On Saturday, Pittsburg State Men’s Track and Field made history as they captured for the first time ever the NCAA Division II Indoor National Championship inside their state-of-the-art facility, Robert W. Plaster Center.
Throughout the decades, Pitt State Track and Field continue to have standout athletics such as Christie Allen, Rick Simoncic, Brian Mooreman, and Garrett Appier, just to name a few, break records in their events. The latest Gorilla standouts, Bo Farrow, SR. threw 18.96 to clutch the National Championship in the Shot Put event while Tanner McNutt, SR took 2nd in the Men’s Heptathlon and Ian Duncan, JR. continues to impress in the Men’s High Jump, recently taking 2nd place in the event.
Pitt State Women’s 2016 Track and Field Team also made history when they captured the NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championship.
But, did you know Pitt State has an alumnus who was a world class long jumper? He was narrowly beat out for the 1936 Olympics on the final attempt by Jesse Owens, who went on to the Gold.
In 1933, Kermit Clifford King came to Pittsburg, Kansas to attend school at Kansas State Teachers College, now named Pittsburg State University, to be a part of the field and track team. For those of you who don’t know, Kermit King was an African American, and keep in mind this was a time of segregation.
However, thanks to the legendary Doc Weede, who was instrumental in early racial diversity in college athletics, athletes like King had the opportunity to not only receive a college education, but to also have an amazing athletic career. In fact, Doc Weede went as far as to stop playing Arkansas in football because our African American athletes were not welcome. The athletics were also not welcome in many places in Pittsburg either, but that didn’t hinder their determination to succeed.
According to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, King just missed qualifying for the 1936 Olympic Team at the sixth and final jump when a competitor knocked him from a qualifying position. He was the USA champion and ranked second in the world behind Jesse Owens in 1937. King also won the NCAA title in 1937, as well as AAU and Pan American titles. King never lost a long jump competition in 30 meets, never lost an event in dual meets or in a conference meet where he won 11 consecutive individual titles.
Eighty years later, King still holds the outdoor long jump record of 25-10 ½ at Pittsburg State. The longevity of his record is testament to what an amazing athlete he was. The Pitt State indoor long jump record of 25-8 is currently held by Keene Scholes in 2014 and Louis Rollins in 2016
After making his mark at Pittsburg State as an athlete, King went on to a distinguished international career in higher education. The PSU Meritorious Achievement Award was presented posthumously to him in 2003.
To learn more about who played on the Crawford County sports teams, visit the Crawford County Historical Museum and take a look through our collection of high school and Kanza year books.