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LEGENDS OF CROSS "GERRY LINDGREN"

Published by
NHSCA TFXC   on Oct 4 2013, 07:21 AM
[1962 & 1963 XCNation National High School Cross Country Champion; 8:06.3 Indoor 3000 meters; 8:40.00 Indoor two-mile; 4:01.5 mile;  13:17.00 3-miles; 13:44.00 5000 meters; 29:17.60 10000 meters]

In 1964, in his senior year at Rogers High School, Lindgren ran 5000 meters in 13 minutes and 44 seconds, setting a U.S. high school record for the distance that would remain unbroken for 40 years, until Galen Rupp ran 13:37.91 on July 30, 2004. Among his other records he established that year was his time of 8:40.0 in an indoor 2-mile (3.2 km) race that shattered the previous U.S. national high school mark. Over forty years later this remains the fastest U.S. schoolboy 2-mile (3.2 km) time ever run indoors (and the fourth fastest time indoors or outdoors).

MOST DON'T KNOW that Lindgren was the 1962 WIAA State Cross Country Champion avenging his 2nd place finish as a sophomore in 1961. Lindgren covered the 2.3 mile Green Lake course located in Seattle, Washington in 11:06, 4:49 per mile. In 1963 Lindgren again dominated the WIAA State Cross Country Championship with an astonishing 10:47.5, 4:41 per mile, winning by 44-seconds. It was the 1964 season that he ran 8:59 for two-miles during a cross country meet that got most alert of his true potential.

Gerry Lindgren's fastest two mile on a track before December 3, 1963 was 9:24. To show that 8:40.0 run in perspective with that era, here are some further facts about the race: A headline in the January 1964 Track & Field News read "Prep Lindgren runs Brilliant 9:00, then Fantastic 8:46". He led with quarter mile times of 61.7, 64.7 and 66.3. He was 4:19.7 at the mile. He would not let Ron Clarke help with the pace and held the lead until approximately three and a half laps to go the 13,217 spectators jumped to their feet when they heard the mile time was 4:19.7.

After that race he still had never been beaten at 2 miles indoors or out by a US citizen. 8:40.0 was 4.6 seconds faster than any US citizen had run two miles in 1963 Lindgren had taken penicillin shots for a week before the race because of a bad cold and sore throat. He became the fifth fastest US two miler ever-- either indoors or out. It was a World Junior Record and at age 17!

On July 25, 1964, Lindgren out ran two seasoned Russian runners, Leonid Ivanov and Anatoly Dutov to win the 10,000 meter event in the US-USSR Track Meet in Los Angeles.

As a high school senior, in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, he finished ninth in the 10,000 meters behind gold medalist Billy Mills after having sprained an ankle during training. Lindgren had previously beaten Mills in the Olympic Trials that year. Mills later said that a healthy Lindgren would have won gold.

Lindgren also competed against Mills in the 1965 AAU Nationals meet, where they raced the 6-mile (9.7 km). Mills won with a diving lean, while both were timed in 27:11.6, a new World Record shared by Mills and Lindgren.

Lindgren attended Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, where he majored in political science and minored in Russian language. While at Washington State, Lindgren won 11 NCAA Championships. (His only loss at an NCAA championship was to Jim Ryun in the 1968 indoor 2-mile (3.2 km) race.) He was one of only two people to ever defeat Steve Prefontaine in an NCAA Championship. (Lindgren won the 1969 NCAA Cross Country Championship in which 1968 NCAA champion Mike Ryan finished second and Prefontaine third.)
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