Stan Whitley: One of a kind

2014-01-30T23:19:00Z Stan Whitley: One of a kindBy Kenny Cress/kcress@santamariatimes.com Santa Maria Times

Stan Whitley had quite a track and field career at Hancock College. He has had quite a track and field career since.

He was one of scores of Hancock track and field alumni, and other well-wishers, who attended the dedication of the new Hancock track at the Hancock College campus Saturday.

“This is quite a difference,” he said as he scanned the gleaming facility. “We used to run on that old GrassTex surface.”

Whitley won the triple jump (49 feet, 10 inches) and long jump (a wind-aided 25-2) at the state meet in 1967 as he helped Hancock College’s men repeat as state champions. Those marks still stand as school records.

Whitley was also part of Hancock’s sprint medley relay team that set a record of 3 minutes, 27.5 seconds in 1967. Oh, yes, he was also part of the school’s record-setting 400-meter relay  team (the distance was 440 yards then), which clocked a 40.4.

He was a teacher and a track and field coach for 13 years at La Verne Bonita High School. Whitley is also a member of the USA Masters Track and Field Hall of Fame. Whitley, who was born in North Carolina, raised in Washington D.C. and lives now in Alta Loma, was inducted into the Mt. SAC Relays Hall of Fame in 1985.

Whitley long jumped more than 25 feet (7.61 meters) for 17 consecutive years from 1966 to 1982. He was part of a Hancock contingent that went to the Kansas relays.

“(Kansas University) recruited me there,”  said the only man to long jump over 25 feet in three different decades.

The Kansas school, and Big Eight Conference, record holder in the outdoor long jump (26-8 1/2, 8.14 meters) scored points in the long jump, triple jump, 100, 220 and the 440 (U.S. distances were in yards then) relay at the Big 8 Conference Meet  in Ames, Iowa in 1969. He scored more points than the entire host Iowa State team.

He was the Kansas MVP Senior in 1969, beating out none other than Jim Ryun. “That really surprised me,” said Whitley.

“He set a world record. I only set a conference record.” Ryun became the first high school runner to break four minutes in the mile when he ran 3:59.0 as a junior at Wichita East High School in Kansas. Ryun later became the last U.S. world record holder in the mile.

Whitley was a regular for USA International teams that competed against teams from Great Britain, Germany, Italy and the former USSR, among others, from the late 1960s through the 1980s.

“I jumped 26-8 1/2 at the 1969 USA-USSR meet,” he said. “I passed Jesse Owens’ best, which was 26-8 1/4, and I beat the best man in the world at the time, Bob Beamon.”

From 1966 to now, Whitley has missed only six Mt. SAC Relays. He set a meet record of 26-5 1/2 there in 1973, defeating 1972 Olympics gold medalist Randy Williams and the ‘72 Olympics silver medalist, Arnie Robinson.  Whitley competed in the long jump at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1968, ‘72 and ‘76.

He said his legs can’t take jumping competitively anymore, but Whitley hasn’t slowed down. In fact, he said, he finished second in the 100 meters and in the 200 at the National Masters Championships in Olathe, Kan. recently.

Whitley’s school records are two of many from the 1960’s and 70’s that still stand at Hancock.

“Maybe, with the new track, that will help a lot of those records be broken,” Kenny Kring told the audience during the dedication. Kenny Kring, son of the late Hancock coach Ray Kring whose cross country teams won 16 conference and three state titles, is a school record holder himself.

He holds the decathlon mark of 7,243 points that he set in 1971.

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