Meyers A Colorado Track Legend By Leaps And Bounds
Don Meyers has always been a Colorado guy. As a native of Colorado, he always had dreams of competing for the Buffaloes. At Palmer High School in Colorado Springs, Meyers' dream was realized with his performance in the long jump and pole vault. He was a three-time state champion during his high school years, winning two in the long jump and one in the pole vault.
Meyers' success continued as a record-setting track & field star for the Buffs in the early 1960's. Under the tutelage of the legendary Frank Potts, Meyers was able to establish himself as one of the premier competitors in the long jump and pole vault, earning hardware every season as a varsity athlete. He was a three-year varsity letterman from 1960-62. Meyers made an immediate impact as a sophomore as he was the Big 8 indoor and outdoor long jump conference champion in 1960.
Meyers was able to build upon his sophomore year as he repeated as the Big 8 indoor and outdoor long jump conference champion. However, he did not end his season there. Meyers went on to become the 1961 NCAA outdoor long jump national champion with a jump of 25-feet. Meyers again earned All-American honors as a senior in 1962 after winning another NCAA outdoor national championship, but this time it was in the pole vault, clearing a height of 15-3.
He graduated with his Bachelor's degree in Physical Education in the spring of 1962. Though his days as a Buff were over, Meyers continued to compete in meets. He went to Chicago in December of 1962 for a meet where he made history with an outdoor vault of 16-1¼. With that performance, Meyers became just the fifth person in history to clear a height of 16 feet and had the unofficial world indoor record for the pole vault. It was only unofficial because, at the time, indoor marks and records were not tracked.
"It was an exciting time for pole vaulting in general," reminisced Meyers. "Fiberglass poles were just introduced to the sport. I went to Chicago for a big meet and was not the favorite. I happened to hit the timing perfectly and surprised everyone there, including myself."
For the Buffaloes' 1963 track season, Meyers was brought on as an assistant track coach by Potts. After spending three of the next four years as the head coach at Colorado State, Meyers returned to Boulder to become the new coach of the Buffs track and cross country teams. He was hand-picked by Potts to succeed him after 41 seasons at the helm.
"It was an honor for me to compete for a great track coach by the name of Frank Potts," Meyers said. "He selected me to be his successor, which is one of my greatest honors."
Meyers did his mentor proud by stepping in and continuing the success of the cross country and track programs right away. In his first season as head coach in 1968, he coached the cross country teams to their first of four NCAA Championship appearances during his tenure. The others were in 1970, 1971 and 1973, but the highest finish was fifth place in 1968.
His success with indoor track was just as significant. Meyers was able to coach four teams to post a top 15 finish at the NCAA meet. He also oversaw the best finish by an indoor team in school history, a No. 2 finish in 1974 to UTEP by one point.
Of course, Meyers' success was not just limited to teams, but individuals. He had 24 athletes that won individual Big 8 championships as well as two that were NCAA champions. In 1971, Marcus Walker won the 60-yard hurdles and in 1974, Kinglsey Adams was the champion in one of the events that Meyers won: the long jump. Having been an All-American and NCAA champion himself, Meyers was in a unique position to successfully coach his athletes to a high level.
"I was a Colorado guy and I had success in the program, which made it really easy when recruiting. Given my history as a pole vaulter, we always had good pole vaulters," Meyers admitted. "Along with that, we also had a lot of good track guys that were also members of the football team, so it was really a joint effort among sports."
A champion always knows what it takes to be a champion, and Meyers was able to impress a championship mentality upon athletes that he was coaching. Meyers' coaching helped to set up the track and cross country programs for their success today. To be a CU Athletic Hall of Fame inductee is a well-deserved recognition, and one that reflects his commitment to excellence as an athlete and a coach.