The 1974 Brandon Postal was a Great Race and a milestone in Florida Cross Country history! But I did not pass on the entire story of that race. There was an underlying cross country competition going on between, what would pit and become, two of the country's finest coaching legends and prep programs ever, Coach's Brent Haley of Largo and Joe Newton of York against one another!
An opportunity arose for Coach Haley, I believe in 1972, to attend a Clinic that was being put on by none other Coach Joe Newton. Coach Haley would become energized by the words and ideas that Coach Newton emphasize in the clinic. Through this clinic meeting they became friends with a great deal of mutual respect and admiration between them.
Coach Haley would learned about the UST&F Postal and how Coach Newton was using it as a tool to develope motivation, pride and respect among his teams by creating a culture that had become the York Cross Country program. Coach Newton's teams had finished amoung the Top 10 in the Postal competion 9 times since 1962, including runner up in 1973.
Coach Haley finally had teams that could compete with the likes of York and his Largo Packers would finish 7th in 1973 with a combined 48:41.2 to York's 48:08.
Now for the 1974 cross country season, Coach Haley & Coach Newton agreed to compete in a head to head duel meet postally, a meet that would become part of the GREAT RACE. Both teams were to run on the same day. When the the race was done for Largo, they held a combined 47:58 which was the fastest time ever recorded in Florida or in the South for that matter defeating York, 48:12.5! Largo would lead the nation at that point in time! When scored in the traditional cross country style Largo wins 25 to 30 over York.
1) Mike Warre, Largo, 9:18.2
2) Jon Winters, Largo, 9:20
3) Ron Craker, York, 9:24.6
4) Scott McCarty, York, 9:26.4
5) Ted Miller, York, 9:33.5
6) Bob McQuilkin, Largo, 9:43.4
7) Jim Simon, Largo, 9:46.1
Howard Bass, York, 9:47.6
9) Mike Klein, Largo, 9:50.2
10) Jim Driscall, York, 9:53.
Coach Haley would write in his 1974 Team Yearbook stating, "We just beat one of the best teams and best coach in the country." Certainly a proud day for Largo & Coach Haley!
However sometimes things change before crossing the finished line, if I may say so.Albertus Magnus of New York, NY would surpass Largo with a combined time of 47:47. But a much larger surprise would occur with York reruning their Postal before the submission deadline, dropping their combined time to 47:39.8 and becoming National Champions for the 1st time!
1) Ron Craker, 9:11.8
2) Scott McCarty, 9:20
3) Ted Miller, 9:35.8
4) Howard Bass, 9:42.2
5) Jim Driscall, 9:51
Only Ted Miller ran a slower time but that was only a few seconds slower. This was a big disappointment for the team and I'm sure it would have been for Coach Haley as well. Largo would not offically compete directly with York and Coach Newton again.
So this is the sidebar to THE GREAT RACE. I just wish there was a "do over"!