Cougar Track's 1951 Drake Relay Record-Setters Return
April 24, 2001
PULLMAN, Wash. -- The members of the Washington State relay team that set a record at the 1951 Drake Relays are coming to Pullman for a reunion during the Second Annual Cougar Invitational Track & Field Meet, April 27-28.
The Washington State College men's two-mile relay team, composed of Lee Cave, Bill Parnell, Clem Eischen and George Stimac, set a standard of excellence 50 years ago.
In April of 1951, the quartet of WSC runners went to Des Monies, Iowa, to compete in the famed Drake Relays. The Palouse quartet left the nation's 'Heartland' with the gold medal and a Drake Relays record time of 7 minutes, 38.6 seconds in the two-mile relay, shattering the previous mark of 7:41.8 set by Drake 10 years earlier.
The WSC runners also competed in the four-mile relay at Drake that same year, and despite bettering another Drake Relays record (17:29.6) with their time of 17:22, the Cougars were barely edged out by Michigan State as the Spartans clocked in at 17:21.1.
Nonetheless, it was an impressive and not to be forgotten performance by the Cougar men. Their mark in the two-mile relay stood for 10 years until Kansas broke it in 1961. Now the race is run in meters instead of yards and is called the 4x800m relay.
The members of the famed Drake Relay two-mile team shattered the record, but their victories did not end there. At the end of the impressive 1951 season, Washington State defeated Washington 72.5-58.5, thanks to Parnell, Stimac and Cave running a three-way dead heat in the mile. The victory gave WSC the dual meet championship of the Northern Division in the Pacific Coast Conference.
All four members of the WSC relay team went on to lead successful lives after their running days on the Palouse.
Cave, a native of Wenatchee and a U.S. Navy yeoman, graduated with honors from WSC with a bachelor's degree in physical education. After earning his master's in 1958, Cave taught and coached in various high schools for 30 years, including 21 years at Columbia River. Cave was named the Washington State Track Coach of the Year in 1981.
Retired from public schools in 1983, Cave has been in insurance sales part-time since 1978. He was elected to the Washington State Coaches Association Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1996 and has been involved in WIAA track and field and cross-country activities for the past 17 years as an official and clinician. Cave and his wife of 53 years, Audrey, have five children.
Parnell, who hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, competed for his native country in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics. After graduating from WSC, Parnell taught in British Columbia for 35 years, highlighted by 31 years in North Vancouver. He retired in 1988. He and his wife Joan were married in 1951. They have four children and seven grandsons.
Eischen, a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 1948, taught and coached track at Hudson's Bay High School. His team won the State championship in 1961. He graduated from the Stanford University Physical Therapy program in 1962 and was a physical therapist in private practice until 1992. He is the president of the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. Eischen holds five U.S. patents and several foreign patents. A highlight of his career was being a member of the sports medicine staff at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Eischen and his wife Nancy have been married for 42 years and have three children.
George Stimac, a Cle Elum native, served two years in the Army after graduation from WSC. He was a pharmacy intern at Tuft's Drug Store in Yakima, and then moved to Seattle in 1955. Stimac started his own pharmacy in Seattle, the Market Street Pharmacy, and just recently sold the business to his son John. He married Beverly Olson in 1959. They had three children and four grandchildren before she passed away in 1989. In 1996 Stimac married Evelynn Cava and they are now owners of Ballard Plaza Pharmacy. The couple enjoys golfing, hiking, cross-country skiing and walking, as well as spending time with their children. Stimac's personal hobby is power lifting and he is the National AAU Champion and State Champion for his age and weight group.
This relay team will be introduced at the Mooberry Track finish line during the high school portion of the Cougar Invitational, Saturday, April 28, at 12:15 p.m.