Aided by a new high school which permits an excellent opportunity to hold dual meet early in the season and for cindermen to work out all season long, the track picture at Brainerd high school is on the up-swing despite the lack of an outdoor track worthy of the name.
Roosevelt Field, long shy of the cinders which once could help a budding runner, had been the scene of few meets in recent years.
Brainerd had its greatest cinder successes under the guidance of Ben Taylor, who guided his thinclads to seven straight District 24 crowns (1932-38); regional championships in five of those seasons, a third in the state meet in 1933 and a second in 1938.
In addition, he came up with the only Warrior ever to win an individual title, a name which stayed in the district, regional and state record books a long time: Jim McClearie, who won the state 100-yard dash in 1933 in the time of 9.9, a mark which has not been erased.
To be sure, it has been tied six times, most recently by Mark Lutz of Rochester Mayo, who did it in 1969 and again in 1970; but MeClearie, who never tasted defeat (1932 through 1934) while running the 100 and 220, did not have the advantage of starting blocks or Tartan tracks in those days.
At the time he set the state mark, his senior year, McClearie tied the national record. He didn't claim all of the track limelight in 1933, however, as William (Hoop) Smith pole vaulted his way to a second place in the state event and Brainerd wound up claiming third place in the meet.
The Warriors did even better in 1938, nearby winning the championship. Minneapolis West beat them out by a single point, 16 to 15, as Frank Little took a second in the high hurdles and a third in the discus.
The first Warrior track coach, Warren Kasch, operated under the disadvantage of having no track to work out on in the late 20's. Taylor changed that after his first two seasons here.
He built a high interest with his great love of the sport. Taylor had just missed making the U.S. Olympic team as a hurdler, finishing third in the deciding race of the qualifications with only the first two finishers receiving the coveted berths.
Taylor stayed on as coach of the sport through 1947, but the Warriors didn't again dominate the district until Bob Miller, who took over in 1949, brought about championships in five of six seasons (1951-56).
Brace Melin, now at St. Cloud Apollo, was succeeded by Don Thompson, last year and Thompson who moved on to Brainerd juror college, really let the district know that the Warriors are going to be hard to handle as they scored 104 points to break a three-year domination by Wadena, which was runnerup with 36 points.
Miller's strongest team was his 1951 edition, which tallied 60 1-3 points, the highest total ever to win the district until Wadena registered 67 1/2 in 1953 and managed 77 and 70 in 1968 and 1969.
Leading that array were Jerry Hill and Jim Smith, who combined for 20 1/4 and 22 points each. Hill won the discus, the 100 and 220, anchored the winning 880 relay team and was second in the shot put, while Smith took the shot put, the high jump, the high hurdles, was second in the discus and third in the broad jump.
The following year, Hill set a discus record in every meet he entered, climaxing it with a 148 feet, six inch flip to win the regional. The mark was seven feet better than that of any other regional winner, but in the state meet, he was forced to use a different platter and ended in fourth place.
Until Chuck Miller, son of the former Brainerd track mentor, came through with a second in the high hurdles last spring, the Warriors failed to land a cinderman that high in the state meet as Moorhead has dominated the sport in Region Six since first taking over in 1955.
Miller, now a freshman at the University of Minnesota on a track scholarship, had the best marks in the state in both the high (14.5) and low hurdles (19.2) during the regular season; but he was beaten out by an older Swiss exchange student in the highs and finished fourth in the lows after knocking over a hurdle.
Both of McClearie's 1932 standards, 9.8 in the 100 and 22.1 in the 220, still stand as school records. Others include a 151-foot throw in the discus and 11 - 9 pole vault by Dale Brown in 1961, 52.3 in the 440 by G. Larson in 1963, 1:59.8 in the half mile by Italian exchange student Rino Braggio in 1965, 4:40.3 mile by Dick Ungerecht (1961) who died in Vietnam, a 11:21.7 in the two-mile run by Paul Ruff in 1966, Miller's marks in the hurdles, a 20-9 long jump by Kevin Stunek in 1969, a 5-10 1/2 high jump this season by Leo Marchel, Jr., and a 50-11 shot put by Bruce Gross in 1964.
More help in the distance runs is expected from a steadily-improving cross country team, which made the state tourney field for the first time last fall by wresting district and regional laurels away from Staples under Coach Paul Vrudny.
Everett Anderson won the district three-mile in 16:20 and Brainerd scored 20 points to 49 for Little Falls and 90 for Sta-ples. Then in the regional at Melrose Oct. 24, Curt Arey was sixth and Gary Koop eighth to lead Brainerd to a 50 to 60 point win over Melrose with Little Falls third with 96 counters.
In the state meet, Brainerd was 13th of 19 teams entered. Running besides Anderson, Arey and Koop were Rick Kummet, Brian Rosvold, Rod Baakkonen and Paul Ruff.
Reproduced from the Centennial Edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1871-1971).