Saturday, January 7, 2017

V.2 #51 Andy Schramm – A Running Career of Unfulfilled Potential

I was fortunate in the late 50s and 60s, both as a runner and then as a young coach, to witness close up the high school exploits of two of Greater Cincinnati’s all-time premier distance runners.  I am referring to Andy Schramm and Reggie McAfee.  This first story is about Andy. 

Since his accomplishments were crammed into a compact period of time, my suspicion is that relatively few people are aware of Schramm’s accomplishments.  It could be argued that few, if any, Ohio distance runners experienced a senior year like his final one at Deer Park High.  From there he brought his talents to Miami University where his rocketing running career was unfortunately shortened by the effects of mononucleosis.  In order to appreciate his development, we need to first look at his high school years.

Andy entered Deer Park High School in 1958. During his first three years, he never ran cross-country.  Instead, the gridiron occupied much of his time during the fall.  Once spring came he ran on the track squad. Up until the mid-60s, the mile was the longest track distance that high school athletes could run.  Andy’s personal bests were good, but not extraordinary, during his first three years:
Upper 4:40s freshman year
Upper 4:30s sophomore year
Lower 4:30s junior year

Andy while in high school

Tom Griswold was Andy’s football and track coach.  After his junior year, they decided that a better future lay ahead in running.  Even though Deer Park did not have a cross-country team, he took up the sport during his senior year.  He was an instant success.  For many years two-miles was the standard contested cc distance in Ohio.  The Ohio State University Golf Course in Upper Arlington hosted the State Championship Meet for decades over the same route.  This continuity provided an opportunity to compare times over a wide span of years.

Andy’s Football and Track Coach – Tom Griswold

The long-standing State Meet course record was in the low 9:50s. In 1961 Andy dominated the race and shattered the course record as he won his first state meet title with a time of 9:26.4.  A number of outstanding harriers trailed, including Elmore Banton, a future NCAA cross-country champion. Schramm’s time over that course was not bettered until 1974 when Peter Kummant of Amherst Steele defended his 1973 championship with a time of 9:24.7.

Elmore Banton

Once the track season began he tested himself in April against the impressive competition that always arrived at the prestigious Mansfield Relays. Over the years seven winners at this meet later became Olympic champions. Andy was a double winner (mile and 880) as opponents from Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Canada tasted cinders behind him. 

With his record time on the State cross-country’s turf achieved, another goal on the track beckoned. In 1932 an Ohio high school runner first broke 4:30 in the mile. Then in 1936 the record dipped below 4:25.  That wasn’t bettered until 1958 when Jim Davis ran 4:23.00 at an AAU meet. 

George Brose from Dayton Belmont H.S. almost became the first Ohioan under 4:20.  On May 19, 1961 George and Warren Hand battled at the District Meet in Dayton.  Hand had previously won the state cross-country title and was to be a member of the future Roosevelt H.S. national record setting two-mile relay team.  Their epic District race resulted in the two fastest one-mile times in the state that year. George’s victory in 4:20.0 was painfully close to dipping below that venerated mark.  In fact, Brose may have been the first Ohio prep runner under 4:20.  Back then, before automatic timing, you needed three stopwatch times, to the closest tenth of a second, to make a time official. If two watches had identical marks, that was the time that would be listed.  If all three differed, the middle time was the official one.  The three stopwatches recording first place for that evening's District Meet read: 4:19.9, 4:20.0, and 4:20.1. The 4:20 barrier withstood onslaughts for yet another season, but it was about to go the next year.

George Brose running for Oklahoma

adidas Melbourne spikes worn by Brose

A track season unlike few others by an Ohio distance runner was about to take place.  Schramm broke the 4:20 mark numerous times - first with a 4:19.87 at the Lockland Relays. At his league meet he ran 4:19 flat and combined that with another victory in the 880. Later in early May he lowered his best to 4:18.00 at the Miami Relays.  At the District Meet he set a new record of 4:18.9.

There only remained the final and climactic prep meet of the season – the State Championship Meet (there were no post-season high school meets back then where the best runners in the country could challenge one another). It was held in the ‘Shoe’ within the confines of Ohio State’s football stadium. According to Dave Dennis, one of Andy’s track teammates, Coach Griswold and Schramm had epic plans for this event.

That past fall Andy demolished the record that was previously achieved on the state meet course.  Their intent was to do the same in the spring. Yes, he was already the first prep Ohioan to dip under 4:20, but their undisclosed season long preparations were geared to bring him under 4:10 around 4:08.

As the State Meet weekend approached, this headline appeared in the Enquirer, a local Cincinnati newspaper.

Paul Ritter, a sportswriter who covered high school sports for the Enquirer, described the conditions.

Gusty winds of 33 miles-per-hour were recorded the day before the finals.  This is of particular importance to Andy Schramm, Deer Park High miler who holds the state’s fastest recorded mile run at 4 minutes, 18 seconds.  Andy publicly expressed hopes of running his event under 4:15 minutes during this meeting.

Schramm’s coach, Tom Griswold, today reported that his ace was in fine condition and both felt a new mile standard was almost a certainty. Schramm runs a qualifying mile at 10:30 a.m. Friday, with the championship run set Saturday morning.

Preliminary qualifying mile races were held on Friday, the day before the finals.  Here are Ritter’s words.

Dear Park miler Andy Schramm qualified in his event with a four minute, 26.5 second run which proved the slowest time of any winner in the three heat preliminaries. Schramm was not challenged, however, running in the slowest heat and he commented later, “The qualifier is like a piece of candy.”  He indicated he had saved his energy for a possible record run Saturday.

Andy’s teammate, Dave Dennis, who was there to see the race, describes the day of the finals.

Everything was on schedule and according to plan for an outstanding performance except for one thing. The WEATHER!  On the day of the finals of the State Meet, as the milers were called to their marks, rain pelted the athletes and wind swept in through the open end of the horseshoe shaped stadium, dramatically restricting any movement as runners headed down the backstretch of the oval.  OSU’s track was composed of cinders back then.  The concrete curbing, which defined the inside of the track, stood at least two inches higher than the level of the cinders. The water on the submerged track had risen to the level of the curb and the track itself was getting softer as the meet progressed.  With those conditions, it became impossible for Andy and Coach Griswold to achieve their goal.

An illustration of the track’s condition

(Editor’s note:  for skeptics who think that a sub-4:10 may have been overreaching, be mindful that in 1969 Courter Tech’s Reggie McAfee, after running 9:28.0 over the same xc course the previous fall, ran 4:08.5 in Columbus at the State Meet.  Then, in 1971 Ron Addison, who nearly equaled Schramm’s cross-country course state mark with a 9:26.9, ran 4:05 the next spring.)

Here is how the race description appeared in the following day’s newspaper.

By Paul Ritter of The Enquirer Staff
Columbus, Ohio, May 26

It was a disappointing day, weather wise and otherwise for Cincinnati scholastic athletes here today, but Queen City entries did manage to bring home two (Ed. - one in baseball) Ohio high school spring sports championships. Andy Schramm fought a sloppy track and the driving rain to set the state mile run record of 4:21.7 minutes, shattering the old standard of 4:24.1 set last year by Toledo Libbey’s Mike Gallagher over the Ohio State University oval.

The Deer Park senior had clockings of 61 seconds for the first quarter, 2:07 for the half mile and 3:15 plus for the three-quarters.  Although Andy had little trouble in winning the event, he labored through the final 30 yards to the finish. When he lunged across the tape at the finish, nearly 15 yards in front of Euclid’s Larry Whalen, he collapsed from exhaustion.

Upon completing the race Andy pitched to the track.  Larry Whalen of Euclid, who was runner-up, attends to him.

Dennis described the finish like this:
We didn’t know if he was going to make it to the end.  When he crossed the finish line, his nose was level with the string that was stretched across the track to designate the winner.

This was a dramatic way to complete his final mile race against exclusively high school competition.  A few days after the meet Paul Ritter, wrote about Andy’s performance in his column.

With the prep season completed, Schramm traveled to Dayton in early June to compete in the annual Dayton AAU Meet.  Against more than a dozen college runners he once again dipped below 4:20 and won the mile in 4:19.1.  With only an hour of recovery, he again stood at the start line. He was about to embark on his initial three-mile race.  He placed fourth with a time of 14:54.7. 

His best mile time of the year, 4:18.0, proved to be 1962’s seventh fastest among the nation’s high school runners. Later, during that summer, foreshadowing his prowess at longer distances, Schramm set a 10,000-meter Ohio High School state record time of 33:28.6.

So, how did Schramm measure up against his current and previous high school peers?  I believe a runner’s legacy is determined by a variety of factors. Among them are:
The times that he or she achieved
Championships won
People that they defeated 

Using the above criteria, Andy certainly, at the time of his graduation in 1962, established himself as one of, if not the best ever, prep distance runners to come from Ohio. 

Now he was off to Miami University.  His Redskin (Miami’s nickname back then) class was loaded.  One of Schramm’s future teammates was Jack Bacheler.  Bacheler would compete in the NCAA steeplechase three times and achieve All-American honors for his runner-up position in 1966 while at Miami. Later he made the 1968 (5k) and 1972 (marathon) US Olympic squads. Throughout their college years Bacheler always placed behind Schramm.  Prior to his freshman year, Bacheler’s impression of his soon to be teammate was recorded in an Urban Oasis interview (

Jack Bacheler

I had heard of an Andy Schramm. There was an Andy Schramm that was the best distance runner in Ohio that was way above anything that I could run. I just heard about him from the Mansfield Relays. There was a big meet called the Mansfield Relays that we used to go down to from Michigan. It was cold, but it was a big, big thing and Andy kind of dominated that for a couple years.

Freshmen were not eligible to compete for the varsity, but in a meet against the varsity the newcomers placed six members before the first varsity runner crossed the finish line.  In an open meet they were able to defeat a couple of Big Ten varsity squads.

At the end of the fall in 1962, and again in 1966, Schramm won the Thanksgiving Day Race. This road race was one of the few available opportunities to compete outside of the school situation. Road racing and the running boom had not kicked in yet in the Midwest.

During his first indoor track season, Andy established the American freshman record for the two-mile.  His time was 8:57.2.  Bob Dickerson, a future teammate of Andy retells his experience on seeing this race.

I was a senior in high school. In February Charles Anderson, our coach, mentioned the big indoor track meet, the Mason-Dixon Games, in Louisville. He took my cousin, Ray Schraer, and me to the meet (Ray was a sophomore at Sycamore that year.) The highlight was watching Miami freshman, Andy Schramm beat America's best marathoner, Buddy Edelen, in the two mile in 8:57.2.  

When track moved outdoors, he was on the team that set the national freshman four-mile relay record.  Later in June, Andy ran in the Ohio AAU Track and Field Championships in Dayton.  He was narrowly edge by Les Hegedus, a national cross-country champion. Fifteen yards in arrears was a Quantico Marine runner by the name of Billy Mills.  The following year Mill’s was to gain some notoriety by winning the 10,000-meter Gold Medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

L-R: Les Hegedus, Andy Schramm, and Billy Mills

After a very successful freshman year at Miami, it was now time to test what it was like competing on the varsity level.  In 1963 Miami had a very strong cross-country team.

Steve Price, who was a year ahead of Schramm at Miami, describes the impact that Andy and his classmates had on the team.

When I was a sophomore, I was third man on the Miami X-C team. When I was a junior, all the super people, who Epskamp had recruited two years ago......and were not eligible as frosh under the old rules, became eligible. Now I am the tenth man on the team that was in the top 10 of the nation. 

Training on campus, although not with the team, was the veteran Bob Schul, who left Miami years earlier, joined the Air Force, became a world-class runner, and returned to earn his degree.  Bob once told me this story.

That fall I was running with the team in a cross-country meet and Schramm was hanging right with me.  At the end I narrowly beat him.

Bob Schul

As many of you know, during the summer of 1964, Schul set a world record for the two-mile distance and won the 5,000-meter run in the Olympics.

In the early to mid 1960s the Mid-American Conference (MAC) was arguably the strongest cross-country conference in the nation. During the 1963 cross-country season, Andy was the Central Collegiate, MAC, and All-Ohio individual titlist. Then he earned All-American honors while placing seventh in the NCAA Championship Meet.  Bacheler finished 17th to also earn All-American status.

Andy running cross-country

The school placed 8th (one of three MAC schools in the top ten) at the NCAAs.  In that race Schramm beat three future Olympians, Bacheler, Kenny Moore of Oregon and Mike Manley of Wisconsin.

1963 Miami Cross Country Team
Back Row, Far Left:  Jack Bacheler, Andy Schramm,?, Dave Bartel, Bill Taylor, Robbie Klink,?, Coach Bob Epscamp
Front Row: Can you identify the individual on the far left?  Answer at end of next paragraph.
L-R:?, Jim Bell, Rick Cunningham, Dave Bork, John Murphy, Craig Seabrook,?

If this were a fairytale with a storybook ending, we would be reading about his exploits in Japan while he was a member of the 1964 or later Olympic Teams.  Unfortunately, that did not happen. After his stellar 1963 cross-country season, Schramm developed mononucleosis and a series of other issues that took him out of running for a couple of seasons.
Answer - Steve Price

Here is how teammate Bob Dickerson describes his misfortunes.

Andy got mono during the winter of 1964.  During the 1964 indoor season, Andy ran a few races before he got mono. At the big meet in Louisville, he ran the 2-mile relay with Rob Klink, Rick Cunningham and Dave Bartel.  He also raced against Bob Schul in a two-mile in Cleveland. (The officials mis-counted the laps leading to some confusion!) 

Andy didn't run in the '64 outdoor season until the MAC Track Meet. Coach Epscamp was desperate to win the meet and he entered Andy in the three-mile. With Bob Schul and Jack Bacheler in the race, the best Andy could hope for was third. (Bob Schul won the mile with Rick Cunningham second and he came back to win the three-mile with Bacheler second.) 

In the three-mile, Andy started slowly and was moving up when he collapsed. He left the track on a stretcher. (I was there; I saw it.) It's my recollection that he ruptured his spleen and that's what kept him out of action in his junior year. (1964 cc and 1965 track.) 

Andy ran cc in 1965 and track in 1966 but not at the level that he did during his freshman and sophomore years.  Miami finished eighth in the NCAA CC Meet that year. During the track season, Andy ran the mile. As I recall, his times were in the 4:06 range. 

To my surprise Andy turned out for cross-country in 1966. I thought he had graduated. His wife was starting her senior year so he was going to be in Oxford anyway and he had a year of eligibility after sitting out in '64/65.
The cc team had an up and down year. I think we won the All-Ohio and finished second to eventual NCAA Champs, Western Michigan, in the Central Collegiate by one or two points.  The highlight of the season for Andy had to be his winning the MAC CC Meet, beating sub-four minute miler Sam Bair on a snowy, 6-mile course (31:00 to 31:13). Sam had won the All-Ohio CC. At the NCAA meet we finished last or near it. As I recall, at least two guys (Ed. – four) cut the course and were disqualified.  Andy had a real bad day and I finished ahead of him. 

During the 1967 track season, he helped the team set varsity records in the four-mile and distance medley relays as well as establishing a personal record of 8:53.2 for the two-mile.  This was essentially his last year of racing.

Dickerson said, “The last time I talked to Andy was in August of '67. He said he was doing some "serious jogging" but I never saw him at any races. He moved out of Ohio shortly thereafter so he could have continued racing.”

When I was researching information for this blog, I asked Greg Price, who was a decathlete at Miami during some of the time that Andy ran there, what he could tell me about Schramm.  His response was:

Andy was a ‘straight arrow.’  We didn’t run around in the same circles.

Upon leaving Miami he entered the seminary and received his doctorate of ministry from Louisville Seminary. He was ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament. 

He tried and won a marathon in 1981 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  His time was 2:32.13. 

Andy died at the age of 61 in 2005 in Marion, Indiana.

His obituary read:

The Rev. Dr. Richard Andrew Schramm was the pastor and loyal choir member of Westminster Presbyterian Church. He formerly pastored First Presbyterian Church, Morristown, Tenn., First Presbyterian Church, Jefferson City, Tenn., and West Asheville Presbyterian, Asheville, N.C.

He was a member of Whitewater Valley Presbytery, where he served on the Committee on Preparation for Ministry, and was a consultant for Congregational Development. He took six mission trips to Honduras. His community involvements included PAL Club baseball coach, CASA volunteer, past president and board member of Family Service Society, St. Martin's board member, member of the Ministerial Association and Marion Noon Rotary Club. He was a former Cub Scout and Boy Scout. He was an organ donor. He was an avid cyclist and loved hiking and backpacking.