Tracy Smith


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Tracy Smith

Postby Master Po » Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:32 am

While recently browsing TFN's US & world all-time rankings, I encountered this guy -- Tracy Smith -- prominently on the US lists in the mid-late 60s-early 70s era. I wasn't around then, but I have tried to read the history of that era, and somehow I had never heard of him.

That period -- from Tokyo to Munich was a good one for US distance runners: For instance, off the top of my mostly empty head, I can think of Edelen, Schul, Dellinger, Mills, Lindgren, Ryun, Young, Shorter, Moore, Bacheler, Prefontaine. Each of these guys either medaled or produced a solid perhaps near-medal performance in the OG, or ran with and/or beat the best in the world in his event at some point during this period.

So, with that in mind, I was interested to see Tracy Smith's US & world rankings during this period. He's often in the mix just ahead or behind in the rankings with several of the guys I listed above, which means he must have been prominent in these competitions during these years:

US 5000 ranking:
1966 -- 3rd (World -- 8th)
1967 -- 2nd
1968 -- 5th
1969 -- 1st (World -- 10th)
1972 -- 6th

US 10000 ranking:
1965 -- 9th
1966 -- 1st
1968 -- 1st

Is there anyone out there who either was either around for that era, or who knows its history much better than I do, who can provide some more info on Tracy Smith? Thanks!
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Postby gh » Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:58 am

indooor WR in 3M too, as I recall.
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Postby tc » Fri Oct 26, 2007 11:47 am

One of the nation's top HS milers (Cal State champion) and a NR at two miles while at Arcadia HS in 1963.
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby jamese1045 » Fri Oct 26, 2007 1:32 pm

Master Po wrote:While recently browsing TFN's US & world all-time rankings, I encountered this guy -- Tracy Smith -- prominently on the US lists in the mid-late 60s-early 70s era. I wasn't around then, but I have tried to read the history of that era, and somehow I had never heard of him.

That period -- from Tokyo to Munich was a good one for US distance runners: For instance, off the top of my mostly empty head, I can think of Edelen, Schul, Dellinger, Mills, Lindgren, Ryun, Young, Shorter, Moore, Bacheler, Prefontaine. Each of these guys either medaled or produced a solid perhaps near-medal performance in the OG, or ran with and/or beat the best in the world in his event at some point during this period.

So, with that in mind, I was interested to see Tracy Smith's US & world rankings during this period. He's often in the mix just ahead or behind in the rankings with several of the guys I listed above, which means he must have been prominent in these competitions during these years:

US 5000 ranking:
1966 -- 3rd (World -- 8th)
1967 -- 2nd
1968 -- 5th
1969 -- 1st (World -- 10th)
1972 -- 6th

US 10000 ranking:
1965 -- 9th
1966 -- 1st
1968 -- 1st

Is there anyone out there who either was either around for that era, or who knows its history much better than I do, who can provide some more info on Tracy Smith? Thanks!


I saw him a few times and was much impressed.
I think he was a tallish very light blonde guy, sort of quiet and low-keyed. ..

Here's a squib related to Bill Rodgers taking a record --[edit--well equalling Tracy's place in international running--]]away from him (above)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Rodgers_%28athlete%29

I hope that link works--the squib is in context.
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Postby Double R Bar » Fri Oct 26, 2007 3:31 pm

I saw Tracy Smith run many times in the 1960's. He was very good. I believe he use to train up in Bishop, California. Bishop is a fairly small town on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. It's a beautiful spot and has some great areas for running at altitude.
Tracy made the 1968 Olympic team in the 10,000. He won the final trials, running only his second 10,000 of that year. His winning time at the trials was the second-fastest time ever above 7,000 feet.

I think he use to train with the same coach Jim Beatty used at the Los Angeles Track Club (Igloi). He did set a world indoor 3 mile record (13:15.2) before the Mexico City Olympic Games.

This coming March, Tracy will be 63 years old. I'm not sure where he lives now.
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Postby no one » Fri Oct 26, 2007 3:44 pm

Tracy Smith was a guy who had great range (mile to 10k and longer on roads). near legend status to hard core runners in Cal. Just He was a fixture in the So Cal running scene in track (indoor and outdoor), XC and roads. I ran against him a coupla times that I can remember - even came close on one occasion.in 70 0r 71. But no ceegar. When he was on he was always in the hunt and often winning. Never really knew him - just from afar.
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Postby orvilleatkins » Fri Oct 26, 2007 4:03 pm

Tracy Smith won the California State High School Mile in 1963 in 4:14.4. He was the first US runner to finish the 1968 Olympic 10,000 meters coming 11th of 31 finishers in 30:14.6. He was coached by Mihaly Igloi. Tracy was one of the nicest people in Track and Field.
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Postby Master Po » Fri Oct 26, 2007 4:27 pm

Thanks for these replies -- much appreciated!

Picking up on the info in a link provided above to add one more bit to Smith's resume -- he was 3rd in the 1966 International Cross Country Championships. (Not as global a race as now, but he did finish ahead of some notables, eg, Michel Jazy & Ron Hill.)
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Postby lonewolf » Fri Oct 26, 2007 10:39 pm

I remember watching Tracy Smith attempt at indoor 3 mile record on b/w television. I think the meet was in Califorinia and the announcer made much of the fact he had a long drive from Bishop and arrived just in time to run.
He won but I don't remember if he set a record.
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Postby BYU grad » Sun Oct 28, 2007 5:48 pm

When Tracy Smith won the US Olympic Trials 10,000m at Lake Tahoe in 1968, didn't he pull a "Murray Halberg" and run away from everyone with 3 laps to go? I remember thinking how gutsy that was.
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Postby dj » Mon Oct 29, 2007 5:30 am

BYU grad wrote:When Tracy Smith won the US Olympic Trials 10,000m at Lake Tahoe in 1968, didn't he pull a "Murray Halberg" and run away from everyone with 3 laps to go? I remember thinking how gutsy that was.


He may have started a long drive with 3 to go, but if he did he didn't pull away much from Van Nelson and Tom Laris. According to Richard Hymans's "History of the U.S. Olympic Trials:" "Smith kicked with 250m to go running his last 200 in 27.0 . . ."

A few more odds and ends: born 15 March 1945, 5-11/156

ran for Oregon State, and after college for Pasadena AA, U.S. Army and Athletes in Action, and (I think) on the ITA pro circuit

Outdoor AAU titles: 3M '69, 6M '66, 10k '68
Indoor AAU titles: 3M '67, '73 (first American in '66)
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Postby jhc68 » Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:40 am

Here's another Tracy Smith question: was he associated with Bishop Union HS X-Country back in the late 1970's? Bishop had a string of very strong small-school teams (no super stars but a lot of consistent, tough kids) and in my foggy memory I have dredged up the impression that Smith was working with them in some capacity. Anyone know?
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Postby Justin Clouder » Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:44 am

In the UK, Tracy is strictly a female name, is it common as a male name in the USA? Is it short for something?

Same goes for the name of my sister - Zoe. There was a male 70s US sprinter called Zoe Simpson. Is that an oddity or is Zoe also used as a male name in the US?

Just curious!

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Postby gh » Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:15 pm

3 men named Tracy have scored in the NCAA Champs:

Tracy Baskin 800
Tracy Smith
Tracy Bryant 4x4

Gerry Lindgren's coach was Tracy Walters.

Tracy Stallard is famous (well, relatively speaking!) as the man who gave up Roger Maris's 61st home run.

----
Zoe Simpson is the only male I can think of with that name, although on these shores at least the women pronounced it zoh-ee, and as far as I know his rhymed w/ Joe.
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Postby catson52 » Mon Oct 29, 2007 4:39 pm

"When Tracy Smith won the US Olympic Trials 10,000m at Lake Tahoe in 1968, didn't he pull a "Murray Halberg" and run away from everyone with 3 laps to go? I remember thinking how gutsy that was."

The T&FN description of that race says that when Billy Mills dropped back at about 9 K, the first three felt very relieved. Also that Tom Laris maintained the pressure primarily until the last backstraight, where Smith raced away with speed. The finish was, Tracy Smith ~25 m up on Van Nelson, who in turn was ~30 m up on Tom Laris.
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Postby ppalmer » Tue Oct 30, 2007 10:49 am

Justin Clouder wrote:In the UK, Tracy is strictly a female name, is it common as a male name in the USA? Is it short for something?

Same goes for the name of my sister - Zoe. There was a male 70s US sprinter called Zoe Simpson. Is that an oddity or is Zoe also used as a male name in the US?

Just curious!

Justin


If you deal with youth athletics in the US you will be even more confused. With only slight exaggeration, names don't have a "usual gender "anymore. From skimming our results from last summer, here are some I would have no idea about just reading the list:

Blake, Varsity, Cassidy, Taylor, Shelby, Chevron, Madison

(I am omitting ones that I think I know how to distinguish: Leslie vs. Lesley, Devin vs. Devyn.)

Out of a few hundred names, not one Mary.

The only young Tracy is a teenage female; the only Tracy I remember from earlier generations is a 70+ year old guy.

Pat Palmer
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Postby jamese1045 » Tue Oct 30, 2007 8:00 pm

ppalmer wrote:
Justin Clouder wrote:In the UK, Tracy is strictly a female name, is it common as a male name in the USA? Is it short for something?

Same goes for the name of my sister - Zoe. There was a male 70s US sprinter called Zoe Simpson. Is that an oddity or is Zoe also used as a male name in the US?

Just curious!

Justin


If you deal with youth athletics in the US you will be even more confused. With only slight exaggeration, names don't have a "usual gender "anymore. From skimming our results from last summer, here are some I would have no idea about just reading the list:

Blake, Varsity, Cassidy, Taylor, Shelby, Chevron, Madison

(I am omitting ones that I think I know how to distinguish: Leslie vs. Lesley, Devin vs. Devyn.)

Out of a few hundred names, not one Mary.

The only young Tracy is a teenage female; the only Tracy I remember from earlier generations is a 70+ year old guy.

Pat Palmer

Tracy McGrady in U.S. Basketball want to see you outside.... :shock:
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Postby Tinman » Wed Oct 31, 2007 11:53 pm

I am trying to remember, was Tracy Smith coached by Sam Bell while at Oregon State Univeristy; the same coach who went to Indiana and coached several notables such as Jim Spivey and Bob Kennedy?
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Postby dj » Thu Nov 01, 2007 7:09 am

Tinman wrote:I am trying to remember, was Tracy Smith coached by Sam Bell while at Oregon State Univeristy; the same coach who went to Indiana and coached several notables such as Jim Spivey and Bob Kennedy?


Yes, for two years. Bell left OSU after 1965 to go to Cal. Berny Wagner succeeded Bell.
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Postby Cooter Brown » Thu Nov 01, 2007 8:08 am

ppalmer wrote:(I am omitting ones that I think I know how to distinguish: Leslie vs. Lesley, Devin vs. Devyn.)


Growing up, I knew a guy named Leslie who named his daughter Leslie.

What's weird is I also grew up with a girl named after her mother. I've never seen that before or since. She was called Junior.
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Postby Alan Sigmon » Tue Nov 06, 2007 7:01 pm

TFN I March 1973, pp 10-11 reports on Smith's World Indoor Record 13:07.2, bettering George Young's 13:09.8, at the '73 AAU Indoor meet, noting it was his third 3 Mile WIR. He set one of the others at the '67 AAU, when he clipped 2.2 off a Ron Clarke Record. In the '73 race, Neil Cusack set the pace [4:18.8, 8:45.8] before ending up 2nd in 13:10.6 (a European Record, and close to the old WR).

There's two thirds of a page of small print about Smith on the facing page (p. 11), one of those really in-depth profiles that I remember from the good old days of 1973, the first year I subscribed to Track & Field News.
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Postby 26mi235 » Tue Nov 06, 2007 8:19 pm

I happened to mention Tracy Smith on another thread yesterday or today. The first non-HS mile I saw was Ryun Scaring Jazy's WR at the Compton Invite(?) early June 1966, when he ran 3:53.7 (someone corrected me). Also in that meet was Tracy Smith and I think he won the two-mile. I was cheering for him; a younger brother was the top runner on our (Alhambra) top rival, Arcadia HS, so he was occasionally at our dual meet with Arcadia.
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby mikecadicamo » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:52 am

Howdy,

Tracy and I became good friends when I moved to Bishop, California in 1983. I was working as a reporter for the lcoal paper and had to cover a 10 k race. He was in it. And he won it...his closest competitor was about 300 yards behind him. Tracy was the the youth pastor at the Bishop First Presbyterian Church. My wife to be and I attended that church and helped Tracy with the youth ministry. Tracy was a great athlete. And he was highly respected in the Bishop community for his work with the youth. I haven't seen him in a very long time, perhaps 20 years. He, and his wife, Caroline, moved the family to Bend, Oregon about that long ago. That's where they've been to this day.
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby lovetorun » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:33 am

Thanks for this update on Tracy Smith...he's probably still helping youth and winning road races in the Bend area!

I identify with him since we are about the same age and had our competitive period at the same time i.e. late 60's , early 70's. Only difference is my 3 mile PR is 14:54.7 (outdoor) !
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby Double R Bar » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:47 am

I saw and talked with Tracy Smith In Eugene during the 2008 Olympic Trials. Yes, he is living in Bend and seemed to be doing well. He still looks great. I have good memories of his running.
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby runfaster » Sun Oct 09, 2011 7:41 pm

Hi everyone, I found this thread while searching for my old High School coaches indoor record. I just want to say that Mr. Smith was the best running coach I've ever had and he really taught me a lot about running. I also attended his running camp that he put on during the summer months when school was out.

I can say that he is one of the most humble guys around and even though he is older he will push you harder then you have been pushed before and keep up with you the whole way. I graduated in 1999 and I'm happy to say that I never stopped running thanks to him. I'm currently in the USCG and kicking ass at Chiefs Academy because of him (ran a nice 5.5 mile run today).

I talked to his daughter yesterday and saw a recent picture of the family and he looks the same. He is in phenomenal shape for his age or any age for that matter. He definitely wins the longevity award because he never stopped running. I think it is really cool that people still talk about him and I'm so lucky that I had him as a coach.
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby skwagner » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:27 pm

Tracy Smith attended my high school--Arcadia High, in Arcadia, CA. He was legendary for his unusual training regimen: you could often see him running on the grassy islands that ran up the middle of Santa Anita Avenue. He spoke at my junior high school sports award banquet in 1968 after graduating from Oregon State University, which I also attended. Have heard very little of him since the late 1960s, and as a longtime journalist I'd love to do a story on him. Incidentally, one of my first newspaper articles was on...Tracy Smith, for the Arcadia Tribune.
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby DoubleRBar » Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:59 pm

This past weekend I attended the Arcadia Invitational at Arcadia High School. What a great high school meet. If you have never been, you might consider going one year. The meet could use a bigger stadium for spectators. It's always very crowded. I believe the meet started after Tracy Smith graduated from Arcadia High School.
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby no one » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:14 pm

Arcadia's first meet in 1968. Tracy ran a special 3000 race. Even from the outset the two mile (now morphed into its metric form) - was a showcase event. Anyway - the meet didn't begin until '68 - 4 yrs after Smiths grad from HS
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby SQUACKEE » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:21 am

Tracy had a wicked kick. I knew his old roomate and Tracy told him he was getting married but had a big worry about it, like all newly married men do....passing gas in bed!! :oops:
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby Halfmiler2 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:21 pm

I think I recall his having an incredible split for the last 400 meters of a 5,000m or 10,000m race.
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby 26mi235 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:05 am

skwagner wrote:Tracy Smith attended my high school--Arcadia High, in Arcadia, CA. He was legendary for his unusual training regimen: you could often see him running on the grassy islands that ran up the middle of Santa Anita Avenue. He spoke at my junior high school sports award banquet in 1968 after graduating from Oregon State University, which I also attended. Have heard very little of him since the late 1960s, and as a longtime journalist I'd love to do a story on him. Incidentally, one of my first newspaper articles was on...Tracy Smith, for the Arcadia Tribune.


I went to Alhambra HS and Arcadia was our big rival and we always liked the guys on the team; having the connection to Tracy, who came to a few meets (his younger brother ran for Arcadia, I think) did not hurt.

I have another connection with him that I did not realize until I read the post earlier on this thread). When I was in high school we twice did an Easter Week work camp at Bishop California, the Alhambra Presbyterian Church maybe 1967 and 1968? Since he was later affiliated with the church in Bishop, I guess I worked on the buildings he used a few years later.

skwagner, I just sent you a Private Message with some more info.
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby ozzychick10 » Fri May 18, 2012 11:03 am

Hey Guys, sound this while I was browsing my coaches name! Tracy Smith is currently the cross country coach at Crook County High School in Prineville, OR. He still lives in Bend but coaches XC and LD in Prineville. He is one of the sweetest guys I know and still runs most of our drills with us! On our last XC practice of the season we watched the footage of him breaking off 3 laps early and it was awesome to see his determination and high spirits as he ran! So proud to know him and be coached by him! We are the luckiest team to have him! Anyways, just wanted to give an update on his current situation!
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby ozzychick10 » Fri May 18, 2012 11:05 am

Hey Guys, found this while I was browsing my coaches name! Tracy Smith is currently the cross country coach at Crook County High School in Prineville, OR. He still lives in Bend but coaches XC and LD in Prineville. He is one of the sweetest guys I know and still runs most of our drills with us! On our last XC practice of the season we watched the footage of him breaking off 3 laps early and it was awesome to see his determination and high spirits as he ran! So proud to know him and be coached by him! We are the luckiest team to have him! Anyways, just wanted to give an update on his current situation! :D
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Re:Tracy Smith Part 1

Postby bishoprunner » Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:10 pm

jhc68 wrote:Here's another Tracy Smith question: was he associated with Bishop Union HS X-Country back in the late 1970's? Bishop had a string of very strong small-school teams (no super stars but a lot of consistent, tough kids) and in my foggy memory I have dredged up the impression that Smith was working with them in some capacity. Anyone know?


I realize I am very late in joining this topic, but hopefully some of the people that participated in it are still around. This went way longer than I intended, so I had to do 2 posts due to the length of my comments.

I lived in Bishop from the summer of 1976 - summer of 1978 and went to high school there my sophomore/junior years. Had to move away a week before my senior year began, but that's another topic. Anyways, Tracy Smith was our track distance coach while I was there, and had an incredible influence on my life. He was/is incredibly humble and a man of great character. I was new to running, and while I quickly learned from others that he had held a world record and had been in the Olympics, there was no way you could tell that by talking to him. He was a terrific role model for all of us, and it sounds like he is continuing to be a great example to the kids up in Oregon.

I remember, distinctly, how he would run our interval workouts with us on the track. He would run with the boys, and while we did our recovery jog, he would run with the interval with the girls. By the time the girls were done, we were ready to go and he would go with us while the girls recovered. This would continue for the entire workout with Tracy never getting a break until everyone's workout was complete. Looking back at this, he would have been in his early 30's, and he was still in excellent condition, so for an athlete of his caliber to do this probably wasn't too difficult (the boys would average 65 - 80 a lap). However, the feeling of running with him and watching him run has been imprinted in my mind. He was almost machine like, it seemed like he could go forever and was just so compact and smooth. He was very strong and his arms seemed to move like pistons. He encouraged me to do pull ups to increase my upper body strength which I gladly did in the hopes I could run like him, or at least look like him as I ran.
Tracy stressed the importance of knowing your limits and running on pace for most of the race. During our track workouts he would tell us what splits we were to hit. Sometimes it was race pace, other times it was goal pace. He kept a record of each workout and at the end of a certain period of time, the boy and girl who were closest to the splits for those workouts us were invited over to his house for a waffle/pancake breakfast. I was able to win once and I was in awe. He had a glass coffee table in the living room with only a few of his medals and it was impressive. Other than that, you would have no idea of how great a runner he was.
Last edited by bishoprunner on Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tracy Smith Part 2

Postby bishoprunner » Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:12 pm

His wife, Caroline, was just as humble. She was also an accomplished runner. They had a golden retreiver, I think it's name was Shawn, that loved to go in the lakes and retrieve. They also had a donkey or a mule named Christmas. Tracy would load her up and take us backpacking in the Sierras. So, as you can probably tell, I wasn't too thrilled to have to leave this just before my senior year. He also had a running camp in Mammoth during the summer that I attended after I graduated high school. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this: Tracy was a great runner, but above all of that he was a man of exemplary character to his runners. I sent him a Christmas card a few years ago, and it looks like he has raised his children to also be wonderful citizens. I am thankful for the short time I knew him, and am not surprised he is still going strong after all these years. The kids in Oregon are fortunate.

Now, about Bishop Union cross country. We won the Mt. SAC Invitational and CIF 1A (I think that is what it was called back then) in 1976 and 1977. Richard Arnold was our coach, and he was fantastic. A man of few words, but we all wanted to perform for him. Our training area and the courses we ran on in league were nothing compared to the Mt. SAC course. We would come down from 4,000 ft. altitude and see the smooth, almost road-like surface of Mt. SAC and do very well. Our top guy, Steve Peters, won CIF cross country two years in a row. Our second guy, Horatio Martinez, was usually right behind. There was no state cross country meet back then, so I don't know how our times would have compared to the other larger schools. But compared to the small schools, I think we did pretty well.

Okay, sorry for being long winded, but the 2 years I spent in Bishop created some wonderful memories. It's where I began to run competitively, and it was fantastic. We had 2 superb men coaching us, talented athletes, and an excellent environment to train in. I have lost contact with all of them, other than Tracy, so if any of them see this, shoot me an email!

Brian
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Re: Tracy Smith

Postby jhc68 » Sat Oct 20, 2012 5:55 pm

Thanks for the backstory, Brian.
I was coaching at Carpinteria HS during that mid 70's to very early '80's time period.
Our boy's teams were always in the CIF Finals and a couple of times we thought our seven had real shots at winning but Bishop Union and/or the Sherman Indians were always too tough at the end of the season!
I distinctly remember one Bishop runner (I'm thinking it was Peters) running at Mt. Sac with a pretty gnarly looking cast on his arm. That was the sort of resolve that was difficult to beat.
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