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ACU Remembers: Bill Woodhouse

Bill Woodhouse 500x790Bobby Morrow (’58) has deservedly received accolades too numerous to count for his performances on the track at Abilene Christian University in the 1950s. But he ran with other talented Wildcats on the multiple world record relay teams that made headlines. One of them was Bill Woodhouse (’59), who died yesterday at age 77 in Corpus Christi, Texas.

At 5-8 and 155 pounds, Woodhouse was an atypical physical specimen, as his head coach, Oliver Jackson (’42) described in 1959 in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram story:

“If I was going to shoot a sprinter, Bill Woodhouse would be the last man in the crowd I’d aim at. He looks like a running guard on a Class B single-wing team – short and squatty – and anything but the way you would picture a sprinter. As a matter of fact, I took him sight unseen upon the recommendation of Drake (University) track coach Tommy Deckard, and when he got off that train I said to myself that if he ever ran as fast as 10.2 I’d be surprised.”

But surprise he did, becoming the eighth sprinter to run 9.3 in the 100-yard dash and tie a world record – joining others from Oregon, Southern California, Northwestern, California, Duke, San Jose State and ACU (Morrow) – when he recorded that time at a meet in Abilene on May 5, 1959.

Bobby Morrow, Bill Woodhouse, James Segrest and ______ were a world-record-setting 440-yard relay team at Abilene Christian.
Bobby Morrow (’58), Bill Woodhouse (’59), James Segrest (’59) and Waymond Griggs (’58) were a world-record-setting relay team at Abilene Christian.

He ran a wind-aided 9.1 in the 100 (the third person ever to do that) during a quadrangular meet April 18, 1959, in Abilene between ACU, North Texas, Texas Tech and Arizona State, the same day he became the second runner to ever run below 20 seconds (19.9) in the 200-yard-dash.

Woodhouse was a member of the ACU Sports Hall of Fame, Drake Relays Hall of Fame and Penn Relays Wall of Fame. The latter honor came in 2004, when he was inducted with 10-time Olympic medalist Carl Lewis, four-time Olympians Joetta Clark and 1941 Sullivan Award (honoring the top U.S. amateur athlete) winner Les MacMitchell. He won four Penn Relays titles as a Wildcat.
See more details of Woodhouse’s remarkable career. A memorial service for him is planned for Jan. 14 at Seaside Funeral Home (4357 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas 78412, 361-992-9411).