Former World Record High Jumper Les Steers Passes Away

Jan. 30, 2003

EUGENE - Les Steers, a former world recorder in the high jump and University of Oregon student-athlete, passed away Thursday, Jan. 23, 2003.

Born June 16, 1917 in Rhonerville, Calif., he competed for the Ducks one season in 1941, after transferring from Stanford. The 6-4, 190-pounder won NCAA (6-10 7/8), national AAU (6-9) and Northern Division (6-8) titles for the Ducks and set three world records that season.

His first raised the world record mark to 6-10 in a dual meet against Washington (2.10m, 4/26/41), then to 6-10 1/2 in a meet in Los Angeles, (2.105m, 5/24/41), then to 6-11 in the Pacific Coast Conference-Big Ten meet (2.11m, 6/17/41). His world record stood for 12 years until fellow American Walter Davis broke the mark with a leap of 2.12 meters in 1953.

During his career, Steers won or tied for three national AAU outdoor titles (1939, 6-8; 1940 6-8; 1941 6-9), and also competed for the San Francisco Olympic Club. In 1974, he was inducted into a national track and field hall of fame, and he was enshrined in the University of Oregon Hall of Fame in 1996.

Steers was known for his 'belly roll' jumping style - a version of the Western straddle that he initially developed under the guidance of former Stanford coach James Templeton, an Olympic high jumper himself in 1920 (DQ) and 1924 (fourth).

Steers' impact on the Duck team extended to several other events. Boosting a 1941 Duck squad that wasn't as deep as previous seasons, Steers won the javelin in the Washington dual (191-4) and also tied for first in the high hurdles with teammate Zenas Butler and placed in the shot put (third, 44-7 1/2) that same meet.

Steers had also competed in an array of events in the 1939 World University games, and won the high jump (6-2 3/4), took second in the javelin (204-1) and third in the pentathlon (2,998).

He was also reported by former Duck track star Mack Robinson to have cleared seven feet in an unofficial competition in a half-time basketball exhibition at McArthur Court - with the first seven foot leap officially recognized 15 years later in 1956.

After his collegiate career, he later became a salesman in Portland, Oregon, and also was listed by another source as working in the wood industry.

The former resident of Richland, Wash., Steers is survived by his wife of 62 years, Marjorie, sister Alice Wentworth of Paducah, Kent., son Les Steers Jr. (wife Phyllis) of Camas, Wash., daughters Carolyn Sargent (husband Fred) of Richland, Wash., Jane Minckler (husband Michael) of Bend, Ore., and Susan Howell (husband Dean) of Tigard Ore., and 10 grandchildren and eighth great-grandchildren.

The family is asking for any donations to be made to the University of Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, Eugene, (541) 346-5433.


HIGH JUMP WORLD RECORD PROGRESSION

2, 45 m     Javier Sotomayor, CUB, 27 Jul 1993, Salamanca2, 44 m     Javier Sotomayor, CUB, 29 Jul 1989, San Juan2, 43 m     Javier Sotomayor, CUB, 08 Sep 1988, Salamanca2, 42 m     Patrik Sjoberg, SWE, 30 Jun 1987, Stockholm2, 41 m     Igor Paklin, URS, 04 Sep 1985, Kobe2, 40 m     Rudolf Povarnitsyn, URS, 11 Aug 1985, Donetsk2, 39 m     Zhu Jianhua, CHN, 10 Jun 1984, Eberstadt2, 38 m     Zhu Jianhua, CHN, 22 Sep 1983, Shangai2, 37 m     Zhu Jianhua, CHN, 11 Jun 1983, Beijing2, 36 m     Gerd Wessig, GDR, 01 Aug 1980, Moscow2, 35 m     Dietmar Megenburg, FRG, 26 May 1980, Rehlingen2, 35 m     Jacek Wszola, POL, 25 May 1980, Eberstadt2, 34 m     Vladimir Jashtshenko, URS, 16 Jun 1978, Tbilisi2, 33 m     Vladimir Jashtshenko, URS, 02 Jun 1977, Richmond2, 32 m     Dwight Stones, USA, 04 Aug 1976, Philadelphia2, 31 m     Dwight Stones, USA, 19762, 30 m     Dwight Stones, USA, 11 Jul 1973, Munich2, 29 m     Pat Matzdorf, USA, 03 Jul 1971, Berkeley2,.29 m     Ni Chih-Chin, CHN, 08 Nov 1970, Shangsha2, 28 m     Valeriy Brumel, URS, 21 Jul 1963, Moscow2, 27 m     Valeriy Brumel, URS, 29 Sep 1962, Moscow2, 26 m     Valeriy Brumel, URS, 22 Jul 1962, Palo Alto2, 25 m     Valeriy Brumel, URS, 31 Aug 1961, Sofia2, 24 m     Valeriy Brumel, URS, 16 Jun 1961, Moscow2, 23 m     Valeriy Brumel, URS, 18 Jun 1961, Moscow2, 22 m     John Thomas, USA, 01 Jul 1960, Palo Alto2, 195 m    John Thomas, USA, 01 Jul 60, Stanford2, 18 m     John Thomas, USA, 24 Jun 1960, Bakersfield2, 17 m     John Thomas, USA, 21 May 1960, Cambridge2, 17 m     John Thomas, USA, 30 Apr 1960, Philadelphia2, 16 m     Yuriy Stepanov, URS, 13 Jul 1957, Leningrad2, 15 m     Charles Dumas, USA, 29 Jun 1956, Los Angeles2, 12 m     Walter Davis, USA, 27 Jun 1953, Dayton2, 11 m     Lester Steers, USA, 17 Jun 1941, Los Angeles2.105 m     Lester Steers, USA, 24 May 1941,  Los Angeles2, 10 m     Lester Steers, USA, 26 Apr 1941, Seattle2, 09 m     Bill Stewart, USA, 26 Apr 19412, 09 m     Melvin Walker, USA, 12 Aug 1937, Malmoe2, 08 m     Melvin Walker, USA, 06 Aug 1937, Stockholm2, 07 m     David Albritton, USA, 12 Jul 1936, New York2, 07 m     Cornelius Johnson, USA, 12 Jul 1936, New York2, 06 m     Walter Marty, USA, 28 Apr 1934, Palo Alto2, 04 m     Walter Marty, USA, 13 May 1933, Fresno2, 03 m     Harold Osborn, USA, 27 May 1924, Urbana2, 01 m     Edward Beeson, USA, 02 May 1914, Berkeley2, 00 m     George Horine, USA, 28 May 1912, Palo Alto1, 98 m     George Horine, USA, 29 Mar 1912, Palo Alto

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