More than a few jaws dropped around the state when Texas Monthly magazine’s December 1999 issue hit the newsstand.
Its cover story was titled “The Best of the Texas Century,” with pony-tailed Willie Nelson (Entertainer of the Century), track star Carl Lewis (Athlete of the Century) and computer mogul Michael Dell (Entrepreneur of the Century) looking wistfully into the sunset. On the pages that followed, the often irreverent and always creative magazine staff bestowed honors on what it considered the Role Model (Barbara Jordan), Scoundrel (a tie between James E. Ferguson and his wife, Miriam), Mayor (Henry Cisneros), Actor (Sissy Spacek), Movie (Giant), Basketball Player (Sheryl Swoopes), Rassler (Fritz Von Erich), Preacher (W.A. Criswell), TV Show (Dallas), and Salesman (Mary Kay Ash) of the Texas Century, among many other categories.
On page 150 was a photo of 1958 ACU graduate Bobby Morrow and the explanation of writer Joe Nick Patoski regarding why Wildcat track and field was the magazine’s choice as Texas sports Dynasty of the soon-to-be-completed Century. Not the wildly popular Dallas Cowboys whose stadium in Irving had a hole in the roof – in the words former linebacker D.D. Lewis – “so God can watch his favorite team play,” (and still does over in Arlington these days, although He may not be as pleased with their recent performance). They were named the magazine’s Team of the Century.
Instead, it was “little Abilene Christian,” which has ruled NCAA Division II track and field for decades, crowned by Texas Monthly as king of Lone Star State sports royalty.
Each day this week we’ll take a look at ACU’s Olympic tradition. The Games of the XXX Olympiad, with Opening Ceremonies this Friday night in London, will take place July 25 – Aug. 12.
The Olympic Games have been a great stage through the years for Wildcat track and field talent. Two women who will be new ACU student-athletes this fall are competing in this summer’s Olympics on their nation’s 4×100 relay teams: Reyare Thomas (Trinidad and Tobago) and Elea Mariama Diarra (France). Watch for their competition Aug. 9-11.
Former ACU track and field coach Bill McClure, a 1948 ACU graduate who served as president of the U.S. Track and Field Federation, was an assistant coach on the 1972 U.S. Olympic team in Munich, Germany. Garner Roberts (’70), ACU’s sports information director for more than 25 years, was assistant press chief for track and field and opening/closing ceremonies at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Both are in the ACU Sports Hall of Fame.
The 37 Wildcats with Olympic track and field experience:
1956 (Melbourne, Australia) – Bobby Morrow, 100, 200 and 4×100 relay, United States (3 gold medals)
1960 (Rome, Italy) – Earl Young, 400, 4×400 relay, United States (1 gold medal)
1964 (Tokyo, Japan) – Billy Pemelton, pole vault, United States
1980 (Moscow, Soviet Union) – Albert Lawrence, 4×100 relay, Jamaica
1984 (Los Angeles) – Tim Bright, decathlon, United States; Albert Lawrence, 4×100 relay, Jamaica (1 silver medal); Greg Meghoo, 4×100 relay (1 silver medal), Jamaica; and Joe Ramotshabi, 400, 800, Botswana
1988 (Seoul, South Korea) – Tim Bright, decathlon, United States; Billy Olson, pole vault, United States; Ian Morris, 400, Trinidad and Tobago; Greg Meghoo, 4×100 relay, Jamaica; Chris Faulknor, 4×100 relay, Jamaica; James Browne, long jump, Antigua and Barbuda; and Ahmed Shata, shot put, Egypt
1992 (Barcelona, Spain) – Tim Bright, pole vault, United States; Mark Witherspoon, 100, United States; Ian Morris, 400, 4×100 relay, Trinidad and Tobago; and Freddie Williams, 800, 4×400, Canada
1996 (Atlanta, Ga.) – Joseph Styles, 4×100, Bahamas; Sayon Cooper, 100, Liberia; Robert Guy, 400, Trinidad and Tobago; Andy Kokhanovsky, discus, Ukraine; and Savieri Ngidhi, 800, Zimbabwe
2000 (Sydney, Australia) – Eric Thomas, 400 hurdles, United States; Nic Alexander, 100, 4×100 relay, Trinidad and Tobago; Sayon Cooper, 100, 200, 4×100 relay, Liberia; Jose Meneses, 4×100 relay, Guatemala; Oscar Meneses, 100, 4×100 relay, Guatemala; and Julieon Raeburn, 200, 4×100 relay, Trinidad and Tobago, Andrew Reyes, 4×100 relay, Liberia
2004 (Athens, Greece) – Nic Alexander, 100, 4×100 relay, Trinidad and Tobago; and Christie VanWyk, 100, Namibia
2008 (Beijing, China) – Richard Phillips, 110 hurdles, Jamaica
1984 (Los Angeles, Calif.) – Sonya Smith, javelin, Bermuda
1988 (Seoul, South Korea) – Yolande Straughn, 200, Barbados; Prisca Phillip, 200, 400, Barbados; and Bigna Samuel, 400, 1500, Saint Vincent
1996 (Atlanta, Ga.) – Tracey Barnes, 100, Jamaica; Mary Tombiri-Shirey, 100, 4×100, Nigeria; and Hermin Joseph, 100, Dominica
2000 (Sydney) – Louise Ayotetche, 100, 200, Ivory Coast; and Delloreen Ennis-London, 100 hurdles, Jamaica
2004 (Athens, Greece) – Delloreen Ennis-London, 100 hurdles, Jamaica; and Wanda Hutson, 4×100 relay, Trinidad and Tobago
2008 (Beijing, China) – Delloreen Ennis-London, 100 hurdles, Jamaica; and Wanda Hutson, 4×100 relay, Trinidad and Tobago
Other posts in this series: