Trackline: Tracking Saginaw’s Track Stars
Jewel Pearson

Saginaw County has had a lot of very successful track athletes come and go through the past century. Some broke records, some went to college and became all-Americans, and some made it in professional sports. I know I was shocked to find out that many great local athletes who did so well in track also did well in other sports. I personally think that track is an underrated sport, because of the time of year it falls in. People always tend to hear about how football or basketball is doing, but by the time track is over school is out. Unless you read the paper you never hear too much about track.

In 1910 the high schools had track meets, but you really didn't hear much about it because most schools at that time didn't have track programs and the state didn’t have a final meet to determine the best in each event. The 1920's were the first time Saginaw High had an indoor track team. It started in January, but there weren't too many meets due to the lack of places to run.1933 was the first time the state meet was run at Saginaw High. That day Saginaw High runner Bob Kolbe blasted to a first place in the 100-yard dash with the time of 10.0. He was also on a the winning 880 meter relay team with Earl Perry, Burnell Tareton, and Gavin Saunders, and the team posted a time of 1.33.8. What's kind of ironic is that Bob has a grandson that won the state meet in the 200 meter dash and also the 400 meter dash (Tany). I bet he would be proud if he could see that.

In the 1930's a man named Bill Watson, otherwise referred to as a "one-man track team," ran for Saginaw High. He also played football and basketball for the Trojans. Some people say that he was the best all-around track man to ever come out of Saginaw High. He excelled in the shot- put, hurdles, broad jump, high jump, as well as the discus. In 1934 he won the high jump with a high of 5 feet -11inches and won the shot-put with a throw of 48 feet and 7 3/4 inches. The following year he stole first place in the three events, taking the high jump with a height of 6-1 ¼, the broad jump with a leap of 22 feet 4 inches, and the discus with a record-breaking throw of 53-10 3/8. After high school, he went on to attend the University of Michigan where he honed his skills and became faster and stronger. By the time he left he had become the first Black captain and held several records. Some say that he could have gone to the Olympics and won, but because of the war going on his dreams were crushed. Instead, he just ended up running for the American Amateur Athletic Union, also known as the AAU. He became a Detroit police officer and later died in 1950 (Tany 377).

When the first track title came to Saginaw, it was won by the 'High". The coach was Chester Stackhouse, and he had on the average of 150 boys out for the team every year he coached. He coached from 1933 to 1939; later he went on to coach at U of M, where he was the freshman coach and also encouraged many of his former tracksters to go (Tany 378).

In the 1940's, there was a track coach for Saginaw High named Herb Korf. He coached track for seven years and won seven state titles (Tany 368). His first title came in 1945, and they won it five times in a row. This was truly something that is very hard to do at Class A school. When he left coaching, he wanted to start a meet with all the local talent. Therefore, in 1970 he formed a meet and it is still running today. In addition, he has a scholarship named after him and all the money that they make from the meet goes towards the fund (Tany 386).

The other track standout of the 1970's was Reggie Jones. He was truly something special to watch. He went to Saginaw High from 1970 to 1974. In that time he had several state titles in the 100, 200, and the 880 yard relays. After high school, he received a full ride track scholarship to Tennessee where he really shined. He had titles in the 60, 100, and 200-yard dashes in college. He was close to going to the Olympics but fell short because of injuries (Tany 375).

At the end of the 1990s, there was a great rivalry brewing in Saginaw Township. Two kids from dueling schools found themselves race constantly against each other: Charles Rogers of Saginaw High and Stuart Schweigert of Heritage. Both stars were a lot of fun to watch, but one track star won most of the time. Charles Rogers, or "Chuck" as his friends called him, won most of the time when the two met. It was always close, but Chuck always seemed to beat him when it mattered. However, everybody has their bad day, and during the Class A State Finals, Chuck had his. Rogers was expected to beat Stu, but when it was all said and done Stu was the one crossing the finish line first. Apparently Rogers had a bad start and Stu just had a really good day (Tany 394). That was the last time that he would win the match up. Both Rogers and Stu are two amazing athletes and a lot of fun to watch. I felt like I was watching history when I watched them race. They always seem to give the crowd what they wanted, and I loved watching every race

All the track stars I mentioned were standouts and worked hard to get where they are. John Smith says, "In order to be good in this sport you have to practice, practice, practice. You have to run hills, lift weights, and run distance for endurance." And it's true. I know personally I have a long way to go, but I know deep down I could be just as good as some of the people I read about. However, my event is the hurdles, so it's a lot different than just running. It's an event that requires good rhythm and timing. It's good to be tall, but some of the best hurdlers are only about 5'8 to 6'2. My coach, Steve Syring, always says, "Some guys are short yet they're just tall enough to get over the hurdles."

Works Cited

  • Michigan High School Athletic Assc. 2000. <.www.mhsaa.com>.
  • Tany, Jack B. Glory: The History of Saginaw County Sports. Michigan: Cubby Bear Prod., 2000.
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