the easy part first; Avant cleared 7 feet twice I believe in 1961, the second time to beat someone named John Thomas on fewer misses at the AAU nationals at Randall's Island in New York. ( I was there ! )
As to the first US caucasian to jump 7 feet, I am half guessing here ( my file of T&FN's is at home !) but I'll go with Joe Faust at the FOT in 1960.
several unofficial "first Caucasians over 7'"(Les Steers, Buddy Davis, Bill Stewart in unsanctioned meets, and Yuri Stepanov with illegal built-up shoe, '57) - actual first Caucasian 7'er would be Igor Kashkarov(7' 1/4, Aug. '57) Good trivia q - couldn't resist. (And I looked it up in old TFN annuals, not off top of my head, thank god)
Stepanov's 7' 1" ( 2.16 ) was not illegal, as a matter of fact I believe it got approved an an official WR. But they quickly made the built up shoe illegal, but not not retroactively.
A build up was still allowed, but only to a prescribed limit. I can remember owning a pair of Adidas High Jump shoes in the early 60's ( 2 spikes in heel ) where the shoe of the take off foot was built up to the legal limit, but the other shoe was not.
And I do believe that Stepanov's 2.16 came before Kashkarov's 2.14. What I do not know without checking is what height did Stepanov clear that same day before the 2.16. Something else for me to check when i get home unless someone beats me to it.
Big Fish wrote: "Who was it? Also did Bobby Avant of WS Hart High School and later USC ever clear 7'?'
Comment: Avant may not have been the first US Causcasian 7 foot jumper but he had to have the most unique style. One I never saw before nor have seen since. He basically dove over the bar with his hands thrown over first and his head and rest of body curling around the bar.
I was a jumper in some of the same meets in HS (nowhere near the caliber of this '57 State HS champ) and was amazed at how he could clear the bar at all with that style.
Although I don't recall playing basketball against him, when he was at Hart HS of Newhall the story went around in the SF Valley summer leagues that his spring was so weak he couldn't even stuff a basketball. He stood about 6'1" so he should have been able to do it. Don't know if the story is true but it sure was interesting to those of us stradlers that could stuff a ball.
I have often wondered why a front dive wouldn't be the most efficient method. You could have a lot of speed in the approach and you can certainly wrap yourself around the bar a lot more than back first. Biomechanics don't work out right?
Avant had a goofy style, that's for sure... fascinating, dramatic, scary and pretty much indescribable to anyone who did not see it in person. The only quality jumper I recall who was even similar was Max Lowe a few years later.
I'd guess that Avant was probably the second white American to clear seven feet in a legal, sanctioned meet; Faust was certainly the first with his second place finish to Thomas's WR at the 1960 OTs, jumping off the manicured grass apron at Stanford Stadium. Faust was a very young college freshman at the time. (Read about it in Archie's Little Black Book... my edition has Faust's complete age/jump progression by years, months and days!)
Everyone was suspicious of Russian claims until the stunning upset of Thomas, Dumas and Faust in Rome. I don't know where the early Russian seven-footers were born (with the exception of Brumel who hailed from Siberia) but most likely one of them is the real answer to the question since the old CCCP included the area of the Caucausus, and the specific query was about the first Caucasian jumper. (Is this a trick question?)
The most frustrated jumper of the era must have been Ernie Shelton, a USC athlete in the period immediately before Charles Dumas. Shelton jumped consistently in the 6'10"-6'11" range but could never crack the seven foot barrier.
Yes, it has to be Joe Faust.
When Stepanov did 2.16 the "shoe" was legal. His previous jump in the competition was 2.11 (under 7ft). Kashkarov did 2.14 in Aug '57. But does BFORSYTH know that he used a "normal" shoe? Why would he not use the same type of shoe that Stepanov used? Lots of those guys experimentet with built up shoes including Bengt Nilsson and Shelton.
To my mind Avant used the Dive Straddle with a bent lead-leg very much like the great Swede Nilsson who along with Shelton dominated the H.J. in '54 and '55
OK, so we've identified Faust and Avant as the first two in this demographic (white/American/7 foot high jumpers)... now who were the next ones to join the group? What was the sequence for, say, the first ten? Paul Stuber? Lew Hoyt? Did Bob Gardner ever clear 7 feet? When did Dobroth clear 7 feet for the first time? Max Lowe? Greg Heet? Ricky Sloan? Eddie Hanks? And who was the first non-American, non-Russian 7 footer? Maybe the Aussie, Lawrie Peckham?
Yeah, Steve, you are right, it makes no difference and I hope no one reading this thinks it does... it is just an anti-alzheimers mental exercise to recall these guys and then see who has the time and energy actually to look stuff up. In fact, very little that gets discussed on this site DOES make any difference, does it?
Thanks for setting me straight re Avant. I only saw him in photos in T&FN. I would ,however be thankful if you or others could tell me if Avant used a runup that was faster than what was common among U.S. jumpers of that era.
Per Andersen wrote
Thanks for setting me straight re Avant. I only saw him in photos in T&FN. I would ,however be thankful if you or others could tell me if Avant used a runup that was faster than what was common among U.S. jumpers of that era."
Comment: I'm the one who started the discussion about Avant's style. I can remember it as clear as day except for the one question as to speed. Remember I was competing against him (not very effectively, I'm afraid) over 45 years ago. At the time his speed seemed much faster than those of us that were stradling. We depended on a slower runup and explosion to our height. Especially Dumas. Avant didn't. But in thinking about the speed he approached the bar in comparison to later jumpers like Brumel and the more recent floppers that followed I don't think he really was that much faster in his approach to the bar. But again that's the fuzzy part of 45 years talking.
Comment: I'm the one
>who started the discussion about Avant's style. I
>can remember it as clear as day except for the
>one question as to speed. Remember I was
>competing against him (not very effectively, I'm
>afraid) over 45 years ago. At the time his speed
>seemed much faster than those of us that were
>stradling. We depended on a slower runup and
>explosion to our height. Especially Dumas. Avant
>didn't. But in thinking about the speed he
>approached the bar in comparison to later jumpers
>like Brumel and the more recent floppers that
>followed I don't think he really was that much
>faster in his approach to the bar. But again
>that's the fuzzy part of 45 years talking.
I also saw Bobby Avant jump many times. His style was really strange, as described in this thread. However, I don't recall that his runup was unusually fast. Perhaps a little faster than the loping straddlers like Thomas and Dumas, but not a lot faster certainly. Actually, Joe Faust was a little faster in his runup than Dumas. He was very strong and could convert a little more speed. He felt it was an advantage, but never pushed it to a really fast runup, which probably would not have worked too well.
Interesting to see the mentions of Joe Faust in this thread. He was a close personal friend of mine in 1961-62. He was a very unusual guy. He vacillated between wanting to be a monk -- he spent time in a monastery during the 1961 season -- and going out with the homecoming queen from Mt. Sac. We used to drive down to the beach together a lot from Claremont, where we lived. Riding in a car with Joe driving was quite a terrifying experience. He loved to talk, and talked constantly during the drive, and he had the habit of always looking at you when he talked to you. So he was driving most of the time without looking at the road. I was always interjecting with, "Joe, watch where you're going" and pointing out the windshield to where I though he should be looking. But it was just as bad when he wasn't talking, because he would read a book while he was driving. He would put the book on his lap and read as he drove. Mostly looking at the book and only occasionally looking up to see where he was driving. It was totally nerve-wracking.
My memory is that Avant had a faster than average run up and ran almost straight at the bar. Because his clearance involved a head first, diving belly roll, his lead leg had to come up very quickly toward his chest on take off. He converted horizontal force into lift efficiently, in contrast to power straddlers like Thomas. I don't know that Avant ran a lot faster than other jumpers but I bet he left the ground a lot faster on the last step. Thomas spent a very long time in a power position on take off waiting to complete the long arc of his straight kick leg to put his right foot way up overhead. Faust also used a straight kick-leg straddle style but was way quicker about it than Thomas or Dumas. Brumel was more of a diver and made most other straddle jumpers look like they were moving in slow motion. To my feeble mind, Avant was doing what fast, modern floppers do: using a quick bent-leg take off to maintain speed throughout the take off phase of the jump and convert lots of energy into vertical lift.
Re Joe Faust: He is still an interesting character. He has a sort of disorienting website (google High Jumping World and you'll find it) that is always being put together and, just when it gets to have a lot of material, Joe trashes it all and starts all over again.
So would you guys happen to know if Joe Faust is the character Joe or Joey Rosenberg in Jack Kerouac's book "Big Sur" from 1961. Kerouac described him as a sort of beat- Jesus who had been the California High School H.J. champ at 6'9" + he had long hair like Raul Castro!
Anyway I was lucky enough to see Shelton and the dive straddler Nilsson during the summer of '54 in one of their attacks on 7ft. Nilsson definitely ran much faster than Shelton but I was too young to appreciate the significance and always tried to copy Shelton's technique in my own jumping.
Pers, I never saw Faust with long hair, it was always close cropped, but he does seem to be very ardent, mystically oriented Catholic. Printed media in the early '60's said that he had spent time in a monastery in Northern California. That would have been about the time Kerouac was being published. I guess only Joe knows.