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Capital Fails

By Roy Gault, Sports Editor,
Corvallis, Gazette-Times, 1974.
The Capital Fails

Oregon State University is supposed to be the high jump capital of the world.

No other university or city contests that claim.

After all, Dick Fosbury won the Olympic Gold medal in 1968 and won three NCAA championships - two outdoors and one indoors. He revolutionized the event.

Tom Woods added another NCAA championship in 1972 and this year won the national AAU indoor title. At the NCAA indoor championships Woods placed second to an OSU teammate, Mike Fleer.

No other school, city or nation has turned out three 7-4 high jumpers (Fosbury, Woods and John Redetich), and no other university has had five seven-foot jumpers (Steve Kelly has a best of 7-0 and Fleer has cleared 7-3).

All of OSU's seven-foot jumpers but Kelly used the Fosbury Flop technique. Radetich cleared seven feet using both the western roll and the flop and is the only man in the world to have done so.

OSU Coach Berny Wagner has a reputation for being able to take any good straddle-style high jumper and tack six inches onto his lifetime best by converting him to a flopper.

No Surprise

It came as no surprise when Joni Huntley of Sheridan, the American women's record holder with the Fosbury Flop style, decided she will enroll at OSU next fall.

Her coach is Glen Stone, a 6-10 OSU jumper who has been overshadowed by OSU's horde of seven-footers. Huntley has cleared 6-0 3/4.

All of this is to establish that Woods and Fleer, who were the best collegiate high jumpers all spring, were clear-cut favorites in the 1974 NCAA championships last weekend at Austin, Tex.

Ed Lipscomb won the NCAA title for OSU in the pole vault, Jim Judd won the javelin and the Beavers placed fifth as a team.

But Wagner couldn't truthfully say he was happy.

Woods placed fourth in the meet and Fleer failed to make the finals.

"It was a good trip and we did well, but I'm definitely disappointed that we didn't win the high jump," Wagner said. "It's kind of a pride thing."

Woods and Fleer were unable to adjust to a downhill approach to the high jump bar.

The meet was held on the University of Texas football field, and the high jump pit was located in one end zone. The field sloped downward towards the goal line as all football fields do.

The downhill approach - on AstroTurf - caused Woods and Fleer to approach the bar at a faster rate of speed than normal and it caused them to start their jumps too close to the bar.

Fleer failed to clear 7-0 in the preliminaries, a height which he has missed only twice all season.

Could Have Helped

Wagner was in an NCAA Rules Committee meeting while Fleer was having his difficulties.

"I never dreamed he wouldn't make seven feet," Wagner said. "I really feel I could have helped him if I had been there."

Woods negotiated the downhill run successfully in the finals until the bar went to 7-2. He cleared 7-0 and 7-1 on his fires jumps and led the event on fewer misses until the bar went to 7-2.

Comment:  There is more to this article, but this is all I have.