Skip to main content

USC Track & Field Legend Mel Patton Named To Inaugural College Athlete Hall of Fame

Apr 14, 2022

LOS ANGELES –  Former USC world record-setting sprinter Mel Patton, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time NCAA champion, is one of 30 athletes to be named to the inaugural class for the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Collegiate Athlete Hall of Fame, it was announced today (April 14).  In addition, USC graduate student and Olympic sprinter Ralph Metcalfe is also in the initial class which will be inducted in a ceremony at the Hult Center for Performing Arts in Eugene, Ore. on June 6.

The third of USC's "World's Fastest Humans" (following Charles Paddock and Frank Wykoff), Patton set world records in the 100- and 220-yard dashes. He ran a world record 9.3 in the 100 in 1948 after tying the mark of 9.4 in 1947 and he went 20.2 in the 220 on a straightaway in 1949 to break Jesse Owens' world standard. The 9.3 mark in the 100 still ranks second on USC's all-time list and the 20.2 is a still-standing school 220 record. He also once ran a wind-aided 9.1 in the 100-yard dash.

Nicknamed "Pell Mel," he was a three-time NCAA 100 champ (1947-48-49, with the race contested in yards in 1947 and 1949 and meters in 1948). He also was the NCAA champ in the 200 meters in 1948 and 220 yards in 1949. His 50 total points scored at NCAA meets are the second most in school history.

While a student at USC, he won two gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics, in the 200 meters and on the 400-meter relay. He also placed fifth in the Olympic 100 meters. He was ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100 meters in 1947 and 1949 and No. 1 in the 200 meters in 1947-48-49.

He was a four-year USC letterman (1946-47-48-49) and the team captain of the 1949 NCAA championship Trojan squad. He was also the anchor on a USC 880-yard relay team that set a world record in 1949 (1:24.0).

He was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1985 and into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.

After graduating from USC, he was a teacher and track coach at Long Beach City College and then Wichita State (known then as University of Wichita) before becoming an executive in the aerospace and electronics industries.  Patton passed away in 2014 at the age of 89.

Metcalfe, who went to graduate school at USC following earning an undergraduate degree at Marquette, was the first athlete to win two or more 100m-200m doubles at the NCAA Championships (1932-34).  Patton became the second when he accomplished it in 1948-49. After his outstanding running career, Metcalfe rose to first Lieutenant during World War II for the U.S. Army and served four terms in the U.S. Congress for Chicago up until his death in 1978.
# # # #