“With a shade better group performance Saturday at Modesto, these boys could possibly bring home a first place trophy,’’ stated head coach Ed Tucker, after his Vaqueros finished second in the Southern California championships. The quote was given to El Vaquero Sports Editor John Christie and appeared in the June 5, 1959 edition of the school paper.
Nearly 50 years later, the accomplishments of the team that is being honored tonight for winning the first state championship in Glendale College’s history, still ranks among the school’s greatest athletic achievements. It was a stunning effort to behold as Tucker’s squad scored 56 points to completely outpace both College of the Desert and Long Beach, which had 34 and 34 points respectively.
Even more impressive was the fact that of the nine men that competed for Glendale College that day, none placed lower than fourth place, and each scored points that contributed to the victory. “As in the conference and Southern California finals, no one thought we had a chance to do as well as we did, because coming into the state meet, we had no really outstanding performers,’’ Tucker said.
What Tucker did get that fateful day in Modesto was inspired performances at the perfect time from each of his athletes. Hurdler Ken Overholser won the high hurdles in 14.4 to set a school record and then finished second in the 220-yard low hurdles in 23.5 to get his squad off and running, so to speak. Team captain John Mallery finished fourth in the 220 hurdles in 23.8.
High jumpers Art Trousdale and Gene Zubrinsky tied for second place with leaps of 6-foot-2 1/2 inches. Bob Jackson and Bill Hilberg had third place finishes in the mile and two-mile. In the pole vault, Bob Johnson finished fourth with a mark of 13-feet-6 inches.
Jackson set a school record in the mile with a time of 4:18.2 and shaved a second off the record he had set the previous week. Hilberg finished third in the two-mile in 9:46.7. The mile-relay team closed out the Glendale scoring as they ran third to Oakland and Long Beach in 3:18.3. By then, the outcome of the meet had been decided and the unheralded Vaqueros could celebrate the first state championship in school history in any sport.
In the half century since the 1959 Glendale College Track Team raised that first championship trophy; both the track and field and cross country programs have consistently been among the most successful teams in school history. Track and field won a second state title in 1975 while the men’s cross country teams won state titles in 1974, 1976, 1980, 1995 and 1998. The women’s cross country team, who has won state titles in 1977, 1979 and 1980, has also had great success as they went undefeated to win the state championship in 2007.
The foundation of success that was built by the 1959 Glendale College Track Team will never be forgotten, and their accomplishment will serve as a legacy to future GCC track and field teams.