www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Tigers fall, need win to host first round -2/27/2015, 10:20 AM

Tiger women, MIAA champs, hang on -2/27/2015, 10:29 AM

Monarchs survive on senior night -2/27/2015, 12:17 PM

With KU back in control, Jayhawks prepare for 'high drama' -2/27/2015, 10:19 AM

Nino Williams takes long road to success at Kansas State -2/27/2015, 10:18 AM

Sub-state basketball pairings -2/26/2015, 10:37 AM

3-2-1A wrestling -- Younger part of youth movement for Railers -2/26/2015, 10:48 AM

Big 12 reprimands K-State after court-storming -2/26/2015, 10:53 AM

Hays High's top four headed to Salina -2/26/2015, 10:36 AM

3-2-1A wrestling -- HDN area state qualifiers -2/26/2015, 10:48 AM

3-2-1A wrestling -- Porsch seeks a repeat in state finale -2/26/2015, 10:49 AM

3-2-1A wrestling -- Freshman Hutchinson leads young group of Redmen -2/26/2015, 10:49 AM

3-2-1A wrestling -- Norton steps up again to have shot at 3-2-1A state crown -2/26/2015, 10:50 AM

Shockers fight past Indiana State, set up big Saturday -2/26/2015, 10:27 AM

Rhoades back at state -- this time in 4A -2/26/2015, 10:36 AM

TMP survives Plainville -2/25/2015, 11:26 AM

K-State issues apology -2/25/2015, 10:22 AM

HHS swept at Dodge -2/25/2015, 10:22 AM

Tuesday's area prep basketball boxscores -2/25/2015, 10:21 AM

Royals still hoping for Starling to break out -2/24/2015, 10:22 AM

Penske revels in Logano's victory at Daytona 500 -2/24/2015, 10:22 AM

Wildcat's win throws a roadblock at Jayhawks -2/24/2015, 10:22 AM

KBCA prep basketball rankings, Feb. 23 -2/24/2015, 10:22 AM

Wildcats get it done -2/24/2015, 10:22 AM

No-name Hahn wins Northern Trust Open -2/23/2015, 10:24 AM

FHSU softball splits on Sunday in Minnesota -2/23/2015, 10:15 AM

Logano wins first Daytona 500 -2/23/2015, 10:15 AM

Lutz: VanVleet has another day to remember -2/23/2015, 10:14 AM

VanVleet takes Wichita State's assists title in win -2/23/2015, 10:14 AM

'Cats seek confidence before game with KU -2/23/2015, 10:14 AM

Perry Ellis, No. 8 Kansas rebound from loss, beat TCU -2/22/2015, 12:47 PM

Baylor drills K-State -2/22/2015, 12:48 PM

Monarch girls run away from Stockton -2/22/2015, 12:38 PM

TMP wins physical game at Stockton -2/22/2015, 12:39 PM

Mathews all-state for HHS -2/22/2015, 12:48 PM

HHS wins at Garden, jumps back into WAC race -2/22/2015, 12:41 PM

Wrestling roundup -- Hays High sends four to 4A state -2/22/2015, 8:19 PM

Victoria puts together complete game in win at Ness City -2/22/2015, 12:40 PM

HHS girls fall down early, lose at Garden -2/22/2015, 12:39 PM

Earnhardt Jr. makes Duel history, Patrick qualifies -2/20/2015, 10:19 AM

HHS sends relays to state -2/20/2015, 10:19 AM

Tiger baseball takes two from UCM -2/20/2015, 10:19 AM

Gene Stephenson says he's filed his own appeal -2/19/2015, 10:13 AM

TCU takes out K-State -2/19/2015, 10:13 AM

Bohuslavsky keys win for Tiger women -2/19/2015, 10:59 AM

Tiger men rally for MIAA win -2/19/2015, 10:13 AM

Tiger women No. 1 in Central Region -2/18/2015, 5:04 PM

Tuesday's area prep basketball boxscores -2/18/2015, 11:22 AM

Barton's Hensley named Player of the Week -2/18/2015, 10:24 AM

TMP boys win, girls fall in Great Bend -2/18/2015, 10:24 AM

K-State hopes to build some momentum at TCU -2/18/2015, 10:24 AM

Two in a row for HHS girls -2/18/2015, 10:47 AM

Hot early, HHS boys get win at Abilene -2/18/2015, 10:47 AM

All is possible at Daytona -2/17/2015, 10:27 AM

WVU tops Jayhawks in wild finish -2/17/2015, 10:27 AM

Chiefs can find impact receiver in NFL draft -2/17/2015, 10:27 AM

Chargers set sights on LA, push San Diego officials for action on stadium -2/17/2015, 10:27 AM

Defense a constant for Shockers -2/17/2015, 10:26 AM

FHSU, UCM series moved to Hays -2/16/2015, 10:55 AM

KU prepares for full-court press -2/16/2015, 10:17 AM

Foster lifts Kansas State past Oklahoma on Saturday -2/16/2015, 10:16 AM

Three Tigers crowned MIAA champs -2/16/2015, 10:16 AM

Bowyer, after crash, slams qualifying format -2/16/2015, 10:16 AM

Phillipsburg girls knock off TMP at the buzzer -2/15/2015, 7:54 PM

Hays High girls snap losing skid -2/15/2015, 2:21 PM

Hays High stunned by Liberal at the buzzer -2/15/2015, 7:54 PM

Tiger women's streak halted at Pitt State -2/15/2015, 10:26 AM

Tiger softball 1-3 to start season -2/15/2015, 7:54 PM

Tiger men fall at Pitt -2/15/2015, 7:54 PM

Tigers drop to 0-2 with losses to Mines, Regis -2/15/2015, 1:10 AM

KU coach kicks off tour in Hays -2/13/2015, 11:10 AM

K-State guard Johnson laughs off hecklers at W. Virginia -2/13/2015, 10:13 AM

The Tigers' do-it-all Shaw -2/13/2015, 11:10 AM

Samac staying on court, providing big games for Tigers -2/13/2015, 11:09 AM

Wichita State baseball players see winning as antidote to distractions -2/13/2015, 10:12 AM

Royals, Herrera agree -2/13/2015, 10:12 AM

Royals purchase contract of Derek Gordon -2/13/2015, 10:12 AM

KU's Ellis near 1,000 points -2/13/2015, 10:12 AM

Hoxies' record just a matter of time? -2/12/2015, 3:26 PM

New coach, new season for FHSU softball -2/12/2015, 11:25 AM

Tigers look for better pitching in 2015 -2/12/2015, 10:14 AM

Shox roll to win -2/12/2015, 10:04 AM

Kansas State rally again falls short at W. Virginia -2/12/2015, 10:04 AM

FHSU wrestling rolls to dual win -2/12/2015, 10:04 AM

2015 Eight-Man All-Star rosters -2/11/2015, 11:54 AM

Indiana State backcourt thrives with new characters -2/11/2015, 10:24 AM

Scott City rolls over TMP -2/11/2015, 10:24 AM

Jayhawks cruise past Texas Tech -2/11/2015, 10:24 AM

Kansas State braces for Mountaineers' full-court press -2/11/2015, 10:24 AM

Salina Central outlasts Hays High -2/11/2015, 10:24 AM

Tigers' Lehman earns seventh MIAA honor -2/9/2015, 1:56 PM

FHSU's Samac earns MIAA men's honor -2/9/2015, 1:56 PM

KBCA rankings, Feb. 9 -2/9/2015, 1:47 PM

Big day for Plainville grad Dani Winters -2/9/2015, 11:24 AM

Cowboys' Forte plays through flu -2/9/2015, 10:17 AM

At KU, Smith played on scout team -2/9/2015, 10:16 AM

North Carolina coaching icon Dean Smith dies at 83 -2/8/2015, 5:19 PM

Wichita State easily beats weakened Missouri State -2/8/2015, 4:52 PM

FHSU men hold off Hornets -2/8/2015, 8:58 PM

TMP's Rhoades third in Phillipsburg -2/8/2015, 8:58 PM

Sports Scores

Tuesday

Prep basketball

Boys

Atwood 76, St. Francis 65

Dighton 62, Oberlin 47

Hillsboro 50, Goodland 47

Lakeside 42, Lincoln 32

Minneapolis 68, Russell 35

Rock Hills 42, Natoma 37

Salina Central 62, Andover 58

Salina South 62, Sacred Heart 47

Sharon Springs 75, Leoti 38

St. John's Beloit-Tipton 57, Osborne 34

Sylvan-Lucas 61, Thunder Ridge 48

Girls

Dighton 44, Atwood 11

Dodge City 71, Hays High 28

Hesston 51, Goodland 18

Hoisington 60, Victoria 46

Hoxie 65, St. Francis 13

Lincoln 33, Lakeside 26

Minneapolis 47, Otis-Bison 24

Osborne 59, Wilson 34

Sharon Springs 63, Oberlin 42

Sylvan-Lucas 43, Natoma 41 (ot)

Tescott 41, Rock Hills 33

Trego 56, Leoti 27

Thunder Ridge 33, St. John's Beloit-Tipton 30

Click To View All


myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Jim Ryun reflects upon 50th anniversary of breaking four-minute mile

Published on -6/5/2014, 6:22 PM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

By Rick Plumlee
McClatchy-Tribune
Six hundred yards into the mile race, Jim Ryun was bumped in the tight pack of runners. He stumbled off the track to the infield.
"I wasn't even sure I'd finish the race," he said.
That was 50 years ago Thursday at the Compton Invitational in the Los Angeles area.
Ryun, a Wichita native who later became an Olympian and set world records, recovered and did finish.
His time of 3 minutes, 59 seconds made him the first high school student to run a mile under 4 minutes.
But don't look for any iconic pictures of Ryun finishing that race. Certainly nothing like the dramatic picture of him crossing the finish line nearly a year later when he won the mile at the state track meet in Wichita with a 3:58.3.
When you finish eighth -- as Ryun did that night in Compton -- no one is waiting to take your picture.
Ryun, however, also was a 17-year-old junior at East High School competing against a world-class field of older runners.
His placing didn't matter. His time of 3:59 did.
On Thursday night, Ryun will be at San Diego's Balboa Stadium when the milestone is honored.
That Ryun was even there that night on June 5, 1964, is an amazing story in itself.
His early efforts in sports didn't go well.
He was cut by his church's baseball team, cut by the Curtis Junior High basketball squad. He couldn't even make his junior high's track team.
"During my junior high days," Ryun said during a telephone interview this week, "I'd go to bed at night and pray, 'Dear God, if you've got a plan for my life, I'd appreciate it if you'd show up sooner or later, because it's not going very well.
" 'And if you could fit sports into it, I'd really like that.' "
His thinking was that letter jackets help attract girls.
As a sophomore at East High, he found distance running. In less than two years, he would be running the mile under 4 minutes and making the Olympic team for the first time.
Ryun lost his first high school race to a defending state champion, but he never lost again in the mile to prep-only competition.
He had a passion to work hard and didn't flinch at grueling workouts developed by his coach, Bob Timmons, a Marine combat veteran of World War II.
Timmons quickly saw potential in the tall, skinny lad. He set lofty goals for Ryun.
After running a 5:38 mile in the fall of his sophomore year, Ryun quickly progressed and won the Washington Relays in 4:21 in Kansas City, Kan. On the bus ride home, Timmons asked Ryun to sit down beside him.
"Congratulations, Jim," Timmons told Ryun, "but I think you can run faster. I'm thinking you can run under four minutes."
Ryun went to the back of the bus, puzzled and unable to comprehend what that meant.
"But that was the genesis to all this," he said.
The whole East High team began working for the same goal of seeing Ryun break 4 minutes. For instance, if the team was running repeat 440-yard intervals, he would start five or six seconds behind his teammates and try to catch up.
"It was a way to get me to the next level," he said. "They weren't offended by it. They saw it as a chance to do something historical."
At the state meet as a sophomore, Ryun won in a record time of 4:16.2. As a junior, just weeks before going to California for his historic moment, he won the state meet in 4:06.4 -- not only breaking his state record but also the national mark of 4:08.7.
Ryun was grabbing the attention of meet organizers across the country. The week before the Compton Invitational, he ran a 4:01.7 at the Modesto Relays in California.
East High students raised $121 to help pay for his and Timmons' trip to Modesto.
"I was running well at the time," Ryun said.
Still, there were doubters who wondered whether this high school kid belonged at Compton.
The race field was impressive during a track era when the 4-minute mile was the gold standard. All were either standout college runners or those who had gone on to the Olympics. Many had broken 4 minutes multiple times.
Dyrol Burleson, 24, competed in the 1960 Olympics. Jim Grelle, 27, was also a 1960 Olympian who had run a dozen miles under 4 minutes. Cary Weisiger was a former American record holder. Tom O'Hara, 21, was coming off an indoor season that saw him run a world-record 3:56.4.
For a taste of home, there was Archie San Romani Jr. He also was an East High product and was running for Oregon at the time.
But Ryun had been invited, so there he was. He and Timmons had a definite goal in mind.

Awakened by bump
Ryun focused on running the race, not on the pedigree of those on the track with him, with 7,800 people watching.
He was tied for second at the end of the first lap, but then came the bump heading into the turn at 600 yards. He stumbled off the track, then quickly regained his balance and was running again.
"It kind of awakened me," Ryun said. "Sometimes when you run a race, you get into a zone. You're so focused on the race that you aren't focused on it.
"When I stumbled, I had to figure out how to get back in the race. It was like a shot of adrenaline to help me refocus."
Or maybe it was just part of the plan.
"God works in mysterious ways," Ryun said. "It could have been I was just floating along. It could have been a moment that helped define the evening."
He was back in the race with 200 yards to go, trailing the leader by 10 yards.
In years to come, when he was running at the University of Kansas under Timmons' coaching, he would be noted for his kick. He was once timed at 10.2 seconds for the 100-yard dash.
But on that night 50 years ago, the 6-foot-2, 165-pound teen wasn't close to that kind of leg strength. The experience and power of the older runners took over.
"I'm just hanging on hoping to finish the race," Ryun said. "I'm so tired. When I crossed the finish line, I was a little discouraged, because I thought I hadn't done it."
But he quickly learned that, for the first time, the top eight finishers all had broken 4 minutes.
Burleson won in 3:57.4. Weisiger was one spot ahead of Ryun at 3:58.9. Only 1.6 seconds separated the eight runners.
And Ryun had his 3:59 -- the exact goal he and Timmons had set for the race.
He didn't sleep well that night. He tossed and turned, thinking how quickly he had reached a goal that once seemed so far away.
"It was hard to comprehend it happened," Ryun said. "Then when it did happen, it was a matter of thinking, 'Well, what if I had applied myself a little more?'
"Little things, like taking care of injuries."
Initially, the sub-4:00 was Timmons' goal. Gradually, it also became Ryun's goal.
"For me, that night was greater ownership," Ryun said.

One of five
Only five high school runners have broken 4 minutes, with the most recent coming in 2011 by Lukas Verzbicas with a 3:59.7.
Ryun did it three times, including the 3:58.3 at the state meet as a senior and a national-record 3:55.3 in June in San Diego after his senior year. The latter mark stood for nearly 36 years before Alan Webb's 3:53.43 in 2001.
Ryun also forever changed the way high school runners thought. That was certainly true for Marty Liquori.
Liquori was 15 when Ryun ran that 3:59. Three years later, he would become the third high school runner to break 4 minutes, with a 3:59.8.
"Before Jim Ryun, milers were 27, 28 years old before they hit their peak," Liquori said during a documentary done a number of years ago and now found on YouTube. "Jim told us all we didn't have to wait, that we could be good or even great at a young age."
Ryun's state meet record won't be broken because Kansas abandoned the mile for the 1,600-meter run in 1979. The Kansas Relays is one of the few meets in the country that still has a mile race.
There are movements, such as Bring Back the Mile, to have more mile runs. Ryun also would like to see the mile return.
"I think the general public relates more to a mile," said Ryun, who lives with his wife, Anne, in Washington, D.C.
The mile -- and track in general -- was good to him, and he was good for the sport.
Ryun was a three-time Olympian, earning a silver medal at the 1968 Games, setting world records in the mile, half-mile and 1,500 meters and becoming a five-term congressman for Kansas' 2nd District.
And while those mile races may seem long ago, his historic moment will be back in the spotlight Thursday night in San Diego.
Just in case people forget what it takes to break 4 minutes, a special race will be held for media at Balboa Stadium.
Everyone will run for 3 minutes, 59 seconds.
"We'll see how far they get," Ryun said.
digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos