Hornet Track - History

-- Jim Jackson -- Meet of Champions, 1954 -- State Track Records --

...Alameda Sprinter Rates with Greatest Prep Runners...

Staff Report
Alameda Times Star
Monday, May 24, 1954 

Just where James Jackson, the fleet-footed Alameda High School speedster, who equaled Jesse Owens' 21-year-old mark of :09.4 fits into the list of all-time great prep sprinters cannot be determined until after the California state meet next Saturday.

But a scanning of the record books and a comparison of results of the recent college relays will serve as a temporary yardstick to measure his greatness. Here is how Jackson rates today, and he still has one more big chance to reach his high school potential.

1. Back in 1933, Jesse Owens, as a young athlete representing East Technical High School of Columbus, Ohio, showed the first signs of greatness he later achieved by winning three Olympic championships in 1936 to gain track and field immortality by running the 100 in :09.4. That was 21-years ago. Every year since, great high school sprinters from all 48 states have tried to better that mark but it remained for Jackson to equal it Saturday.

2. Back in 1932, Bob Kiesel, running for the University of California, set the record for Edwards stadium by clicking off the 100 in :09.5. The mark has withstood the onslaughts of several generations of university sprinters, not only from California but all the leading colleges in the country, as Edwards Stadium has been the scene of Pacific Coast Conference, Big Ten, National AAU and NCAA sprinters.

3. If any further yardstick is needed to measure the speed of Jackson it might be wise to place it against the times clocked for the recent college relays across the country. These relays usually attracted all the top college sprinters just as they are rounding into their best form. Here's the times for the 100:   Drake, :09.7; Kansas, :09.6; Texas, :09.6; Penn, :09.8; Fresno, :09.6; Los Angeles Coliseum, :09.6; and Modesto, :09.7.    Jackson's mark would have brought him down to the tape ahead of the top college runners in all of these relays.

EQUALS JESSE OWENS' RECORD - James Jackson, Alameda High School sprinter, made athletic history on Saturday during the North Coast Section CIF meet at Edwards Stadium, He ran the 100 yards in :09.4 to equal the national high school record set 21-years ago by the famous Jesse Owens when he was a student at East Technical High School in Columbus.

However, lest one gather the impression that Jackson should breeze to victory on Saturday, it should be pointed out that Delano's Leamon King who beat Jackson by a foot in the Fresno relays, and Santa Ana's Bill Swisshelm, who has been burning up the cinderpaths in Southern California, will also toe the starting blocks in the State meet.

(NOTE: We checked, Jackson won the State meet with a 9.6, Leamon was second with a 9.7 and Swisshelm took 3rd with a 9.9.)

Alameda's successful defense of its NCS championship with an impressive 49 points was almost lost on the shuffle of reporting the great individual performances of the day.

Besides his 100, Jackson broke Herb Turner's 220 NCS mark in 21.0 and ran the anchor lap on the Alameda relay team including Hosea Harper, Willie Davis and Bob Thompson when it ran 1:28.4 to set another mark.

Richard Cobb of Alameda leaped to second place in the broad jump to get the Hornets some surprise points. Harper chased Richmond's X.L. Emerson in the 48.9 quarter mile. Davis, the basketball player, placed second in the 100 and 220. Joe Griffin broke the 120 high hurdles mark in the morning (but just barely qualified when a shin splint cramped his style) and Thompson placed in the high hurdles.

Alameda Hornets Track Team
1954 State Champions

Back Row:
L. Nikolai, B. Michaels, W. Davis, F. Carrol, D. Majors

3rd Row:
C. Dietrick, Coach Jolley, T. Murphy, A. Hoffman, M. Hunt, H. Harper, M. Tymm, J. Sparks, 
M. Newell, M. Weldon, P. Kapler

2nd Row:
T. Oliver, J. Jackson (circled), R. Cobb, O. Pierre, P. Perata, 
Y. Sheriff, W. Tamborski
Front Row:
R. Thompson, R., Andriese, W. Floyd, J. Griffin, H. Evans, L. Alston, 
C. Washington, J. Jett, W. Hyde

Meet of Champions - May 29, 1954
Preps Upshaw, Jackson led the way against future track stars

By Dave Newhouse,
Staff Writer - Oakland Tribune
November 20, 2003   
(companion article)

NEARLY 50 years later, there hasn't ever been a California state track and field championships to match the amazing talent assembled at Cal's Edwards Stadium on May 29, 1954.

There was Don Bowden, America's first 4-minute miler.

There was Charlie Dumas, the world's first 7-foot high jumper.

There was Rafer Johnson, the 1960 Olympic decathlon champion.

There was Rink Babka, a future world record-holder in the discus.

There was Leamon King, who tied the world 100-yard dash record at 9.3 seconds.

But two other athletes in that 36th state meet stole the show -- two teenagers who were never any better.

They were Monte Upshaw of Piedmont and James Jackson of Alameda, both of whom took on the legend of Jesse Owens with spectacular results.

Jackson had tied Jesse Owens' national prep 100-yard dash record of 9.4 in the trials the day before. Jackson then won the 100 and 220 finals in 9.6 and 21.2, beating King by a yard in both sprints. Jackson also anchored the Hornets' winning 880-yard relay team, which earned Alameda the state title -- the first Northern California school ever to win.

Upshaw broke Owens' national high school long-jump record, also set in 1933, by jumping 25-41/4 -- the first prep to reach 25 feet. Upshaw then edged Johnson in the 180-yard low hurdles, but Johnson beat Upshaw in the 120-yard highs.

"That was a fantastic meet," recalled Bowden, who won the 880-yard run that day in a state-record 1:52.9. "But the standout was Monte. Magnificent Monte Upshaw. I didn't believe one guy could do all that."

Ernest Upshaw, Monte's father, placed a handkerchief in the sand pit at 25-5 as incentive. "I knew Monte wanted to break 25-feet," the father was quoted in the Oakland Tribune. "I told him the handkerchief was at 25-3, and I told him to try and hit it."

Upshaw cleared it and history was made. His jump was the third longest in the nation that year and fifth best in the world.

"I had done a 24-91/2 at the North Coast Section the week before -- it's still a record -- so 25 feet was in reach," Upshaw said recently. "That's all I thought about. I was really hitting my stride. I felt very fast. I was clocked at 9.7 in the 100 in a meet. In relays, I'd always close on Jimmy Jackson."

Piedmont competed against Alameda, so Upshaw ran against Jackson, who went to school, practiced track, then worked in an elevator all night.

"He had all that natural talent," Upshaw said of Jackson. "He was gifted."

So was Upshaw, who scored all 14 points for Piedmont in that state meet for a second-place finish. Alameda won with 19 points. Jackson was directly responsible for 15. Joe Griffin and Dick Cobb had fourths in the high hurdles and long jump for the Hornets' other points.

Then there was Johnson, who had switched from the sprints and high jump at Kingsburg High to the hurdles and long jump because his coach, Murl Dodson, felt he had decathlon potential. A wise coach.

"I was so impressed with Monte Upshaw, and the way he competed those two days," Johnson said this week. "I was really a neophyte in those events, but I could compete. And I became a better competitor."

Johnson won the highs in Berkeley at 14.3, with Upshaw timed at 14.5. In the lows, though Upshaw won, they both were clocked at 19.0.

"Rafer was something else," said Upshaw. "I'd be able to get ahead of people except Rafer. He's the best competitor I ever faced, and he was just getting started."

Upshaw and Bowden defended their state long jump and 880 titles before a crowd of 12,000 at Edwards. Earlier that year, Bowden, from Lincoln of San Jose, set a national prep record of 1:52.3.

"I'd get out early and run, and I didn't have many people chasing me down," said Bowden, who won the 1954 state meet by three seconds.

Three other Northern Californians tri-umphed that day. Dick Dailey of Hayward jumped 6-51/2 to beat Dumas, who cleared 7 feet two years later. Stan Gaunt of Mt. Diablo in Concord finished in a three-way tie in the pole vault. And Babka of Palo Alto won the college exhibition discus with a state record throw of 148-23/4.

"A lot of those guys became good friends of mine," said Johnson. "Those are times that I look back on fondly."

High School Turned Out to be Best Times for Two Athletes
Oakland Tribune
November 20, 2003

What happened to Monte Shaw and James Jackson, two potential Olympians in track and field, whose flame burned out in High School.

Jackson who hand-delivered Alameda High the 1954 state track title, ran a year in junior college, joined the Air Force and disappeared from the track scene.

Upshaw's story was sadder.  A standout on Cal's freshman track team, he tore cartilage in his right knee long-jumping in a meet.  He did the very same things as a sophomore, ending his chances of setting a world record.  "I watched the (1956) Olympic Trials from my hospital bed," he said.

For Upshaw though, coming down from his high school greatness at Piedmont wasn't a hard fall.  "It was almost a relief," he said.  "How do you act with all that attention?  I didn't work that hard at all at track.  It just came naturally.  It's what I did after school."

Upshaw turned from the long jump and hurdles to sprints, where his best finishes were second and thirds.  He didn't receive a Big C until his junior year.

"Monte could have quit, given up," said Don Bowden, Upshaw's Cal teammate.  "He hung in there and stayed a part of the team, even though he could have been the star of the team.  I really admire him for that."

Jesse Owens (East Technical, Cleveland, Ohio) set the National Interscholastic Record of 9.4 in the 100-yard dash at the Chicago Interscholastic Meet at Chicago, Illinois, on June 17, 1933. Owens was born in Danville, Alabama on September 12, 1913. Age at time of record: 19 years 9 months. Jim Jackson (Alameda) tied the record in a heat at the North Coast Section meet at Berkeley on May 22, 1954. Jackson was born in Portland, Arkansas on June 2, 1935. Age at time of record: 18 years 11 months.]