UT Track and Field History 1889-1971 – Chapter V: Southeastern Conference Days

In 1932 it became apparent that the Southern Conference was too large and unwieldy for good competition. A division along geographical lines was agreed on by representatives, and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) was formed consisting of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisiana State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Sewanee, Tennessee, Tulane, and Vanderbilt.

1933 Outdoor Track Season

Coach Bill Britton and Captain Ernie Clark guided the Tennessee trackmen through the 1933 season to four wins and only one defeat at the hands of Alabama. In the first SEC meet Chauncey Stout, who had been a Knoxville High School track star, won the mile in a record time of 4:22.7. Harold Wolfe won the half-mile also in a record time of 1:56.5. Herman Woodall placed third in the two-mile to complete Tennessee’s scoring.

1934 Outdoor Track Season

The 1934 track team, sparked by Nelson McCarroll’s record javelin throws of over 169 feet, opened with victories over Maryville and Davidson, a loss to Alabama, a victory over Kentucky, and then a smashing victory in the first Tennessee Intercollegiate Athletic Association (TIAA) meet that was limited to teams from the state. Against the TIAA opposition Will Pritchett pole vaulted 12’-0¼” for a new school record and Dave McPherson high jumped 6’-0 ¼” for another school record.

At the 1934 SEC Track Meet, Harry Anderson, who during the season had tied the school record with a 10.0 in the 100 yard dash and had set the school record with a 21.8 in the 220 yard dash, scored third and fourth place victories in the 100 and 200 yard dashes. Harold Wolfe ran the 880 in 1:55.8, breaking his own school record, for second place; Herman Woodall took second place in the two-mile; and Dave McPherson tied for fifth place in the high jump at 5’-11”. The mile relay team of A.B. Pugh, Barnett Sledge, Harold Wolfe, and Harry Anderson finished third.

1935 Outdoor Track Season

The Vols of Coach Britton and Captain Herman Woodall had another banner year in 1935. Victories over Davidson, Maryville, and Kentucky, the annual loss to Alabama, and a second victory in the TIAA highlighted the season.

In the 1935 SEC meet Harry Anderson finished second in the 100 yard dash with a 9.9 clocking and second in the broad jump at 22’-9¼” (both school records). Eli Ellis jumped 22’-8½” for a fourth place finish. Fifth place awards were won by Glenn Jeffries in the javelin with a 174’-3½” school record throw; Clarence Blackburn in the low hurdles; and William Maynard in the mile. The mile relay team also finished fifth.

The 1935 freshman team, better known as the “Rats”, broke every freshman school record and won their division in the SEC meet. Dan Pick ran 440 yards in 49.5 seconds for a school record and the mile relay team of Dan Pick, Ralph Overholt, Harry Epperson, and Red Harp ran a 3:23.3 for another record. The freshman relay time was only three-tenths of a second slower than the winning varsity time.

1936 Outdoor Track Season

Blair Gullion took over as track coach in 1936 and Harry Anderson was elected Captain of the team. The Vols compiled a 3-1 dual meet record, won the TIAA Meet, and finished 5th in the SEC meet. New school records were set by Clarence Blackburn (24.8 in the 220 low hurdles); Harry Anderson (9.6 in the 100, 21.7 in the 220, 6’-1” in the high jump, and 23.8 in the broad jump set during the summer of 1935); and Dan Pick (49.5 in the 440).

In the SEC Meet Harry Anderson was the high point man in the meet with 11 points as he finished second in the 220, third in the 100, third in the broad jump, and tied for fourth in the high jump. Dan Pick placed second in the 440 and Sam Hansard place third in the two-mile run. The mile relay team was third in the meet to complete the scoring.

Harry Anderson ended an amazing track career at the University of Tennessee with four school records and a total of 24 points in Southeastern Conference meets. (10)

1937 Outdoor Track Season

Captain Sam Hansard and Glenn Jeffries took the Vols only points in the 1937 SEC meet to climax a season that resulted in a fourth straight TIAA victory and a 2-2 dual meet record. Hansard placed fourth in the SEC two-mile and Jeffries hurled the javelin 192’-6” for second place.

1938 Outdoor Track Season

In his last season as head track coach Blair Gullion’s team again won the TIAA meet and two of three dual meets. Russell Curry pole vaulted 12’-5¼” against Maryville for a new school record and Captain Dan Pick won the half-mile with a blazing 1:54.7.

1939 Outdoor Track Season

John Barnhill returned to coach the Volunteers in 1939 and ran into disaster. The Tennessee trackmen lost to Maryville, Alabama, and Vanderbilt; tied Kentucky; and then slumped to third place in the TIAA meet. In the SEC meet they were almost shut out and came home from Birmingham with only Ed Cifers’ two points in the javelin to show for their efforts.

1940 Outdoor Track Season

During the 1940 season, with Willis Tucker rolling up the points, Captain Ed Cifers’ Vols beat Emory & Henry, Maryville, Tennessee Tech, and Kentucky; won the TIAA; and bowed only to Alabama. School records were shattered by Willis Tucker, 24.7 in the low hurdles; Ted Kinney, 14’-3” in the discus; and Bernie Mehen, 6’-1½” in the high jump. Edward Marks (third in the two-mile), Willis Tucker (fifth in the 100 and 200), and Bernie Mehen (six way tie for fifth in high jump) were Tennessee’s only place winners in the SEC meet.

1941 Outdoor Track Season

Willis Tucker, star center on the football team, was the leader of the Vols during the 1941 season. This was to be the last season before Pearl Harbor and World War II – a war from which Lieutenant Willis Tucker would not return. (11)

Sporting a 3-2 record and another TIAA victory, Tennessee rolled to fifth place in a tough Southeastern Conference meet. Willis Tucker place third in the 220 yard low hurdles with a 24.2 time and fifth in the 100 yard dash with a 9.8; Ted Kinney won the discus at 141’-5/8” (2 3/8” short of his school record set in the TIAA meet); Bernie Mehen tied for second in the high jump at 6’-1 5/8” (1 5/8” short of his school record); David Romine took fourth place in the shot put at 45’-3¾” (short of his best throw of 46’-9” in the TIAA); and finally the mile relay team sprinted to a school record of 3:22.2 and a third place finish. Warren Vick, Lester Campbell, Ted Beeler, and Gordon Magee were members of the record-holding relay team.

1942 Outdoor Track Season

It was a dark year for Sim Efland’s 1942 squad. The war that had begun the past December following the attack on Pearl Harbor had not yet reduced the enrollment at the University of Tennessee, but sports were no longer so important. Nevertheless the Tennessee track team beat Tennessee Tech and Kentucky, won the TIAA title once again, and lost only to Georgia Tech and Alabama. In the SEC meet David Romine took third in the shot put at 45’-7¾” and third in the discus at 134’-1¾”. Howard Shofner placed fourth in the javelin at 164’-9’.

1943-1946 Outdoor Track Season

University of Tennessee officials decided not to field any varsity spring sports teams during the 1943-1946 war years. Even so, several individuals did decide to work out on their own and entered the SEC meets each year as representatives of the University of Tennessee. Those who placed in the 1943-1946 SEC meets are as follows:

  • In 1943: Larry Partridge threw the discus 125’-7” for fifth place and Tom
    Hollingsworth high jumper 6’-2” for a second place tie.
  • In 1944: Louis Schneider took fourth place in the mile run.
  • In 1945: Joe Steffy threw the shot put 42”-11” for third place, the discus
    119’-9 3/4” for fourth place, and the javelin 167’-6” for third place.
  • In 1946: Tennessee did not score any points.

The war was over and the veterans would soon be coming home. Once again the athletic field would be the place for battles to be fought. The smoke and dying would pass away and a bone-jarring block or fast 100 yard dash would take its place. Once again track would be important.

Chapter IV: Southern Conference Days
Chapter VI: The New Era

The Chuck Rohe Track Era

In 1962 the University of Tennessee hired a young track coach, Chuck Rohe. The next nine years, along with the Stan Huntsman era to follow, began the most successful era of SEC track & field and cross-country dominance in the school’s history.

What a Day!
Chuck Rohe