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Coach Sam Bell’s track finale was a failure. A season full of promise faded into one of disappointment. At the season’s outset. OSU’s track team pointed toward an undefeated season and a national championship. There were no weak events in the Beavers’ repertoire and there was particular strength in the middle and long distance running of Morgan Groth and Tracy Smith, the shot put of Lahcen Samsam. and both hurdles of Tom Wyatt, Gregg Macy and Rusty Brown. What then happened? What caused such great potential to dwindle into dual-meet losses to every Northwest team? Many attributed the failure to the preseason announcement of Coach Bell’s hiring by the University of California. This coaching change, announced in April to commence in July, was thought to have thrown a cloak of despondency over the team. Closer examination pinpoints the real reason for the poor season, injuries. Every key man was injured at some time during the season.
The injury jinx struck early. Doug Parker, Olympic trial qualifier in the
880’s, was lost for the season due to mononucleosis. The day after sophomore Tracy Smith had set an OSU best-ever mark in the two mile,. he stepped on a water sprinkler while training and cut his foot so severely that he could not walk on it for two weeks. Morgan Groth, the nation’s best 880 man, developed tendon trouble that reduced his effectiveness immeasurably. Team Captain Gregg Macy, Tom Wyatt, and Rusty Brown, the best trio of intermediate hurdlers on one team in the country, all fell under the injury ax. Gary Baker broke a metatarsal bone, Lahcen Samsam develoj ed a bone spur on his elbow, quartermiler Steve Pancoast pulled a hamstring muscle, and the day before the first Oregon dual meet Smith, Brown, school record holder in the pole vault; Terry Cox, and top quartermiler Bob McLaren were hospitalized with the measles. This is not to blame all the failure on injuries. The Beavers should have defeated Washington State even without some of these men.
The severity of OSU’s injury situation is shown dramatically in the pictures at the left. Morgan Groth hobbles across the finish line against Washington State and on to the training table for treatment. Morgan injured his Achilles tendon in this race and the injury slowed him all season.
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