By Kelly Kennedy, Social Media Editor
This November, the 1973 Men’s Indoor Track and Field team was inducted to the 2022 class of Manhattan College Hall of Fame. The 1973 Track and Field team is the only Division I team to win a NCAA National Championship in Manhattan College history.
“50 years ago this February, Manhattan College stunned the track world by winning the NCAA team title for Indoor Track and Field,” said Marianne Reilly, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “This group of talented Jasper performers deserved the recent recognition from the Manhattan College Athletic Hall of Fame. We continue to be proud of this outstanding accomplishment.”
“That year, Mike Keogh won the two-mile run in 8:38, beating David Wottle of Bowling Green. Wottle was the Olympic champion in the two-mile run at the 1972 Munich Olympics. That season, Clifford Bruce and Ken McBryde finished third in the 1000m and triple jump, respectively. In 1973, the Jaspers also won the IC4A championship and the metropolitan championships for the third straight season,” according to GoJaspers.
The Jaspers swept all three track and field championships that year, according to their Hall of Fame presentation sponsored by Jim Keeney. On Feb. 19, 1973, Manhattan won their third consecutive Metropolitan Intercollegiate Track Championship. On March 4, they won the 52nd Annual IC4A Indoor Track Championship.
And on March 10 1973, the Jaspers won the 9th Annual NCAA National Indoor Track Championship and set the new World Record in the final event, the Distance Medley Relay.
“With several teams tied for first in scoring, it all came down to the last race, the final of the Distance Medley Relay on Saturday. The Manhattan team of John Lovett, Ray Johnson, Joe Savage and Tony Colon had qualified for the final on Friday with the fastest time. In the Saturday final, Lovett ran 1:53.2 for the leadoff half mile, Johnson ran 50.4 for the quarter, Savage ran a blazing ¾ mile in 2:55.9 and handed the relay baton to Colon in first place. As the relay’s anchor leg, Colon ran the fastest mile of all relay participants in 4:04.3. Manhattan won by almost 5 seconds and set a new world record of 9:43.8 on an 11-lap banked track,” according to the Manhattan College Athletic Hall of Fame Nomination Application for the 2022 Hall of Fame.
This was a historical win for Manhattan College, as it was the smallest school to compete in Division 1 NCAA indoor track and field.
15 letters of recommendation from Track Alumni showed the immense support that the community had for honoring the team. Eight of the letters were from current Manhattan Hall of Fame members, and two from current coaching staff.
Today, Lovett still shows his Jasper pride, as an Assistant Coach for the Track and Field Team.
“When reminiscing about this team, one word always comes to mind and that is FEARLESS. This team consisted of local talent from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. These men arrived at Manhattan College with the sole purpose to be champions. Nothing, nothing was going to get in their way to be number one,” Lovett wrote in a letter to the Hall of Fame committee. “The year 1973 demonstrated this best with winning the prestigious IC4A and following up with the National Championship. Also, in 1973 every member of this national team had shattered a Manhattan College school record from the three mile to the 880 including the World record in the distance Medley relay. There was a certain swagger and self confidence that could not be taught. This team has a great work ethic and was supported by superior coaches Fred Dwyer and Frank (Gags) Galiano.”
Because of their many achievements and comradery, the entire 1973 team was nominated for the Hall of Fame induction.
Mike Keogh, class of 1973 and MC Hall of Fame member ‘84, wrote in his nomination email, “I would remiss in not stating that it would be better honored by the “entire team” being inducted in my humble opinion. Those of us who did compete had the support and dedication of all members of the track and field team at that time and that gave, not just myself, but all the guys who competed the incentive to win.”
The significance of the 1973 Men’s Indoor Track and Field team withstands the test of time, as Manhattan’s first and only NCAA Division 1 Championship. On Saturday Nov. 12 2022, they were awarded for this achievement, and the team became members of the 43rd class of the Manhattan College Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame now consists of 263 members, according to GoJaspers.