If you have seen the photo, you can never forget the significance. The year was 1928 and Frank Wykoff was a Glendale High senior competing in the United States Olympic Trials at the Los Angeles Coliseum. With the tunnel of the Coliseum in the background and dirt under his feet, the 18-year-old Wykoff hit the tape wearing the big “G” on his Glendale uniform.
Wykoff tied the Olympic Record that day when he won the 100 meters in 10.6 and also tied the World Record in the 200 meters in 20.45. A month later at the U.S. Olympic Finals, he tied the World Record in the 100 four times and his status as a sprinting legend was sealed forever when he won gold medals in the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympic Games in the 4 x 100 meter relay.
In 1929, Wykoff spent one year at Glendale Junior College so that he could train one more season with his high school coach, Normal Hayhurst. He was close to death the previous fall with a severe throat infection but recovered enough in the spring to tie the world record four times as a sprinter for Glendale.
That year really put Glendale Junior College on the map in terms of athletics. The college was established in 1927 and just two years later, Wykoff tied the world record four separate times in the 100 and won the National Junior College Championship in that event.
By the time Wykoff ran for the team that was then known as “The Buccaneers” at Glendale College, he was already a world record holder and widely considered the world’s fastest human being despite finishing fourth in the 100 at the 1928 Olympics.
In 1930, while a student at USC, Wykoff cemented his reputation as the world’s fastest human when he set the world record of 9.4, a time established without the use of starting blocks and a mark that lasted for 17 years.
After competing in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, Wykoff essentially retired from competition and started working for the Carpenteria School District as an elementary school teacher. The lure of a final shot at Olympic Gold was too strong and he returned to training and competition in 1936 and won his third gold medal in the 4x100 relay in a world record time of 39.8.
He retired from competition for good after the 1936 games and worked for many years as an administrator for the Carpenteria and Alhambra School Districts. He died on New Year’s Day in 1980.