The History of Track & Field at WA

The long history of the sport of Track and Field at Worcester Academy is defined by a tradition of excellence. The first mention of Worcester Academy Athletics, as today's sport of Track and Field was known prior to the twentieth century, appeared in the Worcester Spy of April 18, 1878. The newspaper reported on what may have been the first indoor track meet ever held at Worcester's historic Mechanic's Hall. The competitors were the boys of the Technical School (now W.P.I.), Worcester Academy and the Worcester High Schools. The Worcester Academy boys won the Interscholastic Cup.

Athletics were firmly entrenched in the culture of Worcester Academy when the sports of Baseball (1884) and Football (1896) made their first appearances on campus.

View Program Goals and Track & Field Boys and Girls Records here

Bascom Johnson, Worcester Academy class of 1896, and Arthur Duffey, 1899, became the first of nine Hilltopper Track and Field Olympians when they competed for the United States of America at the Paris Olympics of 1900. Johnson's specialty was the pole vault and Duffey's, the 100 meter dash. Duffey was the favorite to win the 100, but he pulled a muscle in the semi-finals and was not able to compete in the final. After the Olympics, Duffey continued his running career at Georgetown University, where from 1901 to 1903 he won three IC4A titles in the 100 yard dash. In 1902 his world record time of 9-3/5 seconds earned him the title of World's Fastest Human.

Charles French, 1905, competed in the 300 yard dash at the London Olympics of 1908. L. A. Whitney, 1910, won Bronze in the shot put at the Stockholm Olympics of 1912, where he was joined by high jumper, J. Oliver Johnstone who had graduated in June of that year from the Academy. At the 1924 Paris Olympics, Worcester was again represented by two alums. Bill Comins, 1921, captured the Bronze medal in the broad jump and Willard Tibbetts, 1922, won Bronze in the 3000-meter team run.

In 1937, John Wallace, a graduate of Commerce High School in Worcester, spent a post-graduate year at Worcester Academy. That spring he set the W.A. record of 49.4 seconds for the 440 yard dash, a record that still stands today. After graduation he matriculated at the College of the Holy Cross where he was undefeated throughout his collegiate track career in the 440 and 880 yard runs. He anchored the Crusader mile relay to the championship at the Penn Relays, which was the most prestigious collegiate meet of the time. Wallace's best chance at the Olympics would have been in 1944; instead, he was flying fighter planes for the Navy, earning Ace Pilot Status during World War II. He was named to the Holy Cross Hall of Fame in 1985.

Bill Toomey, the 1968 Olympic Decathlon Champion at Mexico City, graduated from Worcester Academy in 1957. He moved on to the University of Colorado where he began a ten year domination of American and world Pentathlon and Decathlon competitions. In 1969 he set the World Record of 8,309 points for the Decathlon.

Jeff Bannister, 1965, finished second at the U.S. Olympic Trials and followed Toomey to the Olympics, competing in the Decathlon at the Munich Games of 1972. Bannister earned All America Status as a basketball player while at Worcester Academy and excelled in the sport at The University of New Hampshire. He also pitched for the Wildcats baseball team, his catcher, Red Sox Hall of Famer, Carlton Fisk.

In 1975, the year after the school resumed admitting girls to the student body, the first WA girls Track and Field team was formed. Carol Goldsberry was a member of the 440 yard relay team of 1983 that set a school record of 54.5 seconds that still stands. In 2013, Carol was the recipient of the Worcester Academy Distinguished Alumna Award for her work at the Environmental Protection Agency. In 1986, the 400 meter relay replaced the 440 yard relay. In 2012, Carol's daughter, Sidney Tucker, was a member of the New England Champion and school record 400 meter relay team that established a new standard of 50.51 seconds.

Jillian Marois, 2012, set school records in the Pole Vault, where she was a two-time New England Champion, and in the 300 meter low hurdles, where she medaled four consecutive years in the same meet. Jill also anchored the school record and New England Champion 1600 meter relay. Jill is the all time Women's Track and Field career high scorer at Worcester Academy with 542 points. Jill went on to High Point University in North Carolina where she broke the school record and captured multiple Big South Conference Championships in the pole vault.

Other recent Worcester Academy Track and Field graduates of note include Robert Gilchrist, 2010, New England Champion in the High Jump who went on to Florida State University where he played basketball for the Seminoles. Peter Hagermoser, 2011, won the shot put and the discus at the 2011 New England Meet and went on to play football at the University of Northern Michigan. Canaan Severin, 2012, tied the school record at 200 meters and anchored the New England Champion and School Record 1600 meter relay. Canaan went on to the University of Virginia where he played wide receiver and captained the Cavalier football team. Canaan signed a contract to play football with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016. Olivier Betu, 2012, captured the silver medal in the Long Jump at the 2012 New England Championship and went on to the University of California at Davis where he played basketball for the Aggies. Jordan Lucas, also a member of the very talented class of 2012, took silver at the New England Meet in his specialty, the 110 meter high hurdles, and teamed with Severin in the 1600 meter relay. Jordan started three years in the Penn State defensive backfield and was named a semi-finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2014 and All Big 10 Honorable Mention. Jordan was drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins.

Madeline Ojerholm, 2013, set school records in the 100 and 200 meter dashes and ran a leg of the 2011 New England Champion and school record setting 400 meter relay. In 2012, the team she anchored tied that record. Maddie continued her career running for the Colby College White Mules.

John Pietro, 2014, the team's leading scorer in his junior and senior years, scored 325 career points. John was a two-year medalist at the New England Meet in both the Shot Put and the Discus, an event he won in 2013. An unfortunate injury slowed him considerably at the end of his senior season; however, this was not before he set the school record in the discus. John is continuing his Track and Field career at Bowdoin College.
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