New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: Track and field

Horace Ashenfelter

Horace Ashenfelter (Track and field.  Born, Collegeville, PA, Jan. 23, 1923.)  At the top of his class as an indoor two-miler in the early 1950s, Penn State graduate Horace Ashenfelter, III, was also a U.S. gold medal Olympian in the steeplechase at Helsinki (1952).  That year, Ashenfelter pushed Fred Wilt to a Madison Square Garden two-mile record.  In 1954, at the New York A.C. Games, he set the Garden record at 8:50.5 in winning the Touissaint Two-Mile.  Overall, Ashenfelter won the event three times at the N.Y.A.C. Games and twice each at the Millrose and Knights of Columbus, and took the three-mile five straight years at the National A.A.U. (1952-56).  Ashenfelter was the 1952 Sullivan Award winner as the nation’s top amateur athlete.

Evelyn Ashford

Evelyn Ashford (Track and field.  Born, Shreveport, LA, Apr. 16, 1957.)  A member of five U.S. Olympic teams from 1976 to 1992, Evelyn Ashford was a dominant sprinter both indoors and out during a career in which she won four Olympic gold medals.  Ashford was the 100-meter champion at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and the silver medalist in the same event in 1988 in Seoul.  But it was indoors that she made her lasting impression on New York track fans, both at Madison Square Garden and the Meadowlands Arena.  Ashford was the A.A.U. national champion in the 60-meters indoors from 1979-83, while running principally for the Medalist Track Club.  In 1979, she was clocked at 6.71 seconds for the distance in winning her first national.  That summer, she shocked many observers by beating the best in the world at outdoor events such as the World Cup.  In 1982, Ashford won her fourth straight National title at the Garden and set an A.A.U. championship record with a 6.54 clocking for the 60.  The following year, she sped home in 6.58 seconds and became the first woman ever to win the 60-meter title five straight years.  At the Meadowlands, she won the 55-meter dash at the Olympic Invitational meet in 1986, an event she also won in 1979.  Millrose Games fans saw her turn in another superb performance in 1986, although she finished second.  Ashford finished the 60 in 6.65 seconds, pushing Gwen Torrence to a meet record (6.57) to beat her.  Outdoors, Ashford became the first woman to run the Olympic 100-meter dash in less than 11 seconds with a 10.97 clocking to win at Los Angeles and by 1989 had run 23 sub-11.0’s, plus nine others that were wind-aided.

Ray Barbuti

(Track and field and college football. Born, Brooklyn, NY, June 12, 1905; died, Pittsfield, MA, July 8, 1988.)  A football star, Olympian, armed services veteran, and long-time college football referee, Raymond James Barbuti first gained attention playing fullback at Lawrence High School on Long Island. He scored eight touchdowns in a game to set New York State high school record that stood for the rest of his life.  At Syracuse, Barbuti was captain of both the football and track and field teams.  In 1928, he won the AAU title in the 400-meter dash, with a time of 51.8 seconds.  The same year, at the Amsterdam Olympic Games, he won two gold medals:  in the 400-meter dash and the 4×400-meter relay.  He covered the 400 in 47.8 seconds, and the relay team finished in a world-record 3:14.2. Barbuti was also a member of the 4×400 team that set another world record (3:13.4) in London a week after the Olympics.  Barbuti served in United States Army Air Forces during World War II and was awarded an Air Medal and a Bronze Star before retiring from the Army with the rank of major.  He later became the director of the Civil Defense Commission for New York State and director of the New York State Office of Disaster Preparedness.  Barbuti worked as a referee at more than 500 college football games. He was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1967.  – By Qian Wang

Bill Bonthron

Bill Bonthron (Track and field.  Born, Detroit, MI, Nov. 1, 1912; died, Princeton, NJ, Jan. 17, 1983.)  One of the star milers of the mid-1930s, William R. Bonthron was a Princeton man who often dwelled in the shadow of the immortal Glenn Cunningham.  But Bonthron’s career was not without its notable successes.  As a junior, he set a U.S. mile record of 4:08.7 and also won three events in the Princeton-Yale dual meet on the cinders of Palmer Stadium (the 800, 1,500, and 3,000 meters).  In 1934, Bonthron won the Baxter Mile in the N.Y.A.C. Games at Madison Square Garden (beating Cunningham) in 4:14.0, his best indoor mile time.  Later that year, he defeated Cunningham again, setting a world record (3:48.8) in winning the 1,500 in the A.A.U. nationals outdoors.  That feat helped him win the 1934 Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete.

Frank Brennan

Frank Brennan (Track and field.  Born, New York, NY, 1884; died, New York, Nov. 27, 1945.)  Though not distinguished as a runner, Frank A. Brennan became an influential meet director as the founder of the New York Chapter, Knights of Columbus indoor track meet in 1918.  Brennan started the meet at what was then the 22nd Engineers Armory in the Fort Washington section of Manhattan (now the Armory Track & Field Center).  He moved from 168th Street and Broadway to Madison Square Garden No. 2 at Madison Square in 1925.  The K. of C. meet then followed the Garden uptown for the 1926 renewal and remained a Garden fixture until 1970.  Brennan earlier was a member of the Pastime A.C., becoming its captain in 1908, and also served as an official at A.A.U. meets.

Henry Buermeyer

Henry Buermeyer (Track and field.  Born, New York, NY, Aug. 19, 1839; died, Brooklyn, NY, Oct. 10, 1922.)  Known in his early years as a rower and the top amateur boxer in the country, Henry Buermeyer became one of the three principal founders of the New York Athletic Club in 1868.  Buermeyer enlisted in the Union Army in May 1861, fought with the 9th New York Regiment in the Civil War, was twice wounded, and mustered out in 1864 after a serious leg wound.  He then combined with W.B. (Bill) Curtis and John Babcock to press the organization of the N.Y.A.C., which began Sept. 8, 1868.  Buermeyer served as treasurer (1868-72) and captain of the N.Y.A.C. track team (1873-74), remaining an active member virtually all his life.

Leroy Burrell

Leroy Burrell (Track and field.  Born, Philadelphia, PA, Feb.21, 1967.)  A top sprinter from the University of Houston, LeRoy Burrell won The Athletics Congress national indoor title in the 55-meter sprint (6.15 seconds) at the Garden in 1989 and the same event at the Millrose Games (6.11) in 1990.  Burrell won the T.A.C. 100 meters in 1991 in a then world-record 9.90.  He finished second in 6.55 in the Millrose 60 meters to Andre Cason (6.52) in 1992, the same year Burrell won gold at the Olympic Games on the U.S. 400-meter relay team.

Lee Calhoun

Lee Calhoun (Track and field.  Born, Laurel, MS, Feb. 23, 1933; died, Erie, PA, June 21, 1989.)  As the first man to win the 110-meter hurdles twice (1956 and 1960) Lee Q. Calhoun was an Olympic hero.  Calhoun won several indoor hurdles events in New York, including at the 1956 Millrose Games.  He was an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic squad in 1976 and Yale’s track coach for four years (1976-80) before moving to Western Illinois.

Sabin W. Carr

Sabin W. Carr (Track and field.  Born, Dubuque, IA, Sept. 4, 1904; died, Ventura, CA, Sept. 11, 1983.)  As the best pole vaulter of his era, Sabin William Carr became a U.S. gold medal Olympian.  Carr was also the first vaulter to clear 14’ (May 28, 1927, I.C.4A. meet at Philadelphia, Penna.).  He won the championship in that meet, then the most prestigious of the outdoor collegiate events, three years in a row (1926-28).  Carr set an indoor record at the 1927 New York Athletic Club Games in the Garden and broke it with a vault of 14’1” at the A.A.U. Nationals Feb. 25, 1928, also in the Garden.  Following his graduation from Yale, he won the gold with a then-Olympic record 13’9½” at the Amsterdam Games of 1928.

Eamonn Coghlan

Eamonn Coghlan (Track and field.  Born, Dublin, Ireland, Nov. 21, 1952.)  A friendly, engaging personality and an N.C.A.A. mile champion both indoors and outdoors while running for Villanova, Eamonn Coghlan became the dominant indoor miler of the 1980s, setting both the world indoor record at the Meadowlands Arena in 1983 and the Millrose Games meet record in 1981.  Coghlan is the only man to win the Rodman Wanamaker Mile Trophy three times (1979, 1981 and 1987) and, at one point, had won the Wanamaker Mile in the Millrose Games at the Garden three times in four years.  He ended up with seven Wanamaker Mile triumphs (a record since broken by Bernard Lagat), and is called “The Chairman of the Boards,” a reference to the hard wooden track that was then used at the Millrose Games.  He was the N.C.A.A. mile champion both indoors and outdoors in 1975, the year he set the European mile record (3.53.3), and repeated his indoor triumph in 1976.  He won his first Wanamaker Mile in 1977 (4:00.2) in the slowest time he ever ran to win that event.  Coghlan repeated in 1979 (3:55.0), 1980, 1981 (3:53.0), 1983, 1985, and 1987, and then returned for a master’s mile at Millrose in 1993.  In Feb. 1983, he set the world indoor record in the mile at the Meadowlands with a 3:49.78 mark that was also his personal best in the event.  During the peak of his career, Coghlan won 52 of 70 races indoors at the mile or 1,500 meters, running principally for the New York Athletic Club. He won the Olympic Invitation at the Meadowlands in 1983, 1985 (3:52.37) and 1987, during which time the event was known as the Coghlan Meadowlands Mile.  He was also A.A.U. national indoor champion in the mile in 1978 (4:01.6), 1983 (3:58.5) and 1987 (3:59.25).  In 1983, Coghlan was the world champion at 5,000 meters and ran a 2:25.10 in the 1991 New York City Marathon.  He remains the only person age 40 or above to run a sub-4:00 mile.

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The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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