(Photos by Ralph Epifanio)
With Florida's rich history of track and field, it is only appropriate to recognize those individuals who have represented and honored it with their remarkable talents. Each year, the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Clinic includes the Florida Track & Field Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in its conference schedule to remind us-and its inductees-that their legendary accomplishments will not be forgotten. With that in mind, here are the most recent additions.
Ronald l. Book Distinguished Service Award: Mike Caldwell
Jimmy Carnes Lifetime Achievement Award: Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice
As early as high school (at Jean Ribault, in Jacksonville), Chandra Cheeseborough used world-class track meets as her stage. In the 1975 Pan American Games, while then only 16, she not only won two gold medals, but set a 22.7American record in the 200. A year later, and still in high school, Chandra set an American junior record in the 100 (11.3), finishing second in her first Olympic trials, and going on to place sixth at Montreal (11.24). Missing Russia in 1980, due to the Carter boycott-her 22.7 was first in the 200 trials, and she placed third in the 100 trials-- she subsequently earned two firsts in the Liberty Bowl Games (a sort of Olympic Games "consolation"; 11.27 in the 100 and 44.47 in the 4 X 400. In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Cheeseborough won gold in the 4 X 100 (41.65), gold in the 4 X 400 (3:18.29)-these relays were less than an hour apart--and second in the 400 (49.05).
Before graduating Ribault, Chandra established the still standing NFHS 100 and 220 yard records of 10.3 and 22.3, respectively.
Going on to Tennessee State, Chandra was part of national championship relay teams that set world indoor records of 1:08.9 minutes in the 640-yard relay, and 1:47.17 in the 800-yard sprint medley relay.
Individually, Cheeseborough was the national indoor 200 meter champion in 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1983.
After her own athletic career wound down, Chandra continued her track career as a coach. No matter what the level, success followed her, whether it was in college (Tennessee State), national (US Junior Pan American team), in international competition (US team selected for the 2009 IAAF World Indoor Championship) or in the Olympics (sprints and hurdles for the US at Bejing in 2008).
At Tennessee State, Coach Cheeseborough's teams have won eight Ohio Valley Conference Championships: indoor in 2003 and 2014, outdoor in 2001and 2015, and both indoor and outdoor in 2002 and 2008--leading to eight coach of the year awards.
Her sprint/hurdle athletes' medal counts at the aforementioned international meets were unprecedented, often surpassing entire countries in number.
It is apparent that Chandra Cheeseborough is adding to that lifetime achievement every day that passes.
Distinguished Service Award - Bill Buchalter
It seems that Bill Buchalter is track's version of a Timex watch: he just "keeps on ticking." In an age of electronic time pieces, this metaphor might seem dated; however the first Timex watches made their appearance right around the time Bill was old enough to wear one.
Upon graduation from the University of Florida, Buchalter stepped into his lifelong career as a journalist, beginning at the Petersburg Times, and covering a track meet right off the blocks. (At that time, the Timex watch was de rigueur, just as Bill has always been, and continues to be.)
As a professional sports journalist, Buchalter has been a true friend to track. Five years after joining the aforementioned St. Petersburg Times, he moved on to a follow up career at the Orlando Sentinel. (Like Bill, Timex was then the #1 wristwatch in Florida.)
More recently with Brighthouse Sports, Bill added on-air football coverage to his repertoire. And Timex, well, have you ever heard of the "Ironman watch?" Although it wasn't exactly named for Buchalter, it certainly could have been.
Although now "retired," Bill Buchalter remains active, writing an occasional story for the Sentinel, commenting on football for the Brighthouse network, and--it would seem--gathering a pretty substantial collection of Hall of Fame awards, which, according to his Brighthouse bio, includes the Florida Sports Hall of Fame (one of only four Florida sportswriters honored) the Florida High School Activities/Athletic Association Hall of Fame, Florida Track Hall of Fame, Florida Citrus Bowl Hall of Fame, Central Florida Sports Hall of Fame, Bob Hayes Invitational Hall of Fame, Golden South Classic Hall of Fame, and Arthur Jackson Midnight Basketball of Central Florida Inaugural Hall of Fame.
This particular award originated with the National High School Athletic Association at their 2015 Summer Meeting. Bill, however, could not attend, so it was forwarded (by former Winter Park AD, and past NHSAA president, Don Prokes) to this year's FACA presentations. (Incidentally, Bill was a recipient of a FACA HOF award waaaaay back in 1980. Like I said, a regular Timex.)
Coach Scott Gowan
In his 30 year coaching career, which includes 13 at Port St. Joe and 17 at Lawton Chiles, Gowan's Boys and Girls Cross Country and Track teams, combined, have won:
18 State Championships
10 State Runner-ups
21 Regional Championships
53 District Championships
In addition, his former and present athletes include over 50 state champions, 150 state medalists, and 400 who have won All State Honors.
In addition to his 25 Tallahassee Democrat Coach of the Year awards, the Florida Dairy Farmers have named him Coach of the Year 17 times. He was the Florida HOF Coach of the Year in 2012, and a finalist for NFHS Coach of the Year Honors in 1998.
Andrea Collier (Hunter-Thompson)
During her time at Oak Ridge High School, Andrea reigned as one of the most gifted athletes in the State of Florida. A four time State Champion (the 4 X 100 in 1982; the 100 meter hurdles, the 4 X 100 and 4 X 400 relays in 1983), she was also a six time Regional and seven time District Champion.
Andrea's times in the hurdles (13.72 in the 30" and 14.1 in the 33" hurdles-the latter ranked her #1 in the United States) helped her earn three High School All American honors, and a USA Track and Field Junior Olympic Championship. When she graduated in 1984, Oak Ridge High School honored her by retiring her jersey.
Next came Florida State, where she joined two of her former high school relay team members-Michelle Finn and Janet Levy--both of whom started at Florida State a year earlier. Those three were the core of a collegiate power in the 4 X 100 relay, one that went on to win the 1987 NCAA Championship. According to a July, 1987 Track and Field article, "they ran the number 2 collegiate time ever, 43.19, and claimed a non-national team American Record by 0.01."
In her senior year, 1988, she was an NCAA qualifier in the 100 (11.48), the 100 meter hurdles (13.65), and the 4 X 100. Also in '88, she qualified for the Olympic trials, where she ran in the "FloJo" World Record Quarter Final.
Andrea left FSU as a four time All American (1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988).
Never quite divorced from track, and despite the demands of her job, Andrea tries to stay involved with the sport.
"My professional career never really afforded me the time to be able to get into the coaching arena," Andrea wrote me recently, "but because of my love of track, I have always tried to stay active. I have attended track meets over the years in support of the kids who compete.
"I was primarily a hurdler/sprinter during my track career, but from 2007 to the present I have participated in road races (5K runs) to challenge myself. I ran two half marathons in 2014 (2hrs, 30mins and 2hrs,12mins).That 13.1 miles is the longest distance that I have run to date. In 2015 I participated in the USATF Masters T&F Championship in Jacksonville, and took 4th place in both the 200 and the 400 (1:07.56).
"What I will have time to do in 2016 is yet to be determined; a work in progress."
Calvin Jackson was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He attended Andrew Jackson High School, where he was named the MVP of its track team. At Bethune Cookman, he was All Conference in football (1973), Conference Champion in the discus and shot put (1975), and earned a BS in Physical Education.
Returning home to Miami, he began his coaching career at Northwestern High School as Louie Bing's assistant, eventually replacing the legendary Bing upon the latter's retirement.
As a coach now every bit as well-known and respected as his mentor, Calvin's 20 years as head of Miami Northwestern's track and field team has produced over 60 state champion athletes, and won
18 District Championships
4 Regional Championships
4 Greater Miami Athletic Conference Championships
2 State Runner-up Designations
The 1991 Boys State Championship and Coach of the Year Honor
Born in Ocala, Florida Eugene Milton attended all-Black Howard High School--named for Oliver Howard, a Civil War General, Commissioner of the Freedman's Bureau, and champion for the education of Blacks during Reconstruction--and subsequently became a champion in his own right. Attending Howard High nearly 100 years after its namesake was engaged in the battle for basic human rights, and with the desegregation of Florida still a decade ahead, Milton faced his educational and athletic challenges head-on.
As well known on the gridiron--a school record 11 touchdowns in four games; 22 touchdowns and 1260 yards his senior (1964) year--as he was on the oval that surrounded it, Eugene was a High School All American in both. It can be argued that his sprint and long jump performances are even more impressive today than they were in the 1960s: reported as 9.6 in the 100 yards, 20.9 in the 220, and 21' 9 1/2" in the long jump. Bear in mind that these occurred on a run-down cinder track, without starting blocks, or a decent runway in the LJ. (At his acceptance, Milton chuckled as he described digging a hole in the track as his foothold in the sprints!)
Despite all that he had to endure to get there, Eugene Milton was king of Florida high school track in the early 1960s. In 1962 and 1963, he won the 100, the 200, and the long jump, setting the state record in those sprints. Those records are not readily accessible, at least in an "official" sense, as his school competed in the All-Negro Florida Interscholastic Championship. However, numerous newspaper clippings from the era attest both to Eugene's talents, and his fame.
Once called "Florida's Fastest Human," this teenage boy is also credited, unofficially, with a personal best of 9.4 for 100 yards. According to an article by sportswriter Roosevelt Wilson, "Milton ran his 9.4 in Lakeland at the Rochelle High School Invitational on April 3, 1964. Although the meet was sanctioned by the Florida Interscholastic Athletic Association, it was not sanctioned by the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations."
That time could have been even faster. In those days a "team" of referees and coaches, waiting at the finish line, hand timed the runners. At least three timers would have recorded Milton's finish, and the middle time would have been rounded up to the nearest tenth. (It could have been a 9.3 something.)
Wilson also wrote that the 9.4 "equals the national high school mark held jointly by the great Jesse Owens (1933), James Jackson (1954), and Trenton Jackson (1961)."
Fame at FAMU came next. Aside from further exploits as a running back, Milton continued to lower his times in the sprints, and anchored his teammates Jim Ashecroft, Major Hazelton, and Nathanial James to 20 wins in three years in the 4 X 100, all in low "forty-point times", many of them also meet records. He ran 50 yards in 5.2 seconds (1968 Senior Bowl) and 75 yards in 7.0 seconds.
In his senior year, 1968, Eugene won 14 consecutive 100 yard races. As the anchor in Rattler's 440 relay team, he also helped them retire the James C. Patterson Challenge Cup at the Penn Relays by winning it for the third consecutive time (1966-68). By season's end, A & M claimed the SIAC Championship, and Milton earned All American honors for his fourth consecutive year.
After graduation, Eugene went on to play professional football with the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders. He has served as a football coach at Florida Memorial, Miami Central, Miami Carol City, and Miami Park.
In 1990, Eugene Milton was enshrined in the Florida A & M Sports Hall of Fame, and of course, in 2016 the Florida Track and Field Hall of Fame.
Now retired, Eugene Milton is still certified as a track official by USA Track, FHSAA, and GMAC. A living legend who is living on to watch over Florida's future hall of famers.
As a cross country and track and field coach at four schools for forty plus years--Gainesville, Buchholz, P.K. Yonge, and Newberry--Ron Norris has amassed an incredible
5 State Championships
5 State Runner-Up Trophies
6 Regional Championships
27 District Championships
12 Consecutive Suwannee Conference Championships (before it disbanded)
His athletes include two individual state champions in cross country, and 25 individual and six relay team champions in track.
He, personally, has won four State Coach of the Year awards (1989, 1992, 1995, and 2005), and nine Gainesville Sun Coach of the Year Awards.
Nathan "Nate" Robinson
Introduced to the 120 yard hurdles at Boca Raton High School, where he holds that school's record, Nate Robinson went on to continued success in the now retired event at Miami Dade Community College. There he finished sixth in the NJCAA in 1972--Honorable Mention All American--and first in the 1973 National Championship (13.8), earning All American status.
Moving on to the University of Texas, Nate tied that school's records in both the 100 yard dash (9.4) and the 120 yard hurdles (13.6), becoming a finalist in the 1974 NCAA Championship.
Robinson continued to compete after college, first with the Gulf Coast Track Club (a USTFF American in the 440 Relay and 100 yards--with a 9.3), then the Florida Track Club (1976), and the Houston Track Club (30-34, Sub-Masters National Indoor and Outdoor Champion in the 55 and 110 hurdles, respectively). His best times were 10. 3 in the 100 meters,13.5 in the 110 hurdles, and 201' in the javelin.
Once reaching the Sub-Masters 35-39 age group, Nate was the National Indoor and Outdoor Champion at 60 meters and the 110 meter hurdles, and gained further fame as a British International Champion. He currently holds the Florida Sub-Masters 100 meter (10.48) and 110 meter hurdles (13.8) records.
Sammie Smith (2015 Inductee)
(Smith pictured above with Arthur Blake, Dexter Carter, and Deion Sanders. What a group!)
Sammie attended Apopka High School from 1982-1985, where he was not only their best sprinter, but possessing both speed and size--6' 2" and 200+ poounds--was the most highly recruited football player in the state.
"My best track season was in my junior year. I won all my 100 and 220 yard races right up to the State Meet. I think the State times were 9.7 and 21.3, although I ran a 21.1 earlier that season. I won both races in the State Meet."
"As a senior, I placed second behind Stacy Simmons in the 100 yard dash (9.6), and Michael Timpson (also an inductee in various HOFs) in the 220 (20.8). In that 220 I got off to a slow start, and he had about a one yard lead on me."
Smith was a 1984 USA High School All American, and a member of the Golden South Hall of Fame.
"At FSU I was the Metro Conference Champion in the 100 and 200 my freshman and sophomore years. I think I ran 10.3 in the 100 (meters) and 20.8 in the 200, and we won the 4 X 100 relays three years in a row."
That 1988 4 X 100 relay team, besides Smith, consisted of Deion Sanders, Dexter Carter, and Arthur Blake.
Sammie's college track career ended just before his final season, as he decided to enter the NFL draft instead. Picked in the first round, ninth in the nation, by the Miami Dolphins Sammie went on to lead them in rushing for two seasons (1989-90 and 1990-91). He later played for the Denver Broncos.
In addition to the FACA Hall of Fame, Sammie is also enshrined in the Florida State Hall of Fame.
(Although actually inducted into the HOF in 2015, Sammie received his award at this year's ceremony.)
Coach of the Year Awards
Boys Track - Mark Mader Boys Cross Country - Don Staller
Girls Track - Gary Droze Girls Cross Country - Terry Smith
The clock is ticking for HOF suggestions on next year's ballot. Now is the time to start thinking of who they will be. In an age where most of us are (arguably) far too dependent upon the internet for the exchange of information, in the case of remembering those athletes who came before Jason Byrne's brainchild (flrunners.com/MileSplit), becomes more a product of memory than research.