Track and field events began at Brown in 1878, when the Athletic Association held the first Field Day. The events were a rope pull between the Classes of 1879 and 1880, the standing broad jump, the running broad jump, the standing high jump, the running high jump, the shot put, the hundred yards dash, the three-legged race, the wheelbarrow race, and the base ball throw. The spring meet added the five mile run, the quarter-mile run, the hammer throw, the hurdles, a sack race, and a potato race. The New England Intercollegiate Association was organized in 1887, and held its first meet on May 27 of that year. In the 1890 meet, Fred Hovey 1890 took second in the pole vault and E. A. Barrows 1891 won the high jump with five feet five inches.
Frederick Marvel 1890 recalled the informality of track practice, “Brown students used what was known as the Sanitary Gymnasium on Aborn street, and the more zealous individuals did attain a fair measure of conditioning work for the few and infrequent tests of the time. We ran around the Middle Campus in those days when we wanted to practice running, and every man had to make a long or short jump over the wet ground around the pump, according to the size of the area at that particular moment.” In March of 1891 an indoor meet was held in Sayles Hall, with the Sanitary Gymnasium, the Y.M.C.A., and the Narragansett Boat Club members as participants. Ed Weeks 1893 won the 25-yard dash and Everett A. Bowen 1892 the 600. Frank Sexton 1893 won the mile walk in 8 minutes 8 seconds, and G. N. Richmond 1892 won the mile in 5:35. In the big event of the meet, the class relay, Marvel, running anchor for the freshmen, passed senior runner E. A. Barrows in the final stage of the race, flew off at a tangent to the track in the final turn, and knocked President Andrews off his chair at the sidelines. Andrews’ comment to the future athletic director of the University was, “Never mind, son, you won the race.”
David C. Hall ’01, captain of the track team for three years, won the New England championship in the mile twice and held the NEAAU ten-mile title for four years. He finished third in the 800-metres in the 1900 Olympics. At the New England Intercollegiate Athletic Association annual meet in 1902, Brown came in third of eight colleges after Amherst and Dartmouth, having placed first, second, and third in the two-mile bicycle race and scored in the one- and two-mile runs and the discus throw. In the 1904 NEIAA meet, Brown finished third, although for financial reasons only five men went to Worcester. Richard Tucker ’05 won both the mile and the two-mile, and Charles Ehmke ’05 won the discus and was third in the shot put. Also in 1904, Brown held the first of the Brown University Interscholastic Track Association annual meets for area high school and business college athletes. In 1905 a new board running track, nine feet wide and about fourteen laps to the mile, occupied the space between the Colgate Hoyt Pool and the Thayer Street fence. Brown was second in the 1906 NEIAA meet, Tucker again winning the mile and two mile and John Mayhew ’09 the running broad jump. About a week earlier in a meet with Syracuse, Captain Arthur Wright ’06 had won the two-mile, and fell back in the mile to allow Tucker to finish first. A track coach, Hugh C. McGrath, who was a graduate of Boston University, was hired in 1907. That year the team came in second in the New England Intercollegiates through a team effort in which Brown men won points in ten out of fourteen events. McGrath came back again in the spring of 1909 after a year’s absence. Track was not a high priority. The 1910 Liber Brunensis called to mind “the same old story that has been told for years about Brown track athletics, – a story which has for its chief and never-ending theme, ‘Lack of money.’” In the spring of 1911 the Athletic Board voted to secure a regular coach. Edward J. O’Connor from Bates College was hired and coached until 1914. In the very successful indoor season of 1912 the relay team was undefeated. In the spring season Brown won the triangular meet with Trinity and W.P.I., taking twelve of fourteen first places, and finished second in the New England Intercollegiates, and Norman Taber ’13 tied for first with John Paul Jones of Cornell in the IC4A’s mile. Another star of that team, Arthur Bartlett ’14, had already broken all three of Brown’s weight records – the hammer, discus, and shot, all in his freshman year. He went on to break the New England shot put record. In 1913 Brown finished second again in the New Englands, and Taber set new New England records in the mile and half-mile. Archie Hahn, who won three medals in the 1904 Olympics, coached from 1915 to 1920, and Brown came in second in the New Englands in 1917, 1918, and 1920. In 1928 John Collier ’29 set a new record in the 120-yard high hurdles in the New Englands, and finished second in that event in the IC4A’s. In his senior year he finished first in the 120-yard high hurdles and the 220-yard low hurdles in the New Englands, and first in the 120-yard high hurdles in the IC4A’s. In 1933 Thomas Gilbane ’33 won an IC4A championship in the shot put.
The coaches after Archie Hahn were Alfred W. Haddleton, who had coached at Providence Technical High School and Moses Brown School and filled in at Brown in 1920-21, James E. Smith 1892 from 1921 to 1923, John Frederick Powers, former Notre Dame track star and coach at Worcester Academy, from 1924 to 1938, and Malcolm Williams from 1938 to 1941. George Anderson began coaching in 1941, but left for the Navy in 1942, and was replaced by Roland K. Brown, who coached from 1942 until 1944, with football coach Neil “Skip” Stahley designated as acting coach during those years. Another football coach, Charles A. “Rip” Engle, was named coach in 1944. Carl S. Hector coached in 1945.
When Ivan Fuqua, a member of the record-breaking 1600-meter relay team in the 1932 Olympics and former coach at the University of Connecticut, came to Brown in 1946, he was assured that a new field house and track would soon be built. Before this happened he had to leave, retiring in 1974. Fuqua’s teams won New England track and field titles in 1949, 1960, and 1961. Individual stars included 1947 and 1948 NAAU hammer throw champion and 1948 Olympic team member Bob Bennett ’48, NAAU 40-yard champion Bill Dwyer ’48, national high jump champion Dick Phillips ’50 (who won the IC4A, NCAA, and NAAU championships in 1949), and Gil Borjeson ’52, who in consecutive weeks in his junior year won both the NAAU and the IC4A shot put titles, and was NCAA hammer throw champion in 1952.
In 1973 the Heptagonals were held at Brown for the first time in twenty years. In 1975 Brown came within one-tenth of a second of an undefeated season when the team lost to Dartmouth in the final event of the dual meet, the mile relay which Dartmouth won, 3:17.7 to Brown’s 3:17.8, for a final score of Dartmouth 78, Brown 76. In the 1988 NCAA track and field championships Greg Whiteley ’89 placed third in the 5,000 meters and Chris Schille ’88 finished seventh in the 10,000 meters.
Doug Terry followed Fuqua in 1974. He resigned in the fall of 1984. Bob Rothenberg ’65 was named coordinator of track and men’s cross country in May 1983 and director of track and cross country for men and women in 1987.
Cross country running made an informal appearance around the turn of the century, although it was pointed out in the fall of 1903 that these “runs” were held for exercise, and not to develop material for the track team. In January 1906 the Brown Alumni Monthly announced, “Cross country running has become firmly fixed as a fall sport at Brown. In the final contest the prize cups for first and second places were won by J. H. Wells ’09, with 4 1/2 minutes handicap, and A. L. Wright ’06, scratch.... The best actual time was made by A. L. Wright ’06, 22m. 48s., over a course of four and one-half miles.” Brown was able to get together a cross-country team in 1910 under the training of Charlie Huggins. Manager John E. Hinckley ’11 reported in the 1911 Liber Brunensis:
“For the first time in the history of athletics at Brown, last fall the University was represented by a cross-country team. In years past, Brown has occasionally had individual point winners in various cross-country meets, but never before has she been able to send out an organized team. Soon after the opening of college, a squad of some ten or a dozen men began a little cross-country work, although no actual training was done until the 1st of October, when it was announced that a triangular race between M.I.T., Tufts and Brown had been scheduled. In the week that remained to get into condition, the men did their hardest work of the season, and on November 4 a squad of eight men, under the leadership of Captain Roper, left for Brookline. The race was over the regular M.I.T. four and a quarter mile course, starting in Roxbury and ending by a quarter-mile sprint on the track at Technology Field. The Brown team scored an unlooked-for victory, winning the meet by a safe margin; the final score being: Brown 29, M.I.T. 34, Tufts 85. N. S. Taber ’13 won first place, passing Davis of Tech in the last two hundred yards by a remarkably strong sprint. The race was won in 25 minutes, 26 1/2 seconds, which was very good time considering that the runners were obliged to face a driving rain storm.”In the second season of cross-country running in 1911, what heralded by the Brown Daily Herald as the “first meet of its kind ever held in Providence” took place between Brown and M.I.T. on November 15 on a newly laid out course of four and one-half miles from Andrews Field through the East Side to the Seekonk River, around York Pond, and back to the Field. M.I.T. defeated Brown by a close score of 40-45. In November 1912 Brown defeated the Massachusetts Agricultural College, taking the first five places, came in second after Dartmouth in the New England Collegiate run, and was fourth in a six-mile run at Cornell entered by ten colleges. In the only dual meets held in the next two years Brown defeated the Massachusetts Agricultural College 19-41 in 1913 and Worcester Polytechnic Institute 26-31 in 1914. Interest in cross country seems to have lapsed, but in 1922 the team, after an unsuccessful season of dual meets, came in sixth in the New England Intercollegiates. In 1924 John Frederick Powers, former Notre Dame track star and coach at Worcester Academy, began to coach the team, which endured several more losing seasons. Cross country was revived in 1946 under coach Ivan Fuqua, and the Brown team, led by Jon and Josh Tobey ’50, won all but one of the dual meets. The next year Brown again won all but one dual meet and came in fourth in the Heptagonals and fourteenth in the IC4A meet. 1956 was the best season (3-3) since 1949. Brown’s defeat of Dartmouth was the first victory over an Ivy opponent in cross country history at Brown. Ed Sullivan ’58 finished sixth in the annual Heptagonal Cross Country Championships in New York and second in the New England Cross Country Championships. The next year’s record was 4-2 in dual meets, and Sullivan won the Heptagonals with a sprained ankle. Brown’s first undefeated cross country team in 1960 defeated ten opponents for a 5-0 record, beating Yale for the first time, won the New Englands, came in third in the Heptagonals, and tenth in the IC4A’s. Captain Bob Lowe ’61 finished first in all five meets, set new records for Boston’s Franklin Park’s 4.2 mile course (19:30) and Providence College’s 4.5 mile course (21:29.3), finished first in the New Englands (for the second year), the Heptagonals, and the IC4A’s.
Ivan Fuqua’s teams won New England championships in 1960, 1962, and 1963. The 1962 team was sixth in the IC4A’s. In 1963 David Farley ’64 won both the IC4A indoor and outdoor mile, and led the team to a 7-1 record and a second New England title. In the late 1960s cross country began to go down hill until it hit its lowest level in 1982, when the minimum of five team members to send to a meet could not be assembled. When Bob Rothenberg ’65 took over in 1983, he had an inexperienced team and no place to go but up. In 1986 the cross county team had its best season in twenty years, thanks to star runners Chris Schille ’88 and Greg Whiteley ’89, and dependable David Alden ’87. The season saw Brown’s best records: second place in Ivy League with 5-2 in dual meets, sixth in the New Englands, fourth in the Heptagonals, and sixteenth in the IC4A’s. In 1987 Brown, running as a team in the NCAA’s for the first time since 1963, finished ninth, the best place ever attained by a Brown team. Rothenberg’s nine-year record from 1983 to 1991 was 42-18.
Women’s Track and Cross Country
In 1974 two women students, Karen Zaccor ’78 and Andrea Thach ’77, wanted to start track and cross country for women. They received the support of physical education director Arlene Gorton, and the teams were formed in 1975. Jonathan Hird ’74 MAT was the part-time coach for both teams until 1979. In the spring of 1978 the women’s track team, with a 4-1 dual meet record, became the first Brown women’s team to win an Ivy League championship. The next year the team came in second in the Ivy League in a meet held at Brown, and, with only eight runners, won the New New England championships. Brown won the New Englands for a second time in 1980. In 1979 Sirkka Liisa Williams became the first full time coach for the women’s teams. Sue Latter Addison coached for one year in 1981-82. Jon Hird returned in 1982 and coached until 1986. Teri Smith ’91 set indoor and outdoor records in the 200 meter dash in 1989, and in 1991 won the 200 and 400 meter dashes and anchored the relay team which set a new 1600 meter relay record. In 1990-91 the women’s team came in second of ten in both the indoor and outdoor Heptagonals. The 1992 team won the Heptagonal Women’s Indoor Championships. Coach Bob Rothenberg’s five-year record since 1986 was 25-5 (16-2 indoor and 9-3 outdoor).
In 1979 the women’s cross country team had a 7-2 dual meet record, won the Rhode Island championships, and came in fourth in the New England championships. Anne Sullivan ’82, Harvard’s first woman All-American, transferred to Brown in 1979, and set Ivy League records in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters at the outdoor championships in 1979, placed sixth in the 10,000 meters in the national outdoor track championships in 1979, eighteenth in the national cross country championships in 1980, fourth in the Olympic trials (10,000 meters) in 1980, and set a record in the indoor track American Collegiate three-mile in 1980. John Hird’s coaching record from 1979 to 1986 was 25-21. Mike Muska coached women’s cross country from 1987 to 1991 with a five year record of 20-10-1. Bob Rothenberg began coaching the cross-country team in 1992.