In March of 1976, I was a skinny, sixteen year old high school junior. That month I ran in my first varsity track meet. Our team travelled about 2 hours under dreary skies to compete in the Angleton, Texas Relays. My gosh, I remember it all like it was yesterday.
I always suspected my track coach had a dark sense of humor. As if to prove it, he slated me to run the 100 yard dash (Texas ran track events in yards in those days).
1976 was a legendary Texas high school track season. Johnny "Lam" Jones, was having a schoolboy track season for ages. In just 3 months, I would watch Jones on a grainy television set run in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He won gold in the 4x100 meters as part of the USA team. After playing football for the University of Texas, Jones went to the NFL.
Fortunately for our track team, Jones was not at the meet.
When I was called to the track for my qualifying heat, I was in lane seven. To my right, three lanes over in lane four, I spied Curtis Dickey backing into the starting blocks.
Dickey was then a senior at Bryan High School. He was to go on to all Southwest Conference honors at running back for Texas A&M and became a world class sprinter. Dickey, like Jones, went on to play in the NFL.
What happened next is exactly what was expected. I finished dead last in the heat. It was pretty much a butt kicking.
I cannot remember being more excited about an athletic event.
I realized in that moment the reason why I had drawn a heat against Curtis Dickey during a track season ending with watching Johnny "Lam" Jones run in the Olympics Games. It was to allow me to appreciate watching my son, 39 years later, compete in his own Olympic dash.
This time it was just a more special kind.
Congratulations to Zane, and all the athletes who trained and competed in this remarkable track meet.