge from Rory Kotinek (7-5 [2.26]) and went on to set another world record at the Olympic Inv. (7-6  1/4). His mark also bettered the professional best of 7-6 (2.29) that John Radetich had set earlier in the day in Salt Lake City. The Pole Vault produced another global best as Dan Ripley jumped 18-3 ¾ (5.58) to regain the World Record in the Pole Vault. Finishing 2nd (17-10 [5.435]) was Poland’s Wladyslaw Kozakiewicz, who had set the previous mark of 18-3 ½ (5.575) the week before in Toronto.

New York City, Madison Square Gardens, in the 1950s, from sport stadium postcards

1976(21)–Traveling back to his native California for the Jack-in-the-Box meet in San Diego, a tired Stones set his 2nd World Record in 24 hours, his 7-6  ½ (2.30) clearance netting him his 7th (and final) Indoor mark. It also matched his outdoor World Record.

T&F News Cover


1981–A record attempt in the Mile “was on”, as the runners would say, at the Jack-in-the-Box meet on San Diego’s fast 11-lap track, but who would win the race?  Steve Scott had already beaten Eamonn Coghlan, the present record holder (3:52.6 on this same track), twice earlier in the season, and the field also included John Walker and Ray Flynn. Those were the 4 fastest indoor milers in history at this point.

Steve Scott racing in Europe, photo from Steve Scott collection

            Phil “Tiny” Kane, Coghlan’s former teammate at Villanova, was the designated rabbit, and he took the field through the 1/2-mile in 1:55.4. Scott then took over and led at the 3/4-split in a slower-than-expected 2:55.4, allowing Coghlan to regroup. (“I was running back and forth like a yo-yo [in the first half]”.

Starting his kick with two laps to go, Coghlan, who had been pointing towards this race all season, passed Scott and pulled away to win in an amazing 3:50.6, smashing his previous mark by a full 2 seconds. Scott held on for 2nd, setting a since-broken American record of 3:51.8, Walker followed  in 3:52.8, and Flynn completed the greatest indoor mile mass-finish in history with his time of 3:53.6.

Coghlan, while thrilled by his great effort, admitted later that he was actually hoping to get under 3:50–something he would finally do two years later when he ran 3:49.78 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

Sports Illustrated Vaulthttp://tinyurl.com/SIVault81Coghlan3526


1981–The mile wasn’t the only big event on this day in 1981. 19-year-old Carl Lewis, a sophomore at the University of Houston, got his first World Record when he long-jumped 27-10  ¼ (8.49) at the Southwest Conference Championships in Fort Worth, Texas, to break Larry Myricks’s previous mark of 27-5 ¾ (8.375).  It was the 2nd conference title for Lewis, who had earlier won the 60-yard dash in 6.06, only .02s off the world record. Said Houston coach Tom Tellez, in what would prove to be quite an understatement, “People just didn’t believe in Carl Lewis. I think they will now”.

1981—Margaret Groos set a World Record of 15:34.5 for 5000 meters in Blacksburg, VA.



1987—Maren Seidler’s 9-year-old American Indoor Record of 61-2  ¼ (18.65) in the Women’s Shot Put took a pounding from Ramona Pagel at the Los Angeles Times meet in Inglewood, California.

            Pagel, already the U.S. Outdoor Record holder at 62-9  ¼ (19.13),  raised the Indoor best to 62-2  ¼ (18.95) in the first round and went to another level with her next two puts of 63-11  ½ (19.49) and 64-1  ¾ (19.55). She “slacked off” to 63-2  ¼ (19.26) in the 4th round, fouled in the 5th, then broke another barrier with her final toss of 65-3/4 (19.83)!

            Before her career was over, Pagel would become a 4-time U.S.  Olympian (1984-1996) and would win seven Indoor and five Outdoor U.S. titles.  The 65-3/4 would remain her indoor best but improved her American Outdoor Record to   66-2  ½ (20.18) in 1988. That mark lasted for 25 years until Michelle Carter threw 66-5 (20.24) in 2013 (Jill Camarena equaled Pagel’s mark in 2011).