Saluki Sports Update
f you’ve been a regular reader of this column, you may recall that we’ve occasionally complained about “changes.”
It even upsets us to be so old-fashioned as to moan about some of today’s practices and be so eager to refer to “the good old days.”
Nevertheless, here we go again. Due to our limited skills with today’s technology, we can’t always find results of SIU’s so-called “minor sports” as easily and as quickly as we prefer.
We’re referring to SIU’s sports program and specifically the Salukis’ track and field happenings.
Having started at SIU on Aug. 2, 1960, precisely one day after a guy by the name of Lew Hartzog took over as coach of the Salukis’ men track and field team, we immediately became a fan of the sport. No, I should say a strong fan.
In the event you never had the privilege of knowing Hartzog, there was only one level of anything and everything with the Texas-born character. It was “all-out.”
Hartzog hardly knew Carbondale’s street names before he talked a couple of Englishmen, Bill Cornell and Brian Turner, to enroll at SIU and become national standouts in this country for the next four years.
Oh, there were several others who followed them from Barbados and Canada. Others from Marion, Herrin, Murphysboro, Sparta, Harrisburg and even Valier.
All – John Saunders, Jim Gualdoni, Tom Ashman, Harold Bardo, Parry Duncan and Ted Farmer – became champions.
In fact, one story is an accurate preview of what was to follow.
It was Hartzog’s first season, 1961, and it was SIU’s turn to host the Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship meet.
The Salukis had finished last the previous year, scoring 13 2/3 points. The Salukis won in 1961 with 60-plus points, 14 more than the runner-up team.
It was a preview of things to come as SIU changed its scheduling practices from area dual meets to the finest national relays, like Drake, Kansas and Texas, in the country.
It was easy to become a Saluki track fan even though SIU’s other spring sports were also enjoying championship seasons at the same time.
Hartzog simply had a style that transformed somewhat mediocre athletes into champions and if not blue-ribbon winners, at least major point winners.
An example was in 1961 when SIU placed fourth in the NCAA behind Oregon, Villanova and Southern Cal. Jim Dupree won the 880-yard run while Turner and Cornell had seconds in the mile and two-mile runs.
It set the pattern for Saluki teams to follow for more than the next 20 years.
And, we’re hardly overlooking other teams that followed and are still having success, perhaps not at the same level as Hartzog’s teams, but at more regionally located events.
We’re just struggling to keep up with results and are well aware that it’s our own fault. Simply our shortcomings as we try to overcome the thing called “technology” and “things change.”