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1972 National Team Championship "Lompoc HS, Lompoc, California"

Published by
XCNATION.com   Sep 24th 2013, 10:16pm






By Aron Taylor for XC Nation | email



Honoring a Legend: Doug Speck


Doug Speck, one of the most well respected and noticeably passionate figures for the sport of prep cross country. The father of California prep track & field and cross country coverage, the founder of Dyestatcal, and first Inductee into the National Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010.


In 2008, Doug Speck wrote a compelling article on the great Lompoc squad of 1972. Arguably the first super-prep team in America. Never before had a prep cross country squad so deep and talented arisen in one program in the United States. Comparable to a collegiate team the Lompoc team rose out of a small town in California.


In 1972, my twin uncle's Ron & Ray Taylor attended Lompoc High School with the legendary Terry Williams. Being All-Conference football players they would see the Lompoc squad running all over the small community. My grandfather Delbert Taylor, who still resides in Lompoc, used to watch Terry Williams run along the highway as he traveled to work each morning. The Lompoc story is known all too well in the Taylor household. But the story is not mine to tell.


Doug Speck released an article entitled Lompoc HS  Best Ever Distance Crew? In that article, he prefaced the utter greatness and dominance of the nation's first program legitimately capable of claiming they were the best ever. With humility, we release the story in its entirety honoring both the 1972 Lompoc Braves as US National Champions as told by legendary editor Doug Speck. This is what he wrote.


Lompoc, CaliforniaMAGNIFICENT 7

Lompoc HS - Best Ever Distance Crew?

Early 1970's and the Lompoc HS Magic  By Doug Speck


When one looks to super successful programs in the distances over the decades those of us who have been at it a while have to bring up the Lompoc High School Boys squads of the period around 1970, with the Braves an amazing series of successes during those years that left observers in awe. The quality of efforts, domination over good competition, and a ruthless, competitive style that took no prisoners along the way during a very competitive era of prep distance running in California certainly marks them as among the best in the state and the nation's history. Some of their measurable efforts on the course and around the track are still standing as records nearly forty years later as proof of their rock solid stature. A road trip this week will give Rich Gonzalez and myself a chance to talk to one or two athletes who were involved with those Lompoc squads, and we thought we would lead into the trip and subsequent interviews with some background.



  1. Lompoc HS, California
  2. York HS, Illinois
  3. South Eugene HS, Oregon
  4. Haddon Township HS, New Jersey
  5. Duval HS, Maryland
  6. George Marshall HS, Virginia
  7. Merced HS, California
  8. Northwestern HS, Maryland
  9. Winter Park HS, Florida
10. Christian Brothers HS, New York
11. Christian Brothers HS, New Jersey
12. Middletown HS, New Jersey
13. Largo HS, Largo, Florida
14. Arch Bishop Molloy HS, New York
15. Parkdale HS, Maryland
16. Parsippany Hills HS, New Jersey
17. John Handley HS, Virginia
18. Terry Haute North HS, Indiana
19. Richland HS, Washington
20. Hersey HS, Illinois 
21. Woodbridge HS, Virginia
22. North Central HS, Washington
23. Palos Verdes HS, California
24. Thomas Edison HS, Virginia
25. Mira Costa HS, California


Lompoc sits about forty-five minutes north of Santa Barbara with a turn off Highway 101 as it heads towards San Luis Obispo and a jaunt to the west taking you to the pleasant town of just over 40,000 that dates from the days of the Spanish Missions. Ten miles from the ocean provides Lompoc with some ideal running and training weather, with the Vandenberg Air Force base and its involvement with space and defense program over the decades placing the community in the news occasionally. The school has a fine overall sports tradition, with area rival Cabrillo adding to distance successes through the decades, with the Lompoc Brave distance program in track and cross-country from the period around 1970 certainly deserving a prominent place in local sports lore.


The school first appeared with high placings in the Southern Section Cross-Country title meets in the late 1960's, with a 1968 fourth place finish Division II (there were three divisions at that time, so DII was medium sized schools) before the program under Coach Frank Hiatt (1969-1970) and Dick Johnson (1971 and 1972) took off to four straight Section titles runs in Cross-Country. The last two championships were at the Large School level, as the Section had grown into four divisions in the sport and the Lompoc squad moved up to face the best competition they could find. The 26 points scored by the Braves in the 1972 Section 4A Cross-Country win is the lowest ever at that Large Schools level with all schools combined in one scoring race. Larry Hildebrand helped lead the 1969 and 1970 squad, but the eventual individual driving force behind the program out on the course and around the track was Terry Williams, who followed Hildebrand's second in the 1969 CIF AA Cross-Country title race with a fifth as just a frosh athlete that fall. The next 1970 Championship harrier season Williams was the Section AAA Cross Country Champ on the course run at Long Beach State with a 9:39.5 two mile clocking, the #3 overall mark of the day there as just a tenth grader. Hildebrand was fifth for the team that year as a senior. Williams fine improvement continued into the spring of his soph track season in 1971, as he was the nation's #2 tenth grade two-miler at 9:01.2, with Hildebrand a fine 9:12.0, giving the squad a pretty tough 1-2 punch. It was the Fall of 1971 that the Lompoc legend really started to grow, as they moved up to the Large School contests everywhere, in the Mt SAC Invitational Sweeps race taking four of the top thirteen places, led by Terry Williams Course Record 9:36.5 run, with Roger Hansen (6th - 10:08), Tony Nunez (9th - 10:12), and Jim Schankel (13th - 10:19) helping lead the group to a team time Course Record of 50:47.5 to take down Uplands 1969 standard of 50:52. The Lompoc squad won the Southern Section 4A (Large Schools) title that 1971 Fall, with 52 points over area rival Dos Pueblos (Goleta) 71 and Orange County power Costa Mesa 122. Marc Genet (Santa Ana) 9:29.6 won the contest over Curtis Beck (Santa Monica) 9:30, with the duo a hot combo, Marc 8:53.4 for two miles later in the spring, and the smooth-striding Beck 4:04.2 for a mile and 8:48.8 for two miles later that school years track season. Roger Hansen (9:42) led the Lompoc charge in the CC Championship competition, with Terry Williams 12th (9:48), Tony Nunez 13th (9:53), Alvin Gilmore 15th (10:04), and Jim Schankel 18th. Williams came back strong later that spring season of his junior year, racing 8:55.0 for two miles, 13:59.2 for three miles, and an impressive 11 miles 1277 yard in a one hour run around the track, which essentially meant he was one lap short of five-minute miles for 12 miles or one hour. Improving mightily that 1972 spring track season was Alvin Gilmore, with the African-American runner emerging with a 4:12.4 mile, with teammate Roger Hansen a 9:11.0 for two miles as a best and a national ranking. The squad clocked a 10:15.6 in the Distance Medley relay, making them the #7 team in the nation for the season at that distance.


The 1972 Fall Cross-Country season on the course and actually around the track is where Lompoc would make their mark as perhaps the best team ever in California and one of the best in National history. The group marched from Invitational to Invitational in 1972 stomping the competition in amazing manner. Meets such as the Palos Verdes Invitational, where runners on the varsity race against their counterparts on other groups (#1's against each other, next race #2's against each other, etc.) Lompoc simply won every varsity race right down the line, with Roger Fabing, who won the JV run for the Braves recording the #4 overall time for the day. On top, Terry Williams took down St. Bernard star Chris Hoffman's CR of 10:59 with a 10:43 clocking on the very challenging Palos Verdes hills, with the team winning a team time battle by over three minutes! At the by-grade, Dos Pueblos Invitational Lompoc was 1-2-4-6 at the Senior level, and 1-2-4 on the Junior level, quite a scoring seven! At the Mt. SAC Invitational in the Sweeps race, the squad sat in the rear for most of the first mile before exploding to six of the top eleven places in a dominating win behind Terry Williams 9:52.3 victory.


Around the measurable track is where the Braves had a couple of efforts that really chiseled their quality in history. In the early November Westminster Postal two mile, a race around the dirt track run in flats, the Lompoc squad had Terry Williams (8:58.4), Alvin Gilmore (9:15), Jim Schankel (9:17), Jim Warrick (9:20), and Tony Nunez (9:29) blaze 46:20.9 for a team time clocking, destroying the old National Record of 47:11.0 by Maine East HS of Parkridge, Illinois. Steve Galbraith ran #6 for Lompoc that day at 9:37.


In 1972, the Southern Section moved its Cross-Country Championships from the flat and grassy Long Beach State venue to Mt. SAC with a bit more of the hill and trail action. I remember watching the Lompoc crew with a casual start to their Section Prelims contest that fall before charging through the pack to 1-3-5-7-8 placings and 24 points in their Heat. The finals marked a glorious day for the Lompoc Braves, with five of the top ten placings in the 4A Large School level, with Terry Williams (1st-9:48.0), Jim Schankel (5th-10:22), Jim Warrick (6th-10:23), Alvin Gilmore (8th-10:29), and Roger Fabing (10th-10:33) broken up by Curtis Beck (2nd - 4:04 miler-8:48 2 miler in track), soph Ralph Serna (3rd - he ran 4:13.2 mile later that spring), Barrie Williams (4th - 4:09.8 miler), David Hernandez (7th), and Gary Blume (9th - 9:03.6 2 Miler that year as a junior). Essentially you had to be a sub-4:15 miler or sub 9:05 two miler to break up Lompoc's top five!


Shortly after the regular season the Lompoc crowd hit the track for an All-Comers three-mile on December 9th, with Terry Williams (13:53.8) leading Jim Schankel (14:27.8), Jim Warrick (14:54.8), Roger Fabing (14:58.8), and Steve Galbraith (15:09.8), with the group setting a National Record of 73:25 for the combined times.



The strong running continued into the spring of that 1972-1973 school year, with the late March Buena Ventura Relays featuring a good effort by the team at the Distance Medley Relay, with Terry Jackson (52.1), Tim Costa (2:00.1), Alvin Gilmore (3:02.2), and Terry Williams (4:08.6) racing 10:03.0 to break the National Record of 10:05.6 set by Essex Catholic with Marin Liquori on the anchor at the Penn Relays in 1966. Williams came back in forty minutes to run 4:14.6 in the mile in winning over Gilmore 4:16.5, with Jim Schankel 4:27.4, and Tony Nunez 4:28.2 totaling a pretty good four mile relay when their efforts in that event were added up. Schankel was 9:20.4 there in the two mile a bit later, with Roger Fabing 9:23.2, and Jim Warrick 9:41.2 in that same meet. I was in attendance there, with the competition kind of interesting me in announcing some of this stuff, as the only comment mentioned over the public address system during Lompoc's National Record run by the well-intentioned local guy was, Let's bring in Lompoc High School with a fine effort. They won by 43 seconds with an overall domination of the competition during the day rarely ever seen. A week later on April 5th, Terry Williams had the famed 8:59.2 two mile in a meet against Arroyo Grande HS, believed to be US prep history's only sub 9 minute 3200/two mile in a dual setting. At Mt. SAC the group went after the Four Mile Record, falling just short of the National All-Time best, with Schankel (4:23.7), Fabing (4:25.6), Gilmore (4:14.2), and Williams (4:09.7) totalling 17:13.2, the #2 time in Prep History behind Essex Catholic and Liquori's 17:12.2 from 1966. The distance crew could score some points also, with the team ending up second in the CIF Southern Section 3A Team Championships with 23 points to Monrovia's sprint-powered 25 total. Tim Costa was third in the 880 (1:55.9), with Terry Jackson also a finalist off a 1:56.6 the previous week. Terry Williams broke the All-Time Section Mile best of 4:08.5 by famed Carl Trentadue from Westminster in 1965 in that 3A meet with his 4:08.4 win ahead of Bob OBrien (Bellflower) 4:08.8, with Alvin Gilmore third for Lompoc at 4:09.4. Williams returned to take the Two Mile at 9:15.9, with Roger Fabing fourth (9:21.6) and Jim Schankel 9:27.4 there. At the Section State Meet qualifier, Williams focused on the two-mile and handled rival Curtis Beck (Santa Monica), who had run 8:48.8 the year previous 8:55.2-9:02.0. Alvin Gilmore was second in the mile there at 4:11.3. At State Williams dominated the two-mile, with that event held on Friday in those days, winning at 8:54.8 over Merced's Dave Taylor 9:00.2. Alvin Gilmore was third in his Friday mile heat at 4:14.8 then returned with a strong third lap to make it a big Lompoc distance double win in his 4:11.9 Saturday final run victory.



Williams went on that 1973 summer to win the US Junior 6 mile at 28:45.2 then recorded fine 14:08.4 5000 meter and 29:55.8 10,000 meter efforts in summer competition against the Polish and Russian Junior National squads in competitions in Europe. The 5k 14:08.4 was the #5 US Prep time recorded in history behind distance legends Gerry Lindgren, Steve Prefontaine, Craig Virgin, and Rick Riley. Terrys six mile and 10,000 best on the track were #2 ever behind famed Gerry Lindgren on those lists in prep history. ~Doug Speck

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1 comment(s)
What about Southwest High School from Minneapolis? 1972 was a big year.
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