The United States' National Championships In Track & Field Athletics: Introduction
In this book you will find the most complete record extant of the United States'
national championships in track & field athletics. When one considers that
the United States has always been the preeminent nation in track & field,
it can be deduced that these are the records of the most competitive national
championships in the world. In addition, though a few people defer to the NCAA
meet, this is certainly the most important meet held annually in the United
States. Similar books have been done in the past for other major events, though
usually events of international scope. However, the British AAA Meet has been
similarly documented. In addition, Garry Hill did an excellent compilation of
the NCAA meet a few years back.
On a warm summer's afternoon in Burgh Next Aylsham, England, we shared an ale
and decided we would attempt to emulate Garry Hill's effort by compiling this
book. Since that day three years ago, we have had a lot of help.
Specifically we extend our help to the following people, hoping we have not
omitted anyone, and apologizing if we have: Dave Batchelor, Bob Bowman, Frank
Candida, Dave Carey, Peter Cava, Pam Cooper, Scott Davis, Elliott Denman, Peter
Diamond, Gerard Dumas (CAN/FRA), Bob Gilmore, Roger Gynn (GBR), Steve Hellyer,
Richard Hymans (GBR), Dave Johnson, Robert Kitchen, Dave Martin, Lambros Milanos,
Jack Moreland, Jack Pfeifer, Don Potts, Roberto Quercetani (ITA), Garner Roberts,
Howard Willman, Frank Zarnowski, and many, many sports information directors
and alumni records directors around the country.
Though we have spent many hours editing the various sections of the book, we
know that in a work containing this much detail, errors have inevitably crept
in. We don't know where they are but would appreciate being informed of any
error of omission, or commission: You can contact us at:
Federation of American Statisticians of Track (FAST)
International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH)
Durham, NC 27712 USA
Hope you like it.
Bill Mallon, Durham, North Carolina
Ian Buchanan, Hong Kong
updated August 2002
The following primary sources were used, listed along with the years for which
they contained information. In addition, the New York Times article
on the national meet was consulted for every year through 1960. Also, the local
newspaper article on each meet (when not held in New York) was consulted for
every year through 1948.
Amateur Athlete (1920-1940)
AAU Guides (1921-1949)
Athletics Weekly (1946-1947)
The Marathon Footrace (Gynn/Martin) (various years)
The Milers (Nelson/Quercetani) (various years)
The New York Clipper (1876-1900)
The New York Sportsman (1876-1890)
1984 United States Final Olympic Track & Field Trials Media Guide
(Davis/Mallon) (many Olympic years)
Spalding's Official Athletic Almanacs (1910-1942)
The Spirit of the Times (1876-1900)
Track & Field News (1948-1985)
One may note that the years 1900–1920 are not well represented on the
above list. In fact these are the years for which our information is the most
scanty. Basically we relied on Spalding's Almanacs for these years
supplemented by the local newspapers. However, it was rare for results to be
given past 3rd-place until 1915, at which time they went to 4 places. From 1915
until 1938 we usually only can provide the top 4 places, with exceptions. Prior
to 1900, and since 1938, we usually have the top 6 finishers in every event.
The Name Of The Meet
In 1870 the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) was by far the best known athletic
club in the United States. That year they started their series of athletic meets,
known as the Spring Games and Fall Games of the NYAC – two per year. Early
in 1876, it was decided that a national championship meet was necessary and
desirable and the best known meet of the year was chosen to serve that purpose.
Thus, in late 1876, the 7th Annual Fall Games of the NYAC became the first national
championship meet. The NYAC sponsored the meet for three years.
In 1879, however, a national organization had been formed, composed of many
member athletic clubs and known as the National Association of Amateur Athletes
of America (NAAAA). They sponsored the 1879 meet and ran the meet through 1887.
In 1888 a rival organization to the NAAAA, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)
came into being, quickly became the more powerful group, and held a national
meeting in that year. The NAAAA, however, refused to fold immediately and also
conducted a national championship in 1888 – thus there were two that year.
The national championship was held under the aegis of the AAU for almost a
century. In 1978 the President's Commission on Amateur Sports was able to pass
the Amateur Sports Act that delineated how amateur sports should be governed
in this country. The AAU, which controlled the majority of the sports on the
Olympic program, would see its powers severely crippled. A new organization,
The Athletics Congress (TAC), was chosen to oversee track & field athletics.
In 1980 TAC held its first national championship and control of the meet has
rested there since.
[Since the original edition of this book (published in 1986), the National
Governing Body of track & field athletics in the United States has again
undergone a name change. It is now called USA Track & Field (USATF), and
we agree with other writers who cannot understand why the acronym was not chosen
as USTAF. The meet has been conducted under the aegis of USATF since the 1993
The Results Of The Meets
On the following pages are the results of the national championships in track
& field athletics. In all cases, we have attempted to give the results 6-deep,
although this has not always been possible due to lack of information. Prior
to 1900, we have succeeded in most cases, although many times the field did
not have 6 competitors. From 1900 to 1913, our results are usually only 3-deep.
From 1914 to 1938, the majority of events are covered only 4-deep. From 1939
on we virtually always have the top 6 finishers. In a few cases, we have included
extra finishers, where we found them of particular interest. We have also tried
to footnote the results extensively to explain any deviations from the norm.
The command line above each list of results contains relevant information about
the event. It contains format (yards/meters or other unusual data), date, site
(if not at the main event), starters/finishers (in the final only), and wind
conditions, where pertinent. Dates given are for the final only, in recent years
where the meet has occupied more than one day. Again all information is contingent
on its availability.
Prior to 1940, place times were almost never published. A few "estimated"
times were sent to us by reliable sources, and we used these, indicating them
with an "e." Otherwise, we have tried not to draw conclusions about
possible estimated times but instead have given the margins of victory or gaps
between places wherever known. These are always based on reports in contemporary
papers or magazines. Prior to the days of published wind speeds, we have also
indicated newspaper comments about the wind in the appropriate events.
In all events, we have given the best performance at the meet for each year,
when known. That is, we list all heat, qualifying and semifinal marks/times
that are better than the mark/time posted by the winner in the finals. This
should help anyone interested in compiling year lists. We have also tried to
note Meet, American, and World Records, whenever they have been set, including
heats and qualifying. A progressive list of these can be found in the section
Which events to include and which to omit was a difficult problem. Our final
decision was to include all events held at the main men's outdoor national championship
meet, with the exception of relays, the bicycle races of the 19th century, and
the few swimming events of the 19th Century. In addition, we included all current
events on the Olympic calendar, which added such non-main site events as the
marathon, decathlon, 20 and 50K walks, and the steeplechase, in its early years.
The final decision to omit relays was a difficult one, and was based on two
factors. First, they are today virtually club events for second-rate clubs,
and secondly, it was impossible to find the names of the competitors in over
50% of the teams.
We have used a myriad of abbreviations to document the data and the many permutations
of records set. These are listed in the following. In addition, names of countries
are abbreviated using the International Olympic Committee system.
a = automatic time
AC = Also competed: (implies exact finish not known)
AR = American record
ARa = American record - automatic time (implies inferior to the record hand-timed.)
ARm = American record - metric distance
ARsm = American record - straightaway - metric distance
ARsy = American record - straightaway - Imperial distance
ARy = American record - Imperial distance
B = date of birth
bh = behind
C = Club
Coll = College
D = Date
DQ = disqualified
DNF = did not finish
DNS = did not start
e = estimated time
F = Format
ft = feet/foot
h = hand time
h = heat mark, or hand-time in a decathlon
jo = jumpoff
MR = meet record
MRa = meet record - automatic time (implies inferior to the record hand-timed)
MRm = meet record - metric distance
MRsm = meet record - straightaway - metric distance
MRsy = meet record - straightaway - Imperial distance
MRy = meet record - Imperial distance
s = semifinal mark
S = Starters
S = Site (where different from the main meet)
S/F = Starters/Finishers (only for running events and for the final)
Temp = Temperature
T = Time
to = throwoff
U = University
w = windy mark
W = Wind
WR = World Record
WRm = World Record - metric distance
WRsm = World Record - straightaway - metric distance
WRsy = World Record - straightaway - Imperial distance
WRy = World Record - Imperial distance
yds = yards
The Results, By Event