David and Goliath, circa 1973 NCAA Indoors...by Mike Fanelli, used with permission


Mike Fanelli is one of those special people who makes our sport of athletics amazing. Mike was a fine runner, and a life long runner at that. He has one of the finest museums of track & field in the world, and his ability to communicate his enthusaism of the sport gives thousands everyday a view into the sport that so few appreciate. Just follow Mike Fanelli on Facebook. His daily commentary on the history of our sport should be read by all.

I have know Mike since 1978-1979. I have known him as athlete, elite athlete coordinator, running brand manager. He is one of those amazing friends who keeps the relationship alive.

Please enjoy this column from Mike Fanelli.

colondmr.jpgTony Colon takes the DMR, photo from Mike Fanelli Track Garage

DAVID AND GOLIATH CIRCA 1973...and I'm not talking David Wottle who did win the one mile run at this, my all time favorite NCAA Indoor National Championships ever held. Instead, I'm talking the Goliaths that were Michigans, USCs, Nebraskas, Tennessees, and Wisconsins that wreaked havoc on collegiate team titles of yore. But first, let me set the scene.
Beginning with the inaugural Collegiate Indoor National Championships, and for 17 years thereafter, the NCAA's under cover track championships were staged in Detroit's epic Cobo Hall. They were run on a track built of specially processed Sitka spruce and supported by scaffold-type steel...which took two months and $31,000 to construct.
This '73 meeting included 402 entries from 105 colleges, including two Olympic gold medalists from the recent Olympic Games of Munich, Rod Milburn and the aforementioned Wottle. Official team scoring for all events used a 6 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 methodology.
On day one, Jasper frosh, Ken McBryde leapt from 6th to 3rd on his final TJ effort to score 3 points...Manhattan's first. Later that evening, Mike Keogh lined up for the two mile run alongside Wottle, who had raced a one mile semi-final an hour earlier. The pace dawdled through the first 11 laps and then Wisconsin Badger, Glenn Herold upped the ante so as not to get stung by the 800 meter Olympian's lethal kick. Keogh went along for the ride, and slipped past Herold with 300 to go. Keogh's winning gamble paid big dividends including 6 more team points for his 8:38.7 victory.
When Saturday rolled around, Cobo was packed to the rafters with 10,000 spectators. While Tar Heel Tony Waldrop outlasted Keith Francis in the 1,000, a lesser known man from Manhattan, Cliff Bruce, snuck in for bronze, and added yet three more points to the New Yorker's scorecard. But it was the distance medley sizzle that truly brought the house down.
Leading off for the kelly green jerseyed Bronx bombers was John Lovett, who split 1:53.2 and passed the baton in a close second place. He handed off to freshman 440 runner, Ray Johnson, who carried the stick for a brisk 50.4 seconds, but slipped back to fourth place. Former Roselle Catholic standout, Joe Savage wasted no time in making up ground on the trio of three quarter milers ahead of him. Running what is arguably one of the most amazing races of his career, Savage's 1320 was timed in 2:55.9, and now, Manhattan had the lead. Tony Colon was up next, and in spite of his hefty margin over the rest of the field, hammered away to the relay's fastest mile time. His 4:04.3 eleven lapper was the relay's fastest mile time and secured his squad with a win by a full five second margin over Colorado, 9:43.8 to 9:48.8. In so doing, the Manhattan foursome was rewarded with a new DMR world record. But perhaps more importantly, they scored another half dozen team points to advance their tally to 18.
Upon conclusion of the one mile relay, it would not require an abacus to determine the team title. The real duel was for second place where Kansas, Kent State, and UTEP all tied with 12 points, a metric that was fully twenty-five per cent fewer than the newly crowned National Champions, Manhattan College. With a total enrollment of just 2800 students, the Jaspers are to this day THE smallest school to ever win a D1 track title. And to think that they did so while armed with nothing but aluminum relay batons, not slingshots...HA!
While I was super fired up to watch this coming weekend's NCAA meet (since cancelled), if this here track nut had his druthers, he'd hop aboard the Wayback Machine and ride it straight to Motown '73...perhaps he'd even indulge in an adult beverage along the way, ideally...wait for it...a Manhattan.

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