Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?


Forum devoted to track & field items of an historical nature.

Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby JumboElliott » Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:33 pm

I was just doing some research, and I didn't realize that the 1957 Villanova track team had three (!) :shock: individual Olympic Gold Medalists and five total Olympians in five different events out of only 15 men on the team. I knew that they won a national championship, but I didn't realize that Don Bragg overlapped with Ronnie Delany and Charlie Jenkins.

Obviously I could be missing something, but any discussion of the greatest collegiate track team in history has to start with that team.

Maybe someone with a greater grasp of the history of collegiate T&F could tell me how wrong I am.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby preston » Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:59 pm

I'm just guessing but I have to think that Bud Winters San Jose State teams were pretty good. Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Lee Evans, Ronny Ray Smith. (was Christos Papanikolaou part of the '68 team?)
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby JumboElliott » Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:03 pm

That was really the only one I could think of, and even then that's only (as if only applies here) two individual gold medals.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby Grasshopper » Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:40 pm

I think the 1988 UCLA team included Kevin Young, Danny Everett, Steve Lewis, and Mike Marsh, all of whom were eventual individual and/or relay gold medallists (and WR holders). Long jump WR-holder Mike Powell graduated from UCLA only 2 seasons prior.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby JumboElliott » Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:57 pm

I guess the argument could also be made that that the Olympics weren't as big back in 56 as they were even 12 years later.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby gh » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:26 pm

all depends on how you define "team": the '57 Villanova squad had a good collection of high-enders, but would have been eaten alive in a dual meet by a dozen or more teams in the country.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby JumboElliott » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:56 pm

But wouldn't that be a consequence of their forced lack of depth?
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby 26mi235 » Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:35 pm

Yes it is by their (forced) lack of depth, but is still does not make the team the best ever.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby Grasshopper » Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:49 pm

I guess it also needs to be clarified what type or level of team we're talking about. Sometimes the best dual meet teams aren't nearly as competitive on the conference or national level, and visa versa, the best national-level teams aren't as good in a dual meet or conference champs.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby gibson » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:04 am

while i was at oregon, i recall the following guys were on the team around 1979-82

billy mcchesney - oly team, school records, world top 10
alberto salazar - oly team, american records, wr marathon, etc.
rudy chapa- ncaa champ, pac-10 800m champ, american hs 10k record, etc.
ken martin- steeple top 3 america, 210 marathon, etc.
don clary- beat the washington state world beating africans from time to time, top 10 american
art borleau - won la marathon and 2 mercedes benz 2x, 211 marathon, 10th world champs.
david mack - 143 800m
jaquim cruz - 141 800m, ncaa titles, oly gold and silver

other guys - 400m guy who ran 46 flat, i think the 100m guy was top 5 in the country ncaa, and the pole vault guy went 18.2 if i recall correctly.


and there were others...
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby Bruce Kritzler » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:11 am

Oregon team with Otis Davis, Harry Jerome, and Bill Dellinger has more medals.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby lilwayne1814 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:47 am

I would include TSU with the Tigerbelles (Wilma Rudolph, Edith McGuire, etc.) along with Ralph Boston
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby Dave » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:30 pm

Another interesting measure might be the greatest winning margin at the NCAAs. That goes some way toward addressing depth and quality.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby gh » Fri Jun 15, 2012 3:04 pm

Bruce Kritzler wrote:Oregon team with Otis Davis, Harry Jerome, and Bill Dellinger has more medals.


not quite!

Dellinger was 1953–56

Davis was 1956–59

Jerome was 1960–62, 64

and with frosh not eligible in those days, means that while Dellinger and Davis overlapped by a year, technically they weren't even on the same team. And as I recall, Davis didn't turn out for track until his junior year, was a hoopster before that.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby LopenUupunut » Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:51 pm

Stanford's team from the late twenties and early thirties has to be up there...

Eric Krenz (WRs in discus, first man over 50m, 4th in Oly SP)
Ben Eastman (WRs in both 400 and 800 and Oly silver in 400)
Bob King (Oly gold in HJ)
Ward Edmonds (no Oly medals but one of the absolute top PVers in the world in the late 20ies)
Hec Dyer (Oly gold in 4x100)
Bill Miller (Oly gold in PV)
Harlow Rothert (Oly silver in SP)
Bud Spencer (WR in 400 and Oly gold in relay)
Henri LaBorde (Oly silver in DT)
John Lyman (WRs in shot put)

They didn't all overlap, but it was pretty close :shock:
Last edited by LopenUupunut on Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby slowcat » Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:58 pm

Oregon 1962, UCLA 1966
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby dj » Sat Jun 16, 2012 5:11 pm

I've given the varsity years in which they were at all prominent for each of the Stanford athletes LopenUupunut listed. Immediately below is a chart showing that the 1928 team had five of the athletes listed: Bud Spender 400, Bob King HJ, Ward Edmonds PV, Eric Krenz and Harlow Rothert in the SP and DT.

1926 1
1927 123
1928 12345
1929 1234
1930 123
1931 12
1932 1234
1933 1234
1934 1

"by LopenUupunut » 16 Jun 2012 14:51

Stanford's team from the late twenties and early thirties has to be up there...

Eric Krenz (WRs in discus, first man over 50m, 4th in Oly SP) 28-29-30
Ben Eastman (WRs in both 400 and 800 and Oly silver in 400) 31-32-33
Bob King (Oly gold in HJ) 26-27-28
Ward Edmonds (no Oly medals but one of the absolute top PVers in the world in the late 20ies) 27-28-29
Hec Dyer (Oly gold in 4x100) 29-30
Bill Miller (Oly gold in PV) 32-33
Harlow Rothert (Oly silver in SP) 28-29-30
Bud Spencer (WR in 400 and Oly gold in relay) 27-28
Henri LaBorde (Oly silver in DT) 31-32-33
John Lyman (WRs in shot put) 32-33-34

They didn't all overlap, but it was pretty close"
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby LopenUupunut » Sun Jun 17, 2012 7:28 am

Thanks dj :) I'll nominate Stanford's 1928 team, then.

Just looked up the NCAA final standings that year...
1. Stanford - 72 points
2. Illinois - 30¾ points
3. Ohio State - 30 points
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby dj » Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:30 am

LopenUupunut wrote:Thanks dj :) I'll nominate Stanford's 1928 team, then.

Just looked up the NCAA final standings that year...
1. Stanford - 72 points
2. Illinois - 30¾ points
3. Ohio State - 30 points


Stanford also won the IC4A two weeks earlier . . .
1. Stanford 43
2. Yale 25 1/3
3. Penn State & Cornell 16

Another major player on that team was hurdler Ross Nichols.
Scoring for the NCAA was 10-8-6-4-2-1, for the IC4A 5-4-3-2-1.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby dukehjsteve » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:15 am

Certainly no great "team", but Indiana University had 2 goldies in 1956 with Milt Campbell and Greg Bell.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby bcwarp » Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:43 pm

How about adding women to this thread. Wilma Rudolph won the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay at the 1960 Olympics. All 4 women on that relay were Tigerbelles. (Hudson, Williams, Jones, Rudolph)
By the time Wilma enrolled at Tennessee State in the fall of 1958, Coach Temple and the Tigerbelles were on top of the track and field world. In 1957, at the AAU outdoor nationals, six Tigerbelles ran against each other in the finals of the 200-meter race. The next year, there were 10 Tigerbelles on scholarship, and all 10 qualified for the Pan-American Games team.
Other teammates : Margaret Mathews, Willye White (5 Olympics, world record LJ for 16 years) Annie Lois Smith, and Isabelle Daniels)
I'm not sure there was NCAA track for women at that time, but if there had been......
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby gibson » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:31 am

Bruce Kritzler wrote:Oregon team with Otis Davis, Harry Jerome, and Bill Dellinger has more medals.


good point. bill dellinger and the oregon meat grinder milked the guys to the max, leaving nothing for the prime years.
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby gh » Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:26 pm

as noted in an earlier response, none of those three were ever on the team together
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Re: Greatest Collegiate Track & Field Team Ever?

Postby dr ngo » Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:16 pm

I don't have the details (though there's a lot on their website http://www.usctrackandfield.com/USCAll-Americanlist.pdf), but the USC teams of the early 1950s were notoriously strong, winning everything in sight for years: duals, Pacific Coast Conference (as it was then), and the NCAA often as not. Headed by Olympic gold medallists Parry O'Brien (SP) and Sim Iness (DT), with dual silver medallist Jack Davis in the hurdles, Ernie Shelton in the HJ (who rivalled Dumas in the race to 7'), Jim Lea and later Mike Larrabee in the 400, additional hurdlers Dick Attlesey and Art Barnard (Olympic bronze), additional discus thrower - and punter on the FB team! - Desmond Koch (Olympic bronze), etc. Formidable! Later would come Max Truex, Dallas Long, Rink Babka, and Dumas himself, who transferred in). I'm not sure who was on the team in which year, but I know 1953 saw O'Brien, Iness, Davis, Lea, and Shelton at the core . . .

(And I say this as a lifelong UCLA fan, whose childhood was seriously scarred by perpetual losses to this juggernaut.)
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