02 Aug

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Three Longhorns to be Inducted in Texas Track & Field Hall of Fame

hall3WYLIE, Texas - Three of the six inductees in the 2015 Texas Track & Field Hall of Fame Class have ties to the University of Texas.

Former coaches Bubba Thornton and Sue Humphrey, and former athlete Dean Smith will be inducted Jan. 9, 2015 during a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza in Addison, Texas.

Thornton was the Texas head men's track and field coach from 1996-2013 and Humphrey a women's assistant from 1984-89. Smith was a sprinter who competed in the 1952 Olympics.

Amy Acuff, Dave Clark and Early Young round out the sixth-annual class.

2015 Texas Track & Field Hall of Fame Class

Amy Acuff

From Corpus Christi Cal Allen High School, Acuff is a 5-time Olympian high jumper with a personal best of 2.01m (6' 7" – Zurich, August 15, 2003).  She competed in the 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympics.  Despite not having a high jump coach in high school, she earned 1993 Track & Field News High School Athlete of the Year accolades by setting the high school record of 6' 4" – which still stands.

A 7-time world champion finalist, Acuff owns 6 USA Outdoor Championship titles ('95, '97, '01, '03, '05, '07), 5 USA Indoor Championship titles ('01, '04, '07, '08, '09), 3 NCAA Indoor Championships (UCLA – '94, '95, '97), 2 NCAA Outdoor Championships (UCLA – '95, '96), 2 National Scholastic Indoor Championships ('91, '92), 1 Pan Am Junior Championship ('93), and 1 World University Games title ('97).  Acuff's six USA Outdoor Championships ties her with Elenor Montgomery for 2nd most in US history, trailing the legendary Alice Coachman.

"At age 22, she became the Universiade Champion, beating Monica Iagar in the '97 high jump final; she was also named winner of the 1998 Hochspring mit Musik meeting in Arnstadt, Germany, the first non-European winner in the event's history."

A relative of country music legend Roy Acuff, Amy has also enjoyed the spotlight as a model with appearances in Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Maxim, Vogue, US, et al.  She is married to retired pole vaulter Tye Harvey, and she's featured in the High Jump Instructor app, complete with video clips and teaching techniques.

Dave Clark

Dave Clark was the number three vaulter behind Don Bragg and Ron Morriss on the United States 1960 Olympic team.  Clark jumped for North Texas State University and soared a personal best of 15' 3".  At Rome he tied for 18th place at 4.20 meters – 13' 9".

"During the event he had made the opening height when a sudden storm struck the event.   When the storm ceased, he took a warm up jump on a runway that was parallel to the actual vaulting runway.  Part way through that jump he bailed out and instead of dropping into the pit, he was projected horizontally through the pit and slid across the grass and hit the concrete curbing of the track injuring his shoulder.  That pretty much ended his day.  He said he made friends with one of the Russian vaulters, Petrinka, but the KGB lads quashed their contacting each other in Rome.

"Another interesting story includes the Russian who broke his ankle warming up.  When their poles were being inspected before the competition, Dave noticed that the Russian had put more layers of tape on his pole than were allowed and he called him on it.  The officials made him take the tape off and re-wrap it.  The Russian was infuriated about this and was raising a lot of hell with everybody.  Unfortunately for him his day was over quickly when he broke his ankle landing in the vault box.  Dave came home, got his Masters, and was a teacher for 38 years in the Dallas area." – from the blog Once Upon a Time in the Vest.

At the 1960 NCAA Championships in Berkley, CA, Clark tied for 2nd at 14' 6".

Sue Humphrey

The only female coach to have NCAA champions in the high, long and triple jumps, Humphrey has coached 3 of the 8 American women high jumpers over 6' 6" and 3 men over 7' 4", including Charles Austin, whom she coached to Olympic Gold in 1996.  Currently serving as the National Women's Track & Field Chair for USATF, Humphrey has worked an assistant track and field coach at Arizona State, Cal State-Long Beach, and the University of Texas.

From 1984-89, while at the University of Texas, she helped the women's team to 4 NCAA team championships.  In 1985, she was named Head Coach of Team USA Track & Field delegation at the IAAF World Cup.  In 1987, she was named Head Coach of Team USA Track & Field for the Pan American Games.  In 1992 & '96, she was a member of the US Olympic Team staff.  In 2004, she was honored as the Head Women's Olympic Track & Field Coach.

Humphrey has trained professional, high school and middle school track & field athletes in the jumps, throws, sprints, and hurdles throughout the United States; in addition, she has also trained professional and high school women's basketball players who have played in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the WNBA.

Dean Smith

He fist fought Kirk Douglas and George C. Scott.

He dressed in drag as Maureen O' Hara's double in John Wayne's McLintock.

He taught Goldie Hawn to speak Texan.

In a remarkable career as a Hollywood stuntman, Dean Smith performed in over 100 movies and worked with legends like John Wayne, Robert Culp, Michael Landon, Steve Martin, Strother Martin, Robert Redford, Roy Rogers, and James Garner.  In fact, Garner helped Smith land his first work on the television series Cheyenne.

Before Smith headed West, he attended the University of Texas where he competed in both football and track.  At the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, he placed 4th in the 100 meters yet earned gold as a member of the 400-meter relay team.  At UT, Smith ran the 100-yard dash in 9.4 seconds, 1/10th of a second of the world record of the time.  Smith also played professional football for the Los Angeles Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers, but never played in a regular-season game.

Born in Breckenridge, Smith has been inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame (2006) and the Stuntman's Hall of Fame (2007), was named All-American Cowboy (1997), and received the Golden Boot Award (1998) and the Silver Spur Award (2007).

Bubba Thornton

A true Texan, Thornton was born and educated in north Texas and spent his entire post-athlete career in Texas.  A football and track standout at TCU, Thornton played wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills from 1969-70; he finished 3rd in the AFL his rookie season in kickoff return average at 25 yards per return.  After professional football, Thornton doubled as A.D. and head football coach at his alma mater – Keller HS.  In 1982, he returned to his college alma mater – TCU – as its head track coach.

In 31 seasons at the helm of a collegiate program (18 at the University of Texas), Coach Thornton produced 26 NCAA Champions, 1 relay champion and 20 NCAA top-10 finishes; as well, his athletes collected 222 All-America honors.  His squads won 12 conference championships, and at the time of his retirement, his UT athletes held 18 of 29 indoor school records and 14 of 29 modern outdoor school records.  For his accomplishments, he was named head coach of Team U.S.A.'s 2008 Olympic Men's Team that competed in Beijing.  Shortly after, he was awarded the Order of Ikkos medallion "for his service to the United States Olympics Committee."

"Prior to his selection as head Olympic coach, Thornton led Team U.S.A. at the 2003 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Paris, France.  He helped the team to a meet-high 20 medals, including 10 golds."

Among the athletes he has coached are:  Marquise Goodwin, Trey Hardee, Andra Manson, Raymond Stewart, and Leo Manzano.

As a head coach, Thornton led teams to 20 Top 10 NCAA finishes, 32 Top 20 NCAA finishes, and was named Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year 6 times.

Earl Young

In 1960, Earl Young became the youngest track athlete to ever win a medal at the Olympic Games.  He was 19 when he took the baton as 2nd leg from teammate Jack Yerman as part of the gold-medal 4x400 relay team in Rome.  The squad's time of 3:02.2 set an Olympic and world record.

Young was recruited to Abilene Christian out of his home state of California by head coach Oliver Jackson.  Jackson's brilliant plan was to fly to California and bring a secret weapon to help close the deal:  ACU legend and Olympian Bobby Morrow.  At Abilene Christian, Young sprouted to 6' 4" and possessed a full-gallop stride of 8 feet.  Legend has it that Young was so well conditioned that Coach James Blackwood once took Young's pulse while sleeping and found his resting heart rate to be 31 beats per minute.

In the 1960 Olympics, Young also competed in the open 400, finishing 6th with a time of 45.9, tying the previous Olympic record.  Young appeared on the June 19, 1961 cover of Sports Illustrated, won a silver medal in the 400 at the Pan American Games in Sao Paulo and was a member of American national teams that traveled to Moscow, Poland and Britain.  Twice named Mr. ACU (1961 & '62), Young was inducted into ACU's Sports Hall of Fame in 1989.

Content courtesy of The University of Texas Athletic Department

Part-time journalist turned full-time blogger, Brian is an online staff writer at Horns Illustrated and serves as senior staff writer for digital marketing agency Speak Social. Brian currently resides in Austin and you can read his blog at the following address: briankendall.wordpress.com