The August 2003 TAFNEWS has articles about Kelli White (pg.23)and Grace Upshaw (pg.29) daughters of former 1950"s Cal Bears Willie White & Monte Upshaw.
It got my trivia juices flowing. As I recall Willie White won the 100 yd dash for Jefferson H.S., L.A in the Calif. State H.S. Meet in 1956 and Monte Upshaw, Piedmont, won the LJ and 180 yd LH and finished 2nd in the 120 yd HH in 1954. I think they both joined Cal along with Don Bowden, Lincoln, San Jose former sub-4 miler and H.S. record holder in 880 yd run and Leamon King of Delano H.S., who later ran 10.1 100m. King just passed away in the last year.
My TAFNews only go back to late 1959. Can anyone confirm, or deny, my recollections? Did all 4 of these guys compete at Cal at the same time?
In 1958 King (3rd and 2nd in the sprints as a junior) was a senior, White was a soph, Bowden was a senior, Upshaw was a senior. Only White and Bowden scored in the NCAA, so I don't actually know if King and Upshaw were still in school/on the team, but the timing was right for them to do so. I seem to recall King's career ending in injury.
Other Cal scorers that year: Jack Yerman in the 400, Maynard Orme in the 800. Proverb Jacobs, who played a half-dozen years in the NFL, then later became "famous" as the coach of James Robinson, was a non-scoring 7th in the discus.
Seniors Don Bowden and Maynard Orme, along with sophomores Jerry Siebert and Jack Yerman,(all from Northern California high schools) set a world 2-mile relay record at the Texas Relays. I believe it was also at Texas that Bowden (880), Yerman (440), Orme (220), and sophomore Willie White(220)[father of Kelli] set a world record [world best?]in the sprint relay. Later that spring, senior Monte Upshaw [father of Grace]replaced Orme in a 220 leg, and Cal set another record in the sprint medley.
As J. Wetter notes, Upshaw won the Long Jump (breaking Jesse Owens' High School record) and split the hurdle races at the 1954 California State High School Meet at Berkeley, sharing the top two spots in each event with Rafer Johnson. Monte injured his knee shortly thereafter, and was limited primarily to sprint duties while at Cal.
As for 1956 Olympic 400R Gold Medal winner Leamon King, he unfortunately had an academic problem and did not compete in 1958.
Garry, I don't have the 1958 NCAA results available to me. Did 1960 Olympian Jerry Siebert score any points in the NCAA 880 that year?
It's possible that the progression of the Federation record went from Owens to Upshaw, but in T&FN's timeline there was somebody in between (did we discuss this on the board earlier?). He was the first HS 25-footer. Who was he? (He also had one of the most shocking performances in Olympic history.)
In an exchange discussing "Cal Bear Legacies", I didn't intend to stir up this previously discussed controversy about the evolution of the high school long jump record. To set the record straight --
In his website, "Conning Tower," high school T&F expert Keith Connings has listed Jesse Owens as having jumped 24-11 1/4 while at East Technical HS, Cleveland, Ohio, on June 3, 1933. On May 29, 1954, Monte Upshaw,while competing for Piedmont HS, jumped 25-4 1/4 at the California State HS Meet, held at Cal's Edwards Stadium. Upshaw's mark was officially accepted as the new mark. (Conning, 3-2-02)
There WAS an intervening jump, however, -- by George Brown of Jefferson High School, Los Angeles, of 25-2 1/2 against Huntington Park of LA on April 1, 1949 -- in a dual meet! In a January 10, 2003 column, however,Conning explained that marks set in dual meets are not acceptable as national interscholastic records.
So, to be precise, I should have said Monte Upshaw broke the "officially recognized" high school LJ record, set by Owens some 21 years previously. In a list of overall "best marks," it is probably appropriate to include Brown's 1949 jump, as well.
While we are talking about Upshaw offspring, [which we were, in the original message, above]another of Monte's daughters, Joy Upshaw Margerum, an assistant coach at Cal, still competes at the Masters level and is scheduled to compete in the upcoming US Masters championships at Eugene. And, to throw a few bones to Cal's friendly rivals down the peninsula, Joy is married to Stanford's great hurdler/football player, Ken Margerum. Finally, our national champ, Grace, while a Cal grad, is currently coached by Stanford's new head women's coach, Edrick Floreal.
Hope all of the above helps to clarify the record, and is accepted in the non-partisan way in which it is intended.
In his website, "Conning Tower,"
>high school T&F expert Keith Connings has listed
>Jesse Owens as having jumped 24-11 1/4 while at
>East Technical HS, Cleveland, Ohio, on June 3,
>1933. On May 29, 1954, Monte Upshaw,while
>competing for Piedmont HS, jumped 25-4 1/4 at the
>California State HS Meet, held at Cal's Edwards
>Stadium. Upshaw's mark was officially accepted as
>the new mark. (Conning, 3-2-02)
There WAS an
>intervening jump, however, -- by George Brown of
>Jefferson High School, Los Angeles, of 25-2 1/2
>against Huntington Park of LA on April 1, 1949 --
>in a dual meet! In a January 10, 2003 column,
>however,Conning explained that marks set in dual
>meets are not acceptable as national
So, to be precise, I
>should have said Monte Upshaw broke the
>"officially recognized" high school LJ record,
>set by Owens some 21 years previously. In a list
>of overall "best marks," it is probably
>appropriate to include Brown's 1949 jump, as
With all due deference to Keith, who is a track expert of the first order, the Federation lost any credibility with real track fans many decades ago, which is what led T&FN to create the first comprehensive, all-inclusive set of prep records. If Keith doesn't want to accept marks made in dual meets, that's his perogative, but we're snotty enough to believe that the list of "official" prep records is those kept by T&FN, period.
I have been doing some research on Leamon King for a Friends of Cal track newletter and thought you people on this board might enjoy reading it..
Remembering Leamon King
b.2-13-36 d. 5-21-01
Leamon King was born February 13, 1936 and grew up in the Central Valley town of Delano. On May 23, 1953 in Tulare, he won the Central Section 220 in 20.5, two tenths under Jessie Owens’ national high school record. The record was not ratified because there was no wind gauge, but Leamon went on to win the state meet and accepted a scholarship to Cal.
In his junior year, Leamon made All American by placing 3rd in the 100 at the NCAA’s. At the 1956 US Olympic Trials in Los Angeles, he qualified through the early rounds but was up all night before the finals with food poisoning. Teammate Joe Griffin went to his room, told him “You don’t get many chances in life to make an Olympics” and dragged Leamon out of bed and to the start line. He finished fourth, one place short of the team in the 100, but he had qualified as an Olympian in the 400 relay.
The Melbourne Games were held in November, springtime in Australia, so Leamon and Cal’s other Olympic qualifiers, Lon Spurrier and Don Bowden worked out at Edwards Stadium all summer before heading down to LA in September for a training camp and a series of pre-Olympic events. Leamon got into the best shape of his life and was immediately trouncing the other US sprinters in workouts. In the team’s first competition, in late September, Leamon tied the world record with a 9.3 for 100 yards. On Oct. 20, he equaled the world record for the 100 meters with a 10.1. Trials winner Bobby Morrow was second in 10.4. One week later, on Oct. 27, Leamon again ran a legal 10.1, leaving the other US sprinters in the dust. He was the only runner of his era to run two legal 10.1’s. It should be noted that all of these times were run on dirt tracks in leather spikes.
When the athletes got to Australia, they were told there would be a final pre-Olympic meet in Bendigo, just outside Melbourne, one week before the Games. When they arrived for the meet there was no track, just a cricket pitch with lane lines. Leamon was entered in the 100 yards, run on mowed grass down the middle of the pitch. He won the race by four yards with a world record tying 9.3. Leamon was undefeated in all the pre-Olympic races.
The coaches lobbied to put King in the 100 in the Games, but this was denied by the USOC and he watched from the stands as Bobby Morrow won the gold in 10.6. Leamon finally had his chance on the second leg of the 400 relay. In the finals, he took the baton and flew down the back straight with an awesome display of speed, putting the US five meters in the lead. For his 100 meter leg with a running start, he was unofficially clocked at 9.1 seconds. The US team won the gold in a world record, 39.5. Morrow also won the 200 to give him three gold medals and the lion’s share of the press. However, Morrow never broke 10.2 and there was little doubt among those who saw him run that in the autumn of 1956, the world’s fastest human was Leamon King!
A week after the games, at a meet on a grass track in Sydney, Leamon got another world record as the US team ran 1:23.8 in the 880 relay. He had set or tied 6 world records in less than 3 months.
Leamon returned to Cal in 1957 and was the conference champion and All American in the 100 and 220. He graduated from Cal, then got his teaching credential and returned to Delano where he and his wife Peggy Ann raised four children. Leamon taught junior high in Delano for 40 years and was known for helping underprivileged youth in the San Joaquin valley. When he retired in 2000, the sports facilities at a new junior high in Delano were named for him. He passed away in May, 2001, due to complications from diabetes.
As a non-stop editor, I can't help but read things without tweaking them (much to the chagrin of many a restaurant operator). So let me offer these "fixes" to your fine piece, in the spirit of historical accuracy, not be a pain in the ass know-it-all:
King was a real wunderkind.
1951--HS frosh 2nd in State 100, 1st in 200
1952--HS soph 2nd and 5th
1953--HS junior 1st and 1st
1954--HS senior 2nd and 2nd
So when he has his big Olympic year in '56 he's still just a soph, not a junior.
Willie Williams ran two legal 10.1s in August of '56, beating King to the punch.
King's "world record" 9.3 in September was actually an unofficial en route time in his October 20th 100m race.
As your fellow Bear Karl Uebel noted higher up, King lost his senior year to academic problems.
It was my impression at the time, just following things in the newspapers, without the Internet, without tv coverage of the relevant events, and without any inside information (I was just a kid), that if King had run the Olympic 100, he would have won it. He was clearly our best 100m guy at the time.
Dave Johnson wrote:
<Joe Wetter--any relation to Clyde Wetter
<(Grossmont HS '51), #2 on HS list that year at <58-4 7/8?
Answer: I don't know for sure. My dad, who played football & threw the discus as USC in the 20's, told me he thought that Clyde was the son of one of dad's cousins from the Redding, CA area. He wasn't sure though. Not too many people want to claim a last name like Wetter. It's kind of like having the last name of the star puter from Yale in the 50's, Jim Fuchs!
Another of dad's cousins, Spencer Boelter, had a son John who was a 60'+ H.S. shot puter for John Muir H.S., Pasasdena, CA, back in the 60's. Our family was long, lanky and strong. Unfortunately I only got the long & lanky part.
Incidentally, wasn't Clyde Wetter puting at UCLA with Don Vick back in the early 50's? If so, since I went to most of the USC-UCLA dual meets in those days I'm surprised I never met him.
Garry Hill wrote in response to earlier comments about Leamon King's career:
"King was a real wunderkind.
1951--HS frosh 2nd in State 100, 1st in 200
1952--HS soph 2nd and 5th
1953--HS junior 1st and 1st
1954--HS senior 2nd and 2nd
So when he has his big Olympic year in '56 he's still just a soph, not a junior."
Reply: Darn you Garry, you beat me to the punch. But I have a feeling you have a data base to back you up. I was going to reply from memory (I would have missed a couple of the above but knew he had won the 220 in his Freshman year (21.4 I believe) and Junior Year (wasn't that 21.1?) and 100 in Junior year (9.6, right?) Correct me if I'm wrong as my old memories are starting to fade.
I have almost all of the T&FNews issues from late 1959. I used to have T&F High School Annual from the mid 50's until mid 60's when a broken water pipe got them and the California H.S. State meet programs. The only thing salvaged were the T&F News which were on a high shelf.
So, Garry, what is your data base? Computer, T&F news or a photographic memory?
In the splenddid collection, "The Worlds of Brtus Hamilton," published in 1975 by tafnews, there are lovely letters to Upshaw's high-school coach, to Bowden and his parents, and to Leamon King on the occasion of his academic failings.
As I remember it, King also ran an age-15 best time in 1951 of 9.7.
In the Fresno Relays of 1956 King ran his first 9.3, and Mike Agostini wrote (in the December 1960 issue of "World Sports" magazine) that his finish was the fastest he'd ever seen. Agostini had been level with King at 60y and was in good shape (in March he'd run 9.3/20.1s helped by the starter using the wrong calibre of pistol for record purposes), but was blasted away by King's smooth finish.
It's doubtful that King would have beaten Morrow in Melbourne in 1956. He'd been well beaten (on his home track) by Morrow in the NCAA (when King was 3rd behind Sime)and that race like the '56 OG was run into a headwind. Morrow (a solid 173 on a 6'1 1/2" frame) was always stronger than King (6'0"/140) in those conditions. Morrow's OG winning time was 10.5 (rather than the 10.6 mentioned in the post), and was auto-timed in 10.65. From memory his margin of victory that day was 0.17 seconds. The race was on a loose track (which Andy Stanfield, runner-up in the 200 estimated was 0.2 slower than the Helsinki '52 track) and run into a 5.0 wind. The '56 final run on a fast track and with nil wind would have been won in around 10.25 seconds.
King ran a couple of 9.7s in 1951, the most notable at the State Meet where he lost the 100 by inches. His 220 victory in 21.4 made him the first ninth-grade champion in state history, and he was the first to medal in four different years.