Time Machine: A Look Back at the Early Days of Indoor Track in Kansas

A Week ago i received an email from Charles Redfield, a former coach and sports writer, who is retired now but still follows the sport of track and cross country passionately. Charles has a mind full of memories that took place 50+ years ago. As a History teacher and coach myself who loves this sport and loves the history of it, I always try and teach my kids the history of the sport as well. to break a record you first should understand the record, I could sit and listen to old stories all day. Well Charles was kind enough to write me a short little story of the "old days" and how they would get work done for an indoor meet.

Here is his story.

 The Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) had a state indoor track meet from 1955 to 1978 and girls track for the last three years.

The meet was held at Kansas State on the dirt track at Ahearn Field House. And it was the only indoor meet for Kansas athletes.

If I remember correctly it was a 220-yard track.

I was an assistant track coach at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kan., from 1965 through 1969.

Wyandotte was a power in indoor track and that was because head track coach  Francis "Tad" Swaim had an short indoor track under the football stadium. Picture a typical high school stadium and the stands are on the sidelines, which means that the track wasn't much longer than 100 yards. The track was asphalt and Swaim had wooden curves and they were sharp turns for the two or three lanes.

I was involved with distance runners and this was after Jim Ryun graduated from Wichita East in the spring of 1965.

We had good cross country teams with the leaders Greg Carpenter and Bob Hendee.

Swain retired from Wyandotte in 1968 retiring to his farm in the Wellington area. He served as clerk of the course at the KU Relays for many years until he died in 1987.

His replacement was Ray Daniels. Ray ended his career as the Superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools.

The Kansas State coach was DeLoss Dodds. He went on to Texas where he served as the Athletic Director from 1981 through 2014.

Some of high school greats coached teams at the state indoor.

And some of the coaching greats include Bob Timmons at Wichita East, Herman Wilson at Wichita North and Merlin Gish at Shawnee Mission North.

Bob left Wichita East to be assistant coach at the University of Kansas in 1964. He became the head coach in 1965 with a well-known distance runner from Wichita East in Jim Ryun.

Timmons was the Jayhawks coach for 24 years. He is now 90.

The 6A, 5A and 3A state cross country meets are held at Rim Rock Farm, which has Bob's home on it.

Bob and his KU cross country runners built the Rim Rock Farm course.

Herman Wilson went from Wichita North to head coach at Wichita State.

Merlin Gish coached at SM North for many years. He joked for years that they would take him out of the school feet first and he was almost right as died from cancer in 1995. Gish was one of those people who always had something good to say to people.

Just a few memories that stick in my mind from almost 50 years ago.