High School Mile Record Holders since 1930


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High School Mile Record Holders since 1930

Postby Ratpup » Sat Jul 01, 2006 12:06 am

The recent excellent article on Dale Story who is described as a former HS mile record holder got me interested in who were some of the previous HS record holders say from about 1930 on. I don't have exact times, but I'm pretty sure that pre-Ryun the following guys were record holders:

Glen Cunningham, Dale Story, Archie San Romani, and Dyrol Burleson. I wonder if anyone has any information that they could fill in on this.
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Postby ed gee » Sat Jul 01, 2006 8:49 am

Tom Sullivan from ILran 4;03+ and held the HSR in the early sixties. Used to train with Tom O'Hara.
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Postby EPelle » Sat Jul 01, 2006 8:51 am

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Postby EPelle » Sat Jul 01, 2006 8:54 am

    4.21,2? Lou Zamperini Torence HS. CA ???
    4.20,4 Chesley Unruh El Monte, Ca 1925
    4.20,0 Carl Joyce Commerce, Boston 1947
    4.17,8 Deacon Jones Boys Town, Neb 1954
    4.16,1 Jim Bowers DeKalb, Ill 1956
    4.12,2 Dyrol Burleson (Cottage Grove, Or) 1958
    4.11,0 Dale Story (Orange, Ca) 1959
    4.08,9 Archie San Romani Jr. East Wichita 1959 (Jim Ryun:s HS)
    4.03,5 Tom Sullivan (St. George, Evanston, Il) -->Villanova 1961
    3.59,0 Jim Ryun East Wichita, KS 1964
    3.55,3 Jim Ryun East Wichita, KS 6-27-1965
Same source. This is Walt Murphy territory.

There is a question on Zamperini, but an article (below) lists this time as his PB (and record). He won the 1934 CIF CA State Meet by 0,02 over his comp in 4.27,8. Here is a good story on Zamperini: http://www.runningtimes.com/rt/articles/?id=5513

Rarely, in those days, did cross country runners train before the start of school in September, but Zamperini trained the whole summer and ran away from his competition, including the varsity runners, in the first cross country meet of the year, covering a two-mile course in 9:57. He would go undefeated for the three remaining years of his high school career. In 1934, his junior year at Torrance High, he broke the national high school mile record of 4:23.6, which had stood for 18 years, with a 4:21.2. That record would stand until 1953.

That "stand until 1953" seems off, as this list has athletes running faster than 4.21 in 1947 (and the 4.20 ahead of it in the 20:s).
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Postby dukehjsteve » Sat Jul 01, 2006 1:51 pm

Burleson also had an earlier 4:13.2 the same year he ran the 4:12.2.
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Postby Master Po » Sun Jul 02, 2006 6:37 am

One thing I appreciate about the historical part of this forum is finding out about athletes before my time (here, way before my time), eg Lou Zamperini.

Check out this article about him in a USC alumni magazine:

http://www.usc.edu/dept/pubrel/trojan_f ... erini.html

This article, in addition to recounting his military exploits, OG experience, and other stuff, reports his best HS mile:

"as a junior in 1934, he was invited to run against Pacific Coast college champions in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Zamperini blew the competition away, setting a new interscholastic mile world record of 4:21.20 (it stood for 20 years) and winning by 25 yards."

(Thus, this article is not aware of a faster time run earlier by Chesley Unruh.)
Last edited by Master Po on Sun Jul 02, 2006 6:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Master Po » Sun Jul 02, 2006 6:46 am

I'm now really curious about the 1925 mile time of 4:20.0 for Chesley Unruh that mentioned earlier in this thread and is included on this list, (and I am interested to know more about Unruh):

http://www.cs.uml.edu/~phoffman/nats/mileprog.htm


The only mention I have of him -- though my access to sources is very limited -- is this:

Highlights of the California State HS track meet
http://www.lhs.fuhsd.org/ATHLETICS/TRAC ... s.htm#1925

which reports Unruh as winning the mile in 1925 in a time of 4:35.2

Anyone out there with information on CA HS t&f and/or this era of US miling know anything else about Unruh? (I think his dob was 10-20-1906.)

Also, anyone know anything more about the reference (quoted by ePelle above, from a RT article) to a HS 4:23.6 mile run in (let's see if I can do the math ... 18 years before 1934) 1916?
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Postby tandfman » Sun Jul 02, 2006 12:27 pm

Master Po wrote:I'm now really curious about the 1925 mile time of 4:20.0 for Chesley Unruh that mentioned earlier in this thread and is included on this list, (and I am interested to know more about Unruh)

And I am curious to know whether he might be any relation to Jesse Unruh, the California politician.
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Postby GeoffPietsch » Sun Jul 02, 2006 4:30 pm

My strong recollection is that the high school record in the early '50s - after Carl Joyce, I guess, and before Deacon Jones - was 4:19.5. The name that comes to mind is Tom Skutka (something like that) I think from New Jersey. Does that name and/or time ring a bell with anyone?
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Postby GeoffPietsch » Sun Jul 02, 2006 4:37 pm

Looks like I should Google first and post after. My memory was right that Tom Skutka ran 4:19.5, and the website I went to says it was the National Record at the time. But since he did it in 1955, I wonder why they - and I - hadn't heard of Deacon Jones's 4:17.8. I'm guessing that the national federation didn't recognize Jones's mark for some reason. Am I close?
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Postby dukehjsteve » Sun Jul 02, 2006 6:17 pm

Don't forget that the "official" HS records are often radically different than the ones we talk about. Official records have to be set in an all HS meet, and I believe with at least 4 schools competing or something like that.
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Postby James Fields » Sun Jul 02, 2006 8:03 pm

Geoff Pietsch wrote:
My strong recollection is that the high school record in the early '50s - after Carl Joyce, I guess, and before Deacon Jones - was 4:19.5.
--------
Maybe some participant in this thread can recall another Oregon schoolboy named (Ralph?) Strait who ran 4:20.4 before Dyrol Burleson came on stage and perhaps 4:16/4:17 range later in the season.

Of course, given the passing of 50 years, I may just be having a senior moment. I'm now thousands of miles removed from my home library and files to verify the above.
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Postby dj » Mon Jul 03, 2006 6:31 am

This sounds like a fun Independence Day project. I'll try to come up with various record progressions.

I say various because there are several aspects to consider: the best legal mark regardless of competition; best marks regardless of scholastic standing (there are instances in which some prep school students even in a 5th year of schooling were younger than their fourth-year high school counterparts); winning marks only regardless of competition; winning times in high-school-only competition regardless of sanction status (what the NFSHSAA could accept); the NFSHSAA record progression (state association member schools only).

If memory serves, the Unruh mark is a non-winning mark in the Southern Pacific AAU championships. As noted, the Zamperini mark was a winning time, but in an open meet. The Deacon Jones mark (1955?) was a non-winning time from the national AAU championships.
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Postby ppalmer » Mon Jul 03, 2006 11:25 am

GeoffPietsch wrote:Looks like I should Google first and post after. My memory was right that Tom Skutka ran 4:19.5, and the website I went to says it was the National Record at the time. But since he did it in 1955, I wonder why they - and I - hadn't heard of Deacon Jones's 4:17.8. I'm guessing that the national federation didn't recognize Jones's mark for some reason. Am I close?


I heard Deacon talk about that a year or so ago. I think he beat Max Truex in that race, so it must have been some kind of after the school year thing (of which there were not many then). I will ask him when I get a chance.

Pat Palmer
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Postby kuha » Mon Jul 03, 2006 11:34 am

"If memory serves, the Unruh mark is a non-winning mark in the Southern Pacific AAU championships. As noted, the Zamperini mark was a winning time, but in an open meet. The Deacon Jones mark (1955?) was a non-winning time from the national AAU championships."

Once again, I'm in awe of what dj can pull out of his head... wow...
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Postby dj » Wed Jul 05, 2006 5:43 am

Not so quick there, Khua. I was right about the Unruh and Jones marks, but the Zamperini 4:21.2 in '34 was set while winning the California Southern Sectional meet and was eventually ratified by the National Federation as an HSR.

I'll start posting record progs with varying criteria later this morning.
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Postby dj » Wed Jul 05, 2006 7:04 am

Ready to get thoroughly confused?

Here we go, starting with the record progression of the one "governing" body for high school track, the NFSHSAA (National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations: I've used an old version of severdal different names the national federation has gone by as it's the most descriptive for our purposes).

The Federation was formed in/around 1925, not as an overarching governing body but as a unifying force for the various state associations, all of which maintained a great deal of autonomy (and do to this day.) The first record accepted by the NF was taken from the list published annually by the AAU in their Spalding Guides.

The NF progression (as best I can make it out):
4:23 3/5, Eddie Shields, Mercersburg Academy (M’burg, Pa), 5/20/16
4:24.7, Glenn Cunningham, Elkhart (Ks), 5/31/30
4:23.6, Ray Trail, Mont Pleasant (Schenectady, NY), ?/?/36
4:21.2, Lou Zamperini, Torrance (Ca), 5/19/34 (!)
4:21.0, Bob Seaman, Reedley (Ca), 5/29/53
4:20.4, Max Truex, Warsaw (In), 5/22/54
4:19.5, Tom Skutka, Morris Hills (Rockaway, NJ), 6/4/55
4:16.1, Jim Bowers, DeKalb (Il), 5/25/56
4:13.2, Dyrol Burleson, Cottage Grove (Or), 4/25/58
4:11.0, Dale Story, Orange (Ca), 5/29/59
4:08.7, Dennis Carr, Lowell (Whittier, Ca), 6/2/62
4:06.0, Gerry Lindgren, Rogers (Spokane, Wa), 5/23/64
3:58.3, Jim Ryun, East (Wichita, Ks), 5/15/65

Okay, before you start screaming what-happened-to-so-and-so, here are a few notes. Federation rules required that marks be made by state association members, in meets with more than four schools, member schools only participating in the event (i.e., eligible for state association sanction), winning times only (seldom did non-winning times have the requisite three watches).

All that said, the NF got off on the wrong foot with its first record, the Shields' 4:23 3/5. Shields attended a non-member school, and was too old by standards then in place, being 21 at the time.

In 1935, the NF tried to fix the problem, and fouled it up some more. In going back, they came up with the Cunningham 4:24.7 (Kansas was more generous than most states, allowing 20-year-olds - as Cunningham was - to participtate.) But what they had missed (or had yet to receive application for) was the Zamperini 4:21.2 in '34.

But the NF plugged on. The Trail 4:23.6 was ratified (I've never found where or when this was run), but that meant they had missed a 4:23.4 for John Woodruff (Connellsville, Pa) in 1934 that could have been accepted. Nor did the accept a 4:24.2 for 20-year-old Virgil Hooper (Antelope Valley, Lancaster, Ca) ran three weeks before Woodruff's mark.

The NF finally got it right when they accepted the Zamperini mark. From then on, they had the progression right (under their rules) with the exception that the only published records would be the best for a given year, i.e., no superseded records were ever listed as being credited. This denied recognition to the following marks:
4:20.0, Tod White, Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Ca), 5/28/55
4:06.4, Jim Ryun, East (Wichita, Ks), 5/16/64
4:04.4, Ryun, 3/30/65
4:02.0, Ryun 4/23/65

The other mark they could have accepted (I don't know exactly what rule might have precluded acceptance, or perhaps it was accepted and I'm unaware of it) was a 4:10.0 for Morgan Groth (Alhambra, Martinez, Ca) at the Golden West Invitational, 6/17/61. It may be that the meet was not sanctioned, I don't know.

That's it for the first installment.
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Postby G.Ahearn » Wed Jul 05, 2006 11:59 am

A hall of fame post, dj! Thanks a lot. Looking forward to the next installment.
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Postby dj » Thu Jul 06, 2006 6:39 am

Installment #2.

I don’t know who first began compiling a large set of high school marks and records through the years, i.e. an all-time list, but the first published list of which I’m aware appeared in the first edition of “High School Track,” authored by Dick Bank and published by T&FN in 1956. In the early years, Bank, Hugh Gardner and Fran Errota were responsible for much of the work, and Jack Shepard took it on in the mid-1960’s. (Jack also created a record progression for all HS events that was published in FASTracks in the late-’80.)

After the first two or three years of HST, the frustration level with the National Federation’s lists and records had reached the point that HST published its own records. (This was a time when many major city public and parochial leagues were not members of their state associations.) The HST records differed with the NF in that all schools were eligible (not just state association members), but HST maintained the basic tenet of requiring that marks be made in interscholastic events: high school and prep school, but excluding post grads from consideration.

Using these rules, here is the record progression, starting with the Shields 4:23 3/5 from 1916. This is essentially a simple melding of the NF progression with the same-season unratified marks and correcting the problems following the NF deletion of the Shields mark.


4:23 3/5, Eddie Shields, Mercersburg Academy (M’burg, Pa), 5/20/16
4:22.2, Bill Cox, Rochester Shop School (Rochester, NY), 6/6/25
4:21.2, Lou Zamperini, Torrance (Ca), 5/19/34
4:21.0, Bob Seaman, Reedley (Ca), 5/29/53
4:20.4, Max Truex, Warsaw (In), 5/22/54
4:20.0, Tod White, Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Ca), 5/28/55
4:19.5, Tom Skutka, Morris Hills (Rockaway, NJ), 6/4/55
4:16.1, Jim Bowers, DeKalb (Il), 5/25/56
4:13.2, Dyrol Burleson, Cottage Grove (Or), 4/25/58
4:11.0, Dale Story, Orange (Ca), 5/29/59
4:10.0, Morgan Groth, Alhambra (Martinez, Ca), 6/17/61
4:08.7, Dennis Carr, Lowell (Whittier, Ca), 6/2/62
4:06.4, Jim Ryun, East (Wichita, Ks), 5/16/64
4:06.0, Gerry Lindgren, Rogers (Spokane, Wa), 5/23/64
4:04.4, Ryun, 3/30/65
4:02.0, Ryun 4/23/65
3:58.3, Jim Ryun, East (Wichita, Ks), 5/15/65


At some point in the ‘60s, T&FN adopted a policy which deleted athletes over age 20, included non-winning marks and marks made in open competition, and concluded eligibility on Aug. 31 following the athlete’s senior year. Here is that record progression (as best I can figure), beginning with the first mark that would have been accepted at the time of the formation of the National Federation:

4:24 3/5, Joe Ballard, Providence Tech (RI), 8/13/09
4:20.4, Chesley Unruh, El Monte (Ca), 5/16/25
4:20.0, Carl Joyce, Commerce (Boston, Ma), 6/28/47
4:17.8, Deacon Jones, Boys’ Town (Nb), 6/18/54
4:16.1, Jim Bowers, DeKalb (Il), 5/25/56
4:13.2, Dyrol Burleson, Cottage Grove (Or), 4/25/58
4:12.2, Dyrol Burleson, Cottage Grove (Or), 6/20/58
4:10.0, Archie San Romani, East (Wichita, Ks), 5/23/59
4:08.9, Archie San Romani, East (Wichita, Ks), 6/5/59
4:03.5, Tom Sullivan, St. George (Evanston, Il), 6/2/61
4:01.7, Jim Ryun, East (Wichita, Ks), 5/23/64
3:59.0, Ryun, 6/5/64
3:58.3, Ryun, 5/15/65
3:58.1, Ryun, 5/29/65
3:56.8, Ryun, 6/4/65
3:55.3, Ryun, 6/27/65
3:53.43, Alan Webb, South Lakes (Reston, Va), 5/27/01

Those are three progressions set up with different working rules by the only groups that have offered an "authoritative" set of national records. You can see how much the lists diverge and how much confusion is created when a newspaper writer refers to so-and-so setting thus-and-such record.

This should be the end of the discussion, right? Not really. In the next (last?!) installment, I'll put forward several marks you might have heard of which deserve discussion, and show how they would fit into the progression and which marks they would supplant.
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Postby Ratpup » Thu Jul 06, 2006 11:47 am

Thanks for all of this great information. I'm more confused than I was when I posed the question! Nonetheless, what is fun about looking at progression lists (as opposed to all time lists) is that some of us who had a bit of success in high school (4:19.26 for me) enjoy looking at the lists and trying to figure out when was the last time that we would have been the national high school record holder. Unfortunately for me, it was 1953, a few years before I was even born.

Of course, comparing times across generations is especially difficult. My high school track was cinder and the fastest that I ever ran on one of those was about 4:30. I can't even imagine running a 3:55.3 on a cinder track.
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Postby dj » Thu Jul 06, 2006 11:56 am

I'll confuse the issue a little more tomorrow.

And no worries about running 3:55.3 on cinders. That mark for Ryun was made on a synthetic surface while winning the AAU in '65, the same meet as the Billy Mills-Gerry Lindgren dual in which they ran 27:11.6y WR.
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Postby Ratpup » Thu Jul 06, 2006 12:05 pm

That's a relief. I'm much less impressed by a 3:58.3 or a 3:59.0 as a junior!
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Postby bad hammy » Thu Jul 06, 2006 1:15 pm

Ratpup wrote:That's a relief. I'm much less impressed by a 3:58.3 or a 3:59.0 as a junior!

But, as I recall (and I could be wrong on any and all of these points) the 3:58.3 was in an all-HS meet (Kansas State Meet), with second place around 4:20, and I would bet some small change that it was on cinders.
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Postby G.Ahearn » Thu Jul 06, 2006 2:13 pm

And then there is Ryun's 3:39.0 1500m (3:56.0 mile equivalent) his junior year in HS.
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Postby G.Ahearn » Thu Jul 06, 2006 3:51 pm

Bill Cox also had the HS two mile record-- 9:44.3 (1925).
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Postby dukehjsteve » Thu Jul 06, 2006 4:19 pm

dj wrote:I'll confuse the issue a little more tomorrow.

And no worries about running 3:55.3 on cinders. That mark for Ryun was made on a synthetic surface while winning the AAU in '65, the same meet as the Billy Mills-Gerry Lindgren dual in which they ran 27:11.6y WR.


Old news to most of those reading all this, but what's so amazing to me is that Ryun's 3:55.3 did 2 things:
1. Beat a guy called Peter Snell, merely double OG champ a year earlier.
2. Was an US National Record.

Can you imagine ANY high school kid today, in ANY event, setting a USNR ?!
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Postby gh » Thu Jul 06, 2006 4:30 pm

dukehjsteve wrote:Can you imagine ANY high school kid today, in ANY event, setting a USNR ?!


No, but I also can't imagine the Olympic decathlon champ playing/starring in the NFL (Jim THorpe) or the Oly decathlon champ also winning the HJ (Osborne), or somebody scoring in the NCAA in the 110H/SP/DT (Mathias).

Taking absolutely nothing away from Ryun (he still wins the all-time mythical mile for me), but in an era of professionalization and specialization, some feats of the past will never be duplicated simply because the circumstances have changed so greatly.
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