Stan Huntsman, one of the greatest coaches in Texas track and field history, was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame on Dec. 3 as a part of the Jesse Owens Awards and Xerox Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Tiger Woods Center on the Nike World Campus in Beaverton, Ore. The ceremony was held in conjunction with USA Track and Field's annual meetings in Portland, Ore.
"It's an amazing feeling," Huntsman said. "You just feel really good all over. To consider the people I was inducted with and those that have been inducted in previously, it's a real honor to be included with those folks."
The National Track and Field Hall of Fame's class of 2004 included 10 of the sport's legends. Four modern athletes (retired less than 25 years), four veteran athletes (retired 25 years or more), one coach (Huntsman) and one contributor made up the class. Mike Conley, Michael Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Joan Samuelson represented the modern athlete selections. Jack Davis, Otis Davis, Gerry Lindgren and John Pennel were the veteran athlete selections. Huntsman represented the coaching profession in the class of 2004 and Dr. Evie Dennis was enshrined as the contributor in the class.
Huntsman served as the head coach at Ohio for 14 years and Tennessee for 15 seasons before spending his final 10 years in Austin, where he still resides.
"One of the highlights of my life came in my first year at Texas when we defeated Arkansas at the conference championship," explained Huntsman. "We've developed some great relationships here in Austin and the people here are super. We enjoyed the university atmosphere, which is why we decided to stay around here."
The "highlight" Huntsman mentioned came in 1986 when the Longhorns displaced Arkansas, who had won the four previous conference tournaments, as the SWC champions. UT duplicated the feat in 1987 with another conference championship. Huntsman added to his total by winning four conference championships in a row before leaving Texas after the 1995 season. He also had success at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Seven of his 10 teams placed in the top 15 and five of them in the top five, including a pair of second place showings in 1987 and '88.
Indoors, Huntsman led the Longhorns to three SWC championships and earned SWC Coach of the Year in 1993 and '94. At the NCAA Indoor Championships, the Horns finished in the top 15 five times while their fifth place finish in 1986 is still the best showing at the indoor championships by a Texas team.
Huntsman also improved Texas' cross country program. He led the Horns to league titles in 1991, '93 and '94 and guided them to second-place finishes six times. He was named the SWC Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1992 and '93.
In his time with the Longhorns, Huntsman produced 11 individual NCAA champions, 64 individual conference champions, 72 outdoor All-Americans, 31 indoor All-Americans and nine cross country All-Americans. In his 39 years as a collegiate head coach, Huntsman coached 41 individual NCAA champions and four NCAA champion relay squads.
In addition, Huntsman enjoyed a fruitful international coaching career. He served as the USA head coach for the 1988 Olympics, 1983 World Championships, 1977 World Cup and 2003 World Indoor Championships. He also served as an assistant coach at the 1976 and `80 Olympic Games.
The other members of the class of 2004 are just as impressive as Huntsman. Conley may be the finest combination long and triple jumper in the world, as he was ranked in the top 10 in the world 10 years as a long jumper and 14 years in the triple jump. Conley won the triple jump Olympic gold in 1992 and silver in 1984. Johnson still holds the world record at 200 and 400 meters. Johnson became the first man in history to win both the 200 and 400 in the same Olympics when he put on a show in Atlanta in 1996. Johnson's nine world outdoor championship golds rank tops among any track and field athlete in history. Joyner-Kersee is considered by many to be the greatest female all-around athlete in history. The four-time Olympian and three-time gold-medal winner still owns the women's heptathlon record. Samuelson won the first Olympic women's marathon in 1984. She is also a former world and American record holder in the marathon.
In the veteran athete category, Jack Davis stands as a former world and American record holder in the high hurdles. Davis struck silver in the 110 hurdles in the 1952 and `56 Olympics. Otis Davis, also a fomer world and American record holder, goes down as one of the finest 400 men in U.S. history. Davis won double gold in the 1960 Olympics in the 400 and 4x400 relay. Lindgren, a distance specialist, became the first American to win a distance event at a U.S.-Soviet Union dual meet. Lindgren won 11 of 12 NCAA events he contested during his collegiate days at Washington State. Pennel set the world outdoor pole vault record six times and set the world indoor record twice. Pennel became to the first man to clear 17 feet in the pole vault in 1963.
Dennis has given four decades of service to the sport of track and field as an administrator. She is a former vice-president of the Amateur Athletic Union and interim president of the The Athletics Congress (now USA Track and Field). The team leader for the U.S. delegation at the 1988 Olympic Games, Dennis remains active in USATF and currently serves as the organization's delegate to the International Association of Athletics Federations.