A History of Summer Track & Field in Rochester, NY


    It was Henry Ford, the automaker, who said that “history is largely bunk”. He thought that any written history would become an attempt to judge people and events as if they made sense. He concluded that any such attempt on the part of a reasonable man to explain the past as consisting of reasonable and consistent actions was doomed to fail. You see, according to Henry Ford, history is a record of confusion and delusion. Perhaps to show that often I am confused and deluded, I am presenting for your enjoyment a nowhere near complete history of summer track and field in Rochester, NY.

    The Early Years:

    This history of summer track and field in Rochester, NY begins on July 1, 1958 when the Rochester Track Club (RTC) was founded. The self-reliant Peter J. Todd, who would go on to become the feisty cross country and track coach at the Rochester Institute of Technology, contacted a few of the top runners in the greater Rochester area with the idea of forming a local running club – the Rochester Track Club. They originally came together as a road racing club although in the back of their minds they thought that together they might challenge the domination of the Buffalo area’s Gardentown Track Club. Pete Todd was elected as the first President of the RTC and served as such until 1976. Along with Todd, the original members of the RTC were Herb Wabnitz, Gary Thompson, Jerry Fuhrman and Ed Duncan. Early members included Jack Coons, Dick Ashley, Don Brown and a young city school sprinter named Trent Jackson. The club chose red and white as their official colors because four of the five founding members were either graduates or students of Cortland State college, whose colors - yep, you guessed it - just happened to be red and white. That first summer the RTC team won one team trophy and ended the year with seventeen members.

    The early star of the RTC was Ed Duncan. Jack Coons remembers Ed Duncan as the “first hippie I had ever met. He had long hair and a carefree but very competitive attitude. He did not like to lose, even in practice.” Ed Duncan finished in 10th place in the 1958 Boston Marathon as a seventeen year old schoolboy. Duncan teamed with Coons, Dick Ashley and Don Brown to put the Rochester Track Club on the national map. In 1966, Track & Field News voted the RTC one of the top five distance teams in the country.

    For those accustomed to the multitude of weekly road races in this area, the early long distance running schedule for the RTC team would have been quite a shock. There were only a handful of established road races in New York state in the entire summer. Usually the club members would pile into a station wagon and travel to a race with no sleeping accommodations planned. Coons remembers sleeping in the County Jail in Poughkeepsie, NY as guests of the local sheriff the night before one road race championship.

    Trent Jackson, another early RTC member, represented the U.S. in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, pulling up in the semi-finals of the 100m dash after straining a muscle. Gold medalist (Bullet) Bob Hayes was the only runner to beat Trent at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon that year. Trent Jackson at one time held the national high school record for 100 yard dash at 9.4 seconds. In 1971 Trent became the inaugural inductee into the RTC Hall of Fame. Trent passed away at age 65 in March, 2007.

    Despite the tremendous success of Trent Jackson, the early Rochester Track Club was a distance-oriented group. That was soon to change.

    In the mid-1960’s the Rochester Track Club and the indomitable Peter J. Todd hosted a series of summer track meets at Brighton High School. In 1968 the meets were moved to the new all-weather track at RIT. By this time, the Tuesday evening Summer Track & Field Series was the core of the RTC’s activities. At that time, sanctioning of amateur sporting events was tightly controlled by the Amateur Athletics Union (AAU) in order to prevent the contamination of amateur athletes from the professional or paid athlete. To circumvent the strict AAU controls, Pete Todd ran the summer track series as a closed competition. In order to compete in the Summer Series, you first had to join the RTC. The summer dues were $5. For ten years the Summer Track & Field Series was pretty much a one-man organization led by the iconoclastic RIT Coach, Pete Todd.

    Note: Of course there were summer track and field events in Rochester, NY prior to the 1960’s but they were often one-time events like local town summer rec. events, the Jesse Owens meets or Junior Olympics and not the organized series of open meets that the RTC hosted.

    A Changing of the Guard:

    In 1976 Pete Todd retired as President of the RTC to devote more time to his growing RIT running program. His surprised successor as RTC President was 24 year-old Bill Quinlisk. The new RTC Board of Directors led by Quinlisk organized a merger of the Rochester Track Club, the Rochester Road Runners and Brockport’s College City Striders Club to form the Greater Rochester Track Club (GRTC). Quinlisk became the first President of the GRTC and continued hosting the Summer Track Series at RIT. The running boom of the 1970’s saw a dramatic increase in GRTC membership to nearly 2000 athletes by 1983. Along with the running boom came the amazing increase in numbers, size and quality of all kinds of local road races, cross country races and indoor and outdoor track & field meets. In many ways this was the heyday of the Summer Track Series and of running in general.

    From that one team trophy won by the RTC in 1958, the GRTC by 1983 had won over 20 individual and team national championships and over 200 championships in both regional and state-level competition in cross country, road racing and track and field.

    Rochester Summer Track and Field Series Meet Sites

    1965 to 1967 Brighton High School

    1968 to 1982 Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

    1983 to 1984 Monroe Community College (MCC)

    1985 to 1986 Jefferson H.S.

    1987 to 1993 Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

    1994 to 1995 McQuaid Jesuit High School

    1996 to 1998 Frederick Douglass Junior High School

    1999 University of Rochester (UR)

    2000 to 2009 Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

    2010 Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) & Penfield High School

    Over the years more than 36,000 different athletes have competed in the Rochester Summer Track & Field Series.






    Rochester Summer Track & Field Series Data

    Year Site # Meets Total Athletes Series Director(s)

    1958 July 1, 1958 Rochester Track Club (RTC) founded






    1964 Tokyo Olympics


    1966 Brighton HS

    1967 Brighton HS

    1968 RIT

    1969 RIT

    1970 RIT

    1971 RIT

    1972 RIT

    1973 RIT

    1974 RIT

    1975 RIT

    1976 RIT

    1977 RIT

    1978 RIT

    1979 RIT 8 1273 Bill Quinlisk

    1980 RIT 8

    1981 RIT 8

    1982 RIT 8 907

    1983 MCC 8 1111

    1984 MCC 8 1474

    1985 Jefferson HS

    1986 Jefferson HS

    1987 RIT 8 1331 22nd year?





    1992 RIT 6 551 Lisa Bower/Bill Quinlisk

    1993 RIT 8 Ken Switnicki/Bill Quinlisk

    1994 McQuaid 8

    1995 McQuaid 8 Hammer incident - 30th year

    1996 Douglass 6

    1997 Douglass 6

    1998 Douglass 7

    1999 UR 6

    2000 RIT/RH Dale Ladd/Bill Quinlisk/Dave Warth

    2001 RIT 7 1302 Dave Warth/Bill Quinlisk

    2002 RIT Dave Warth/Bill Quinlisk

    2003 RIT 7 950 1 rain out Dave Warth/Bill Quinlisk

    2004 RIT 7 Dave Warth/Bill Quinlisk

    2005 RIT 6 1145 Dave Warth/Bill Quinlisk, 40th year

    2006 RIT 5 Dave Warth/Bill Quinlisk

    2007 RIT 5 Dave Warth/Bill Quinlisk

    2008 RIT 6 Dave Warth/Bill Quinlisk/Brendan Fitzgerald

    2009 RIT 5 Dave Warth/Bill Quinlisk/Brendan Fitzgerald

    2010 to present 6/7 Penfield HS Dave Hennessey/Laura Bourcy/Doug Schneider


    Below are the only results that I could find for the 1958 Boston Marathon where RTC member Ed Duncan finished 10th overall as a 17 year old schoolboy.

    Boston Marathon 1958

    203 entrants

    ”A foreign runner once again found the finish line ahead of the field as Yugoslavian Franjo Mihalic, the 1956 Olympic runner-up, ran to victory in 2:25:54. Almost five minutes behind was John J. Kelley, who finished second 2:30:51. This marked Kelley's second of five runner-up performances. Mihalic survived the 84-degree day to become the first and only Eastern European resident to win the Boston Marathon.”



    USATF Niagara Association Sub 4-Minute Milers

    On February 14, 2015 Steve Mangan, (Honeoye Falls Lima HS ‘10, Honeoye Falls, NY, Dartmouth College ’14) became only the 430th American runner to break four minutes in the one mile run. He also joined a select group of only 18 runners with ties to Central and Western NY who have broken the magic 4-minute barrier. Below is the list of the eighteen runners with ties to the USATF Niagara Association region who have broken four minutes in the one mile run:

    1. 56. Charlie McMullen (Missouri) 3:59.7 (1) East Lansing, MI May 26, 1973

    2. 58. Dick Buerkle (New York AC) 3:58.0 (1) Gainesville, FL June 04, 1973

    3. 69. Karl Thornton (Penn) 3:57.9* (4) Philadelphia, PA April 27, 1974

    4. 70. Bruce Fischer (UCTC) 3:58.5* (3) Wichita, KS June 01, 1974

    5. 89. Don Paige (Villanova) 3:58.10 (2) Westwood, CA May 07, 1978

    6. 97. Ross Donoghue (St John's) 3:58.0 (4) Piscataway NJ June 23, 1979

    7. 104. Mike Wyatt (Philly Pioneers) 3:58.0* (5) Philadelphia, PA May 18, 1980

    8. 177. Bill Rathbun (Boston AA) 3:59.94i* (4) Boston, MA February 16, 1991

    9. 199. Benny McIntosh (Asics) 3:58.25* (6) Eugene, OR June 04, 1994

    10. 207. Brad Sumner (NYAC) 3:59.11* (2) Philadelphia, PA April 29, 1995

    11. 230. Jonathon Riley (Stanford) 3:58.72i (2) Ames, IA February 06, 1999

    12. 312. Lopez Lomong (Nike) 3:53.97 (5) Eugene, OR June 08, 2008

    13. 331. Erik van Ingen (Binghamton) 3:59.58i (1) State College, PA January 30, 2010

    14. 345. Kyle Heath (unattached) 3:59.89i* (4) New York, NY March 05, 2010

    15. 368. Alex Hatz (Wisconsin) 3:58.61i* (1) Fayetteville, AK February 11, 2012

    16. 418 Jesse Garn (Binghamton) 3:59.37i* (1) Boston, MA March 2, 2014

    17. 429 Martin Herir (Syracuse) 3:59.81i* (4) State College, PA January 31, 2015

    18. 430 Steve Mangan (Boston AA) 3:58.24i* (4) Boston, MA February 14, 2015


    Chronological list: © Track & Field News, 2015


    Explanation: This is not a list of each runner’s best mile time with the exception of the starred (*) runners. This list indicates the first time that each runner broke 4 minutes in the mile. The number preceding the runner’s name indicates the chronological order in which the runner entered the list of Americans who have gone under 4 minutes in the one mile run. Charlie McMullen was the 56th American to break 4 minutes in the mile. The parentheses after the runner’s name indicate the runner’s school or club affiliation for that race. The column after the runner’s official time lists their place in the race and the city where the race was held. Times in the hundredths are FAT. All others are hand times.


    * = athlete’s best mile time ever

    i = mark made indoors.


    The USATF Niagara Association territory includes Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, and Binghamton, which represents the State of New York west of and including counties of Oswego, Onondaga, Cortland, and Broome.





















    Runner’s Link to USATF Niagara Association region:


    1. Charlie McMullen – (1951-2003) Spencerport HS ’69, Spencerport, NY, Univ. of Missouri ’73.

    Lifetime resident of Rochester area, Special Education Teacher, Rochester, NY.

    2. Dick Buerkle – (b. 1947) Aquinas HS ’66, Rochester NY, Villanova Univ. ’70.

    1970’s Resident, Spanish Teacher, Coach at Bishop Kearney HS in Rochester, NY. He is a former World record holder in the indoor mile (3:54.93 on 1/13/78 at State College, PA). He was a 2-time US Olympian at 5000m (’76 and ’80).

    3. Karl Thornton – Binghamton HS ‘68, Binghamton, NY, Univ. of Pennsylvania ’72.

    4. Bruce Fischer – East Providence HS ‘70, Providence, RI, Syracuse Univ. ’74.

    5. Don Paige – Baldwinsville HS ‘75, Villanova Univ. ’80.

    6. Ross Donoghue – Bishop Cunningham HS ‘76, Oswego NY, St John's/Villanova Univ. ’80.

    7. Mike Wyatt - St. Joe’s, Buffalo, NY, Rochester Institute of Technology/Penn State Univ. ’78,

    8. Bill Rathbun – Nottingham HS ’86, Syracuse NY, Cornell Univ. ’90, Albany Law ’97.

    Syracuse Chargers Board of Directors 1992-2002.

    9. Benny McIntosh – Auburn HS ‘85, Univ. of Kentucky ’89.

    10. Brad Sumner – McQuaid Jesuit HS ’89 Rochester NY, Villanova Univ. ‘93,

    11. Jonathon Riley – Skaneateles HS until 1996 his Jr. year, Skaneateles, NY, Moved to Brookline, MA for Sr. year in HS, Stanford Univ. ’02. Ran 3:43.18 for 1500m in HS.

    12. Lopez Lomong – Tully HS ‘04, Tully, NY, Northern Arizona Univ. “Lost Boy of Sudan” came to US in 10th grade.

    13. Erik Van Ingen – Marathon HS, ’08, Marathon, NY, Binghamton Univ. ’11, Binghamton, NY. Has run best of 3:57.11 in February, 2011.

    14. Kyle Heath – (b. 08/24/1986) Victor HS’04, Victor, NY, Syracuse Univ. ’08.

    15. Alex Hatz – Fayetteville-Manlius HS ’10, Manlius, NY, Univ. Wisconsin ’14.

    16. Jesse Garn – Marcellus HS ’11, Marcellus, NY, Binghamton Univ. ’15.

    17. Martin Herir – Washingtonville HS ’11, Washingtonville, NY, Syracuse Univ. ’16.

    18. Steve Mangan – Honeoye Falls Lima HS ‘10, Honeoye Falls, NY, Dartmouth College ’14.


    Other notable performances:


    A. Chris Horton – McQuaid HS ’73, Rochester, NY, Brandeis Univ. ’77.

    4:09.0 HS mile (2nd place to Matt Centrowitz 4:08.4) at the Golden West Inv. in 1973 is still the Section V HS Boys Mile record (4:07.4c for 1600m); 1973 HS Rochester NY Diocesan and NY State Inter-Diocesan Mile Champion; 1973 HS Mile winner at International Prep Meet, Loucks Games, Eastern States; Second Place at Golden West Meet.

    Collegiate Career: Brandeis Univ., NCAA Division III All-American at Brandeis Univ., 1976 NCAA DIII 1500m National Champion Outdoor Track in 1976, 3:46.82.

    Competed in 1980 Olympic Trials 1500m, qualified with a 3:41.9 1500m in Eugene, OR, 1980 which converts to 3:59.7c for the Mile.


    B. Tom Tuori –Henninger HS ’83, Syracuse NY, Univ. Rochester ’87.

    1983 HS Section III Indoor and Outdoor Track Champion 3200 meters, CNYCL Cross Country Champion.

    Collegiate Career: Univ. of Rochester, 1987 NCAA D III 1500m National Champion Outdoor Track, 3:46.08. Earned All-America honors six times—four times in the 1500-meter run (three times outdoors, once indoors) and twice in cross country. University of Rochester Athletic Hall of Fame, 1987 Recipient of Louis Alexander Award. Post-Graduate: Qualified for 1988 US Olympic trials in the 1500-meter run with a time of 3:41.56. Member of the Nike Boston team that won the 1987 United States Open Cross Country National Championship. Represented New York State in 1988 and 1989 "Ekiden" 5-Man Relay Races through the streets of New York City that included elite teams from all 50 states and 10 countries.

    Personal best of 3:41.56 for 1500m at 1987 New England TAC Championships which converts to 3:59.22c for the Mile.


    C. Chris Fox – Martinsville HS ‘77, Martinsville, WV, Auburn Univ. ’83, XC/Track Coach Syracuse Univ., 2006-present.

    126. Chris Fox (Athletics West) 3:59.0i* (2) Johnson City January 15, 1983. Born in Washington, DC -- 22 October 1958.


    D. Mark Muggleton - Lewiston Porter HS ‘75, Edinboro/Arkansas ‘80

    3:40.8 for 1500m at Tri-Conference Championships in Austin, TX on 5/18/1979 which would be converted 3:58.5c for the Mile.


    E. Nick Wade - Cornell Univ. ’13, 3:59.998 Mile = official time of 4:00.00 on Feb. 9, 2013 in Geneva, OH.




    First ever 6 May 1954 Roger Bannister 3:59.4ht England

    First American 1 June 1957 Don Bowden 3:58.7ht Stockton, CA

    First 40+ 19 February 1994 Eamonn Coghlan 3:58.15fat Cambridge, MA

    First Niagara 26 May 1973 Charlie McMullen 3:59.7ht E. Lansing, MI





    For discussion purposes we are using the following equivalent performances:

    For 1500m: 3:42.22 = 3:59.99 for 1 Mile

    For 1600m: 3:58.61 = 3:59.99 for 1 Mile



    NCAA converts by multiplying 1500m time (in sec.) x 1.08 to get Mile equivalent (in sec.).

    Hand times should be converted to hand times and FAT should be converted to FAT.



    © 2015 Bill Quinlisk

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