XC Legacy Special Edition: 1977 Harrier National Rankings

1972<<<    1976<<<    >>>1978



(Photo Courtesy Marc Bloom; Marc Bloom early 1970's attending Van Cortlandt Park)

Preface on Greatness: the Standard of Excellence The 9:16 5th Man Looks Back by Dane Rutstein
Is Deerfield Team Best Ever by Stan Heironymus The Seventh Man PART I by Dan Schwartz 
Back-to-Back National Champions The Seventh Man PART II by John Sales
The Road to Greatness: "Once-in-a-Generation" The Deerfield Way by Len Kisselus
Deerfield Legacy Memories by Tom Stevens Deerfield 101 Index


If you have ever been a part of a state championship team you know the feeling of accomplishment accompanied with victory. Each year there come very special programs across the country that step beyond simply winning and into a realm of total domination. It is in these moments of triumph that the questions of team's "greatness" are raised. Extraordinary accomplishments that warrant recognition and validation to set in stone once and for all, their XC Legacy. 


(Recap) In 2004 Nike changed the face of prep cross country with the implementation of Nike Team Nationals. After decades the hopes and dreams of avid cross fans were finally realized. Hosted by Nike, NTN allowed the top XC programs in the nation to compete in one true national championship race at Portland Meadows. Many state associations do not allow prep teams to travel so teams register as clubs in order to compete in this post season event.


The pinnacle event for the prep cross country team is earning a berth to Nike Cross Nationals. The goal of every prep team is to hoist the NXN National Championship Trophy, proclaiming the true national champions. The honor and prestige of traversing the Portland Meadows course as team victor welcomes the winning team into an elite fraternity of champions that stretches back three decades.


Nike Cross Nationals and all that the event represents to the sport of cross country undeniably traces its roots, inception, and excitement to one moment and one man over three decades ago. In 1973 New York Times free-lance reporter Marc Bloom looked across the nation and saw a lack in comprehensive coverage for prep cross country and came up with a revolutionary idea. An idea that would pump new life and energy into high school cross country. The single most profound event prior to the emergence of Nike Cross Nationals three decades later, The Harrier Magazine!


In 1974 Marc Bloom developed and implemented a network for prep cross country on a national scale by releasing detailed summaries of every state. The culminating event for The Harrier magazine was the release of the Harrier Top-50 High School All-Americans.


The winds of change came in 1976 when Harrier released the first national team rankings in US history. A new buzz and excitement spread throughout the nation as top programs sought fervently to be crowned National Champions by The Harrier magazine. Team rankings were again released in 1977, following the 1977 season The Harrier was discontinued until being resurrected by Bloom in 1989. XC Legacy has sought to bridge the gap from that final 1977 season until the 1989 season.


The significance of those four seasons from 74’-77’ in the scope of prep cross country cannot be understated. Without the efforts of Marc Bloom to network and harness the energy that is prep cross country there would have not been a platform for Nike Cross Nationals.


The Harrier 1989 rankings came at the perfect moment and for a decade teams from the four corners of the nation sought the coveted Harrier National Championship. It was this energy, and this excitement that inspired the creation of the Nike Cross Nationals…the nation’s true prep team championship.


Perhaps now a spotlight can rest on those teams who deserve recognition for superior national performances.


 1977 Harrier Top-25 National Rankings  

*Released in Harrier Magazine 1977 by Marc Bloom

Nation's top 25 H.S. Teams  
1. Deerfield HS, Deerfield, Ill. Len Kisellus, Coach. Did it all again in 77' in what was one of the all-time great prep cross country seasons. Best team ever? Maybe, This, despite pressure of No.1 last year and some key injuries. Capped it with State title, scoring 71 to 134 for runnerup York.


2. South Eugene HS, Eugene, Ore. John Gillespie, Coach. Gillespie stepped into Harry Johnson's trophy-filled shoes and, presto, another undefeated South Eugene team that won the State 3A by 111 points.  
3.Tuba City HS, Tuba City, Ariz. Bud Davis, Coach. The Tuba Indians traveled thousands of miles and beat the best from Ariz, Nev, NM, and Cal. State Champs again, too.  
4. Helix HS, Le Mesa, Cal. Mike Muirhead, Coach. Unbeaten with great depth and sub-15 times for 3 miles, took San Diego sectional and the Mt. Sac sweepstakes.  
5. Hermitage HS, Richmond, Va. Bruce Brown, Coach. In a hotbed of activity, this team took all but 1 meet, including Gtwn Prep by 44, Will & Mary by 50 and State 3A by 32.  
6. York HS, Elmhurst, Ill. Joe Newton, Coach. Another consistent York year that got lost amid the Deerfield beauties, State runnerup in under 15 avge over 3.0.  
7. Laguna-Acoma HS, New Laguna, N.M. Coach ??? Beat highly-regarded Santa Fe and grants in invitationals and won State 2A with only 28 points.  
8. Foothill HS, Santa Ana, Cal. Coach ??? Consistent at or near top in rugged Southern Cal area, won So. Section prelims, 2nd to Helix at Mt. Sac.  
9. Astronaut HS, Titusville, Fla. N.J. Gailey, Coach. Dominated state's top teams weekly and would have been top five if not for narrow State upset from rival Senior HS.  
10. Glens Falls HS, Glenns Falls, NY. Bill Parks, Coach. Unbeaten with victories from Long Island to the Adirondacks, best St. Anthony's in States by 29.  
11. Carmel HS, Carmel, Ind. Charles Koeppen, Coach. Strong record with state title and second to Deerfield in Illiana meet, beating Ill's Fremd et. al.  
12. Palos Verde HS, Palos Verdes, Cal. Bob Latham, Coach. Consistent record in So. Section Prelims and Finals victories over some of the state's top teams.  
13. Fremd HS, Palatine, Ill. Ron Menley, Coach Great early-season running, rated 2nd in state, till 3rd (24 behind second-place York) in championships.  
14. Bay Village HS, Bay Village, Ohio. Dick Scott, Coach. 5th last year, Bay ran unbeaten and best Steele by 60 in the sectional, then slipped to 2nd in the states with a weak fifth man after putting four runners in the top 20.  
15. Grande Blanc HS, Grand Blanc, Mich. Bob Stallcup, Coach. Ranked No.1 in Mich. all season, this team won the early-season Tri-State meet and took the States with only 51 points.  
16. Northwest HS, Shawnee Mission, Kan. Van Rose, Coach. Ran unbeaten to State 5A title with 19-sec. spread for 2M.  
17. Reynolds HS, Winston-Salem, N.C. Norman Trzskoma, Coach. A second straight undefeated campaign with the state title despite an injured No.1 runner.  
18.Burnsville HS, Burnsville, Minn. Dave Griffen, Coach. Unbeaten with many major titles; see P.11 for more on them.  
19. Memorial HS, West New York, N.J. Bob Van Zanten, Coach. Won several major titles including coveted Eastern; by 56 points; lost States by a nose (to Bergen Cath).  
20. Steele HS, Amherst, Ohio. Dick Cooley, Coach. Consistently at or near top of big meets, then stunning upset of Bay Village in State champs.  
21. St. Anthony's HS, Smithtown, N.Y. Don Buckley, Coach. Several big wins, including Cath. league title; 2nd to Glens Falls in State champs.  
22. Bareford HS, Bareford James Heffner, Coach. Won record 4th state title for this small school.  
23. Bergen Catholic HS, Gradell, N.J. Dave Faherty, Coach. Beat Mass. champ by 40 in Inv. recovered from dismal last race to beat West NY and win State title.  
24. Largo HS, Largo, Fla. Brent Haley, Coach. 8th last year, it was another firm Largo season with many victories and the State 4A Championship.  
25. Punxsutawney HS, Punxsutawney, Pa. John Smith, Coach. Many major titles, claimed the 4A state championship.  


Preface on Greatness: The Standard of Excellence


On rare occasions throughout the history of prep cross country a moment in time occurs that culminates in greatness. The convergence of individual talent and ability, coaching and timing meet for one moment of perfection that lasts a lifetime, a perfect storm.


The question has risen time and again, who is the greatest, who was the best…who set the standard of excellence for boys prep cross country teams? For the modern prep cross country team who dreams of reaching the pinnacle of prep cross country, Nike Cross Nationals Champions, it is vital to know the history, the legacy, and how you stack up.


In the modern era Joe Newton’s 1999 York team, which decimated the Illinois State Championships with 24 points, must be in consideration for best all-time. Newton’s top five runners all placed in the top ten at the championships with a 14:31 3-mile average. Touted by experts following the state championships as possibly the best ever, a team that coach Joe Newton proclaimed his best ever and which was reported by former Milesplit National Editor Scott Bush in his piece “On the Track with the Dukes of York”, “They want to be the best; they want to be the new team to be compared to.…which is considered the best ever in Illinois history and was the number one team in the nation according to The Harrier that year.”  But were they the best in Illinois state or US history? Scott Bush 99’ York Story


In 1993 a team out of the Greater Spokane League threw their names in the hat for greatest ever. The Pat Tyson-coached Mead Panthers dominated historically significant championship courses enroute to a Harrier National Championship. A team which still holds the Woodward Park course record for team time when they traversed the course in 76:22, or roughly 15:28 average over 5000 meters. Possibly the most significant course in US history, Woodward Park stands as the standard of excellence for 5000 meters on the west coast. In a Special to the Daily News, Sean Martin quoted Dyestatcal Editor Rich Gonzales as stating, ``It is the best measuring stick…It's a much more consistent course (over the years), and all the top teams run there in top shape.” Mead would then go on to decimate the Washington State Championships with 31 team points while claiming the top three individual places and four in the top eight. An off day by #5 Sky Detray who finished 19th in team scoring kept the Panther’s from possibly scoring under 20 points. Were the Panther’s the best ever? Pat Tyson Story


In 1980 and 1981 Indiana produced two teams that will be regarded as possibly the best ever. Out of Bloomington North comes the Charlie Warthan coached national champions of 1980. A team who stormed through Indiana in epic fashion culminating in a state championship in which they would average 15:13 for 5000 meters with a 34 second 1-5 spread. Then out of Carmel comes the 1981 Chuck Koeppen-coached Greyhounds who produced a seven second 1-5 spread while dominating the Indiana State Championships with a 15:16 5k (14:44.48 3-mile) average. Two programs covering consecutive seasons the likes of which Indiana has never witnessed who were nearly identical in the way in which they won, packed, have placed a spotlight on them as possibly the best, but were they? (80’ Bloomington North Story) (81’ Carmel Story)


Legendary national editor Doug Speck called the 1972 Lompoc, California team the “Magnificent 7”. A team about whom Speck was quoted to have stated, “The quality of efforts, domination over good competition, and a ruthless, competitive style that took no prisoners along the way during a very competitive era of prep distance running in California certainly marks them as among the best in the state and the nation’s history.” Led by Terry Williams Lompoc decimated the CIF Southern Section Championships while also setting the national postal two-mile record, a team which had personal bests for 5000 meters of 13:53.8 Terry Williams, Jim Schankel 14:27.8, Jim Warrick 14:54.8, Roger Fabing 14:58.8, and Steve Galbraith 15:09.8…were they the best ever? Doug Speck’s Lompoc Story


Exceptional programs, coaches, and athletes with stellar legacies that have stood through history as benchmarks carved into granite. It is undeniable that in the list of top ten programs in US history, of the greatest, the best of all-time… that argument must be made and must irrevocably include the 72’ Lompoc CA, 74’ South Eugene OR, 80’ Bloomington North IN, 81’ Carmel IN,  93’ Mead and 99’ York programs. But who was the best? 


Is Deerfield Team the Best Ever?


By Stan Heironymus, Peoria Journal Star released 11/12/1977


Just how good is the Deerfield High School cross country team? The best in Illinois high school history? Year-to-year improvement often means the latest champion is the best ever. The best in the country? Deerfield was ranked No.1 at the end of last season by the Harrier and again before this season began. Unbeatable in today’s Class AA finals? The last question doesn’t have to be answered by comparisons or arguments, but at three miles today through Detweiller Park. And there are several coaches who know exactly how their teams might beat Deerfield.


“They are absolutely awesome,” DeKalb Coach John Byrkett said after Deerfield finished 2-3-4-5-7 and scored 22 points in the Crystal Lake Invitational the first weekend of the season. “They are like a college team,” Proviso West coach Larry Wieczorek said after Deerfield scored 21 points to win the Proviso West Invitational the next week.


So it went through the season. Deerfield scored just 30 points to win the Sectional at crystal Lake. (Image right: Harrier 77', Best in the U.S., From left, Deerfield's Keith Hampton, Bruce Gilbert, and Todd and Mark McCallister. All except Gilbert are back this fall.)


“I have to accept it, the team has to accept it,” Deerfield coach Len Kisellus said early in the year. “We’re the best team going in. Just so something doesn’t happen and we blow the whole thing.”


South Eugene, Ore., was ranked second nationally last year. “It’s really hard to see how far behind they were,” noted Marc Bloom, editor and publisher of The Harrier, a national cross country magazine. “It was pretty close, if I recall my analysis accurately.”


“Historically speaking, it is virtually impossible to compare distance runners from different areas because there are so many changing variables,” Bloom noted. “If Deerfield continued to roll through an unbeaten season and again is rated No.1, I would guess that there would be very few teams in the history of organized cross country that could be held with higher esteem.”


1.Deerfield, Illinois: 400-0 Undefeated Back-to-Back National Champions


Timing is everything. In 1973 a group of freshman appeared on the national cross scene in Deerfield, Illinois. Coached by Bob Fjelstul, this freshman team went undefeated on the season, a 42-0 record culminating with a first place performance at the United States Track & Field Federation National Championships. Freshman Cross Country Team National Champions! Serving as a precursor of things to come that team consisted of Todd and Mark McCallister, Keith Hampton, Greg Less, and Dane Rutstein. It would be four years later that Legendary editor Marc Bloom would chronicle the culminating moment in US prep cross country history. (photo: 1973 Freshman National Champions)




 “The Perfect Storm”


In 1977 a program arrived in Illinois that can be regarded as remarkable and quite possibly “The Benchmark” for all cross country programs. Featuring a top six who averaged 9:21 for two-miles in 1976 Deerfield, Illinois was on the brink of greatness entering the 1977 season.


The 1977 Deerfield team would feature a tremendously talented squad that were five years in the making as well as new addition to the coaching staff Rich Elliott. Elliott will be remembered as a 8:56 two-miler who claimed the 1967 & 1968 state championship over the distance. Coached by Hugh Enicks, Elliott is also known for his competing against world record holder Ron Clarke in the Coliseum Invitational over 5000 meters. Elliott stepped in at the right time with the right group of runners, he stated “People in Deerfield could see a good team taking shape long before 1977. That group of runners, that collection of talent, was a perfect storm that had been gathering for quite awhile” ~Rich Elliott, Head Cross Country Coach, Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois; 67’ & 68’ Illinois State Two-mile Champion


First you had the twins, Mark and Todd McCallister, who'd been running since they were very young. Their father, Dick McCallister, had been a coach at Proviso West High School and had put together legendary teams in the mid-1960's, teams that dominated in cross country and set national relay records in track. Dick had been my coach at Proviso initially. So Mark and Todd had grown up around runners. They'd developed strength from years of running. And as a wonderful bonus, they had great talent. (Image right: Rich Elliott)


Then you had Keith Hampton and Tom Stevens. Both had shocking talent; it was like lightning striking two more times. Keith ended up running 14:33 (despite an injury) and Tom (the following year) would run 14:20 and 4:10. Signs of success then attracted more talent. It seemed every good runner in town wanted to be on this team-Dane Rutstein (15:00), Greg Less (15:05), George Whitten (14:42, in '78), Craig Bauer (14:23 in '79), to name only a few. These were dedicated runners, hard workers, who emerged in the training and got in tremendous shape. 


Then you add in 2 exceptional coaches in Len Kisellus, the cross country coach, and Bob Fjelstul, the track coach. Bob was a terrific recruiter, very knowledgeable, and brought a lot of passion to the whole program. Len was a veteran coach who knew how to handle runners” ~Rich Elliott, Head Cross Country Coach, Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois; 67’ & 68’ Illinois State Two-mile Champion


With Deerfield returning four varsity scorers from the 1976 Harrier National Championship team head coach Len Kisellus knew the 77’ team could be on a collision course with greatness. “This team should be far superior to last years great team. But we will have to guard against being to cocky or overconfident. We will also have to guard against individualism, for there will be fierce competition for positions” Len Kisellus, 1976-1977 Harrier National Championship Coach. (Image right: Coach Bob Fjelstul)


Coach K was and is a great man, he brought me into it and told me I could be one of the best.  He gave me the chance to go at it with the big guys and supported me all the way.  Fez was my track coach and also instilled in me that I could go as far as I wanted to in the sport.  He was a fun loving guy and he and his wife Lynn were two of my favorite ”adults” as a goofy high school runner. Finally EL…being one of the best U.S. distance runners of all time, he knew what it took to reach the top and showed me.  I’ll never forget his stories of training at KU and how hard they worked.” ~Tom Stevens, Deerfield teammate 76’ & 77’ Back-to-Back National Champions (Image left: Coack "K", Len Kisellus @ 76' state meet)


As I look back on it, Coach “K” was the perfect manager for this team, the perfect counterbalance for a group that could be pretty hyper. Len was in his final year of coaching. He'd coached some really good runners in his career. He knew his stuff, and he was savvy. He was good with the kids. He was unflappable. He didn't feed into the frenzy” ~Rich Elliott, Head Cross Country Coach, Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois; 67’ & 68’ Illinois State Two-mile Champion





Deerfield Varsity Personal Bests
Tom Stevens, Class of 79' 4:08.7 1600m / 8:56.3 3200m / 14:17 3-mile
Keith Hampton, Class of 78' 4:11.1 1600m / 9:05.1 3200m / 14:33 3-mile
Todd McCallister, Class of 78' 4:05.5 1600m / 9:07.9 3200m / 14:14 3-mile
Mark McCallister, Class of 78' 4:09.3 1600m / 9:10.4 3200m / 14:16 3-mile

Dane Rutstein, Class of 78'

4:17.8 1600m / 9:16.4 3200m / 14:19 3-mile



The Road to Greatness: “once-in-a-generation”


Marc Bloom quoted in a pre-season Harrier edition, “a once-in-a-generation cross country squad, a team so fine it will inspire awe whenever it competesKisellus says he has no magic formula. What he does have may be one of the finest high school teams ever.” ~Marc Bloom, Harrier Magazine Founder


I feel we were one of the best if not the best team in high school cross country history” ~Tom Stevens, Deerfield teammate 76’ & 77’ Back-to-Back National Champions


The training of Deerfield has been something of cross country lore. The Deerfield pack trained as aggressively as any program in US history. Likened to collegiate workouts, Deerfield's level of accountability at practice was legendary. Marc Bloom quotes Coach Kisellus in the fall Harrier preview, “Our training program is planned so the athlete experiences a gradual adaptation in stress, and in turn it is our hope that our program develops a greater immunity to fatigue.”


On a team like that, everyone's goals and expectations get ratcheted up. In the workouts, people got dragged along, and they got much more out of themselves. Many of the distance runs were really high-quality tempo runs. The second string ended up doing some amazing things that year, like running the two-mile relay around 7:50.” ~Rich Elliott, Head Cross Country Coach, Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois; 67’ & 68’ Illinois State Two-mile Champion


Our top five runners averaged 4:15 for the mile and 9:15 in the two-mile, they were quite a bunch” ~Len Kisellus, 1981 article “Ex-Warrior Champs Keep Winning” by Joe Orris


The Seventh Man


NEW UPDATE: The Seventh Man PART I by Dan Schwartz   &   The Seventh Man PART II by John Sales


Deerfield was notoriously deep and often the junior varsity team could have defeated most varsity invitationals handily. Deerfield’s team B was a top five state team of its own with a hyper-competitive atmosphere for the coveted 7th spot. For over four seasons the same group of five dominated the varsity. Leaving a vast amount of top runners chomping at the bit for the 7th spot on varsity.


Deerfield state meet scorer Greg Less commented, “We won in 76’ and we knew we could be a dominant team in 77’. Todd, Mark, Keith, Stevens, Less, Dane…the competition for the 7th man spot was probably the story of that team. Our bottom seven could have won alot of meets. I believe they could have won the conference meet. The competition with Dan Schwartz, John Sales…we ran a separate 4 for the 4x800 relay that were not even on varsity in cross in sub 7:50…that’s how deep we were.”


9/10/77 Crystal Lake Invite: Opening the season at the Crystal Lake Invitational Deerfield dominated the “hilliest and most dreaded course in Northern Illinois” as quoted by Warrior Dane Rutstein. Winning with 21 team points and a 10 second 1-5 spread it would be clear Deerfield was poised to repeat as Harrier National Champions. Team Score: Deerfield 21, Fremd 55. Individual Placers: 2. Mark McCallister 15:36; 3. Todd McCallister 15:36; 4. Keith Hampton 15:36; 5. Tom Stevens 15:39; 7. Dane Rutstein 15:46. Deerfield defeated Fremd, the eventual 3rd place team at the 77’ State Championships. 

9/17/77 Proviso West Invite: Featuring 23 teams the Proviso West Invitational is a true test of team strength. A meet which honored Todd and Mark McCallister’s father and former Provico West coach Dick McCallister with the McCallister Cup. Todd and Mark tied for first place in 15:10 to claim top honors with both receiving the prestigious award honoring their father. Tom Stevens came in 5th with 15:25, Keith Hampton 6th in 15:26 and Dane Rutstein 8th in 15:38. Still very healthy, beat Thornridge (5th later that year in State) by a dual meet-like score of 22-130! (Image: McCallister brothers run even with Thornridge's John Sullivan)

9/20/77 New Trier West & Niles North: A triangular meet at home Deerfield scored 15 points to defeat Niles North and 20 points to defeat New Trier West. Running without the McCallister twins and Tom Stevens, Dane Rutstein and Keith Hampton tied for first place. Dan Schwartz was 4th, George Witten 6th and John Sales finished in 7th place. 

9/24/77 Gordon Tech (Chicago) @Deerfield: A dual meet against a tough Gordon Tech the team competed without Greg Less or Todd McCallister and still won 24-33. Keith Hampton won in 14:51 with Dane Rutstein second in 14:59, Mark McCallister 4th and Tom Stevens 5th.  Dane Rutstein recalls, “This meet was on our home course, in my recollection, the only scare we had all season:  Todd Mcallister was not running, Greg Less is nowhere to be found in the results, and I had to pull my fair share as 5th man moving all the way up to 2nd.  Gordon Tech had three excellent runners, each capable of breaking up our top 5, and without all of our studs on the line the outcome was not a certainty.  We prevailed 24-33.  According to my calculations Gordon Tech must have placed 3-6-7-8-9 to our 1-2-4-5-12 to get 24-33.  That was as close as anyone came to us all year.  Think about it: we had just scored less points in a 23 team invitational the weekend before at Proviso west!!!  Kudos to Gordon Tech for giving us heart palpitations!  I remember being scared as hell that our unbeaten streak might end that day---ignominiously, carelessly, unexpectedly.  We dodged a bullet, and our guys showed true depth against a team Gordon Tech squad that would go on to capture 7th Downstate in November.  I never had an ounce of anxiety over our team winning any other meet that season other than that day.”



10/1/77  Illiana Classic (Dolton, IL): Long before the Washington/Oregon Borderclash was the Ill-Iana Classic, an Indiana verses Illinois borderwar. The 77’ event featured the Chuck Koeppen coached Carmel Greyhounds who were the top team out of Indiana.  Deerfield dominated over Carmel with all five varsity scorers in the top 15 places. 1 Todd McCallister 14:47; 2 Keith Hampton 14:49; 8 Mark McCallister 14:57; 14 Tom Stevens 15:06; 15 Dane Rutstein 15:08. Carmel was a distant second in the quasi-State meet atmosphere.  Dane Rutstein recalls, “ I don't remember any competition whatsoever: all I remember is a sleepy, forever bus ride to somewhere far south of Chicago, listening to Keith Hampton drone on with these endless jokes that took everyone's mind off of the race.  When we were warming up I overheard the telltale muttering "Oh no, Deerfield's here!"  The biggest race of the year thusfar had been won before we even peeled off our sweats!” (Image: Todd McCallister heads to victory) Team Scores: Deerfield 40; Carmel 118; Fremd 137; Northrup 140. Complete Meet Results

10/8/77 Crete-Monee Pow-wow:  Seven separate flights pitting designated 7th men together, then 6th men, then 5th, and so on to the 1st man race. Deerfield won four of the seven flights, predictably, showing their depth past the 1st and 2nd man positions: 6th flight winner Greg Less; 5th flight winner Dane Rutstein; 4th flight winner Tom Stevens; 3rd flight winner Keith Hampton.


Tom Stevens recalls, “I loved the Pow Wow because it was like running on a motocross course in crappy weather.  I loved the rutted trails, muddy, sloppy course and going head to head with fellow 4th men from other teams.  I was bigger and stronger than most of the guys so I was able to power my through the wind and slop to win that Flight.”

Dane Rutstein recalls, “According to Timely Times' Power Rankings, 11 of the top 20 teams in the state were present.  Deerfield defended its team title against Glenbard West (eventual 4th in State).  Todd McCallister finished a very disappointing race (as did Mark in his 2nd man flight.)  Eventual State Champion Tom Graves won, but 25 seconds off his course record...the mud had made the race like a motocross course.  A number of "flight records" were set by the Deerfield guys that year. This uniquely scored meet provided an opportunity for each level runner to star in his own right among "peers", and that was the key to our team success those championship years:  D-E-P-T-H!!!!

10/11/77 New Trier East & Highland Park @ home: Triangular in-conference meet where Deerfield scored 18 and 20 points against local teams.

10/15/77  Lake County Meet: Deerfield won handily, going 1-2-3-4-6. Dave Giles of Highland Park cracked the Deerfield top 5; he eventually got 16th at state in 14:44.  I have a great black and white photo my Dad took showing the McCallister twins and me running in a cluster with Giles giving chase from this meet.

10/17/77 Evanston & Waukegan West @ home: Conference triangular, Deerfield scores 15 against each of these division foes.

10/22/77 North Division Meet of Central Suburban League @ Deerfield High School: While cross country times are subjective and questionable there are meets which stand alone as benchmarks over certain distances. In Illinois Detweiller stands as the benchmark for over 40 years of excellence. For Deerfield the 3-mile home course was the benchmark for the 76’ national championship team as they sought to put an exclaimation point on the 1977 season. With the entire team healthy for the first time all season Deerfield racked 15 points and a 16 second 1-5 spread to claim the Divisional Championship. The team averaged 14:19 over the 3-mile course, surely one of the fastest 3-mile averages over any difficulty in US history. Todd McCallister won in a new course record 14:14 with twin brother Mark McCallister second in 14:16, Tom Stevens placed 3rd in 14:17, Dane Rutstein placed 4th in 14:19 and Greg Less placed 5th in 14:30.Deerfield wins Division meet in a SHUTOUT, without its #3 man Keith Hampton (eventual 7th place State meet), and with a :16 second spread from 1st-5th men overall.  Dave Giles of Highland Park (16th in State three weeks hence) does not break into the Deerfield top 5!!! 


Dane Rutstein recalls, “With a healthy Hampton we would have averaged 14:17 per man no doubt, not even counting Greg Less (a 15:00 man in his own right).  This meet comes the weekend before the District- Sectional-State Meet buildup.  The places of the top four cluster were not determined until the final 100 yard sprint "turning off the bridge."



10/29/77 District Championship @ Deerfield High School


No Results available


11/5/77 Sectional Qualifying Meet @ Veteran Acres Park Crystal Lake: Deerfield (30) wins over Palatine (71) and Fremd (73). Mark McCallister was spiked but finished the race.  He had twelve stitches put in and was on crutches for the next week.  Compared to Deerfield performance in the Sectional to the Crystal Lake Invitational in the first few weeks of the season: the spread widened from 15:36-15:46 in September to a full :32 seconds.  Todd and Mark McCallister actually improved, whereas Hampton, Stevens and Rutstein backed off their earlier performances.  The overall team performance was consistent and solid...6 in the top 15 on a tough course.  2 Todd McCallister 15:23; 3 Mark McCallister 15:31; 7 Keith Hampton 15:40; 9 Tom Stevens 15:41; 14 Dane Rutstein 15:52
15 Greg Less 15:55 Rick Johnson Sectional Championship Preview

11/12/77 State Meet @ Detweiller Park (Peoria, IL):  Held at the legendary Detweiller Park 3.0 miles course, flat, gentle upgrade towards finish makes it deceptively tough to kick it home. Detweiller had few major turns, lots of long straights and an opening "cavalry charge" start of almost 600 yards.


I do remember one small moment that really struck me. It came during their pre-race ritual. These runners ran in the mornings and that also included the morning of the State Meet, where they would get up early and run 3 miles easy. Except “easy” for them was anything but. In that morning run, a few hours before the State Meet, we got out there and pretty soon were all running sub-6 minute miles, and I thought, “Holy s---, here goes their race!” But it didn't phase them at all. These runners were just so full of run.” ~Rich Elliott, Head Cross Country Coach, Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois; 67’ & 68’ Illinois State Two-mile Champion


Deerfield entered the race with some odds stacked against them with Mark McCallister, the teams #2 man dropping out as a result of an injury sustained in the Sectional Championships. Yet, the team responded by showing the true depth of their pack as the team placed three runners under 14:40 for 3-miles. Todd McCallister finished in 14:21, Keith Hampton finished in 14:33, Tom Stevens in 14:38, Dane Rutstein 15:00, Greg Less in 15:05, and Craig Bauer in 15:32 for a team total of 71 points. Complete State Meet Results


Deerfield wins without Mark McCallister, ostensibly the #2 or #3 man all year.  Had he run, the score would have been one for the ages.  Todd McCallister ran a very gutsy race: Graves was the stud all year and Spivey would eventually go on to represent the US in the Olympics.  Keith Hampton and Tom Stevens both ran just about to their potential.  Rutstein and Less did not run the races of their lives; had they performed as they had all year, Deerfield might have placed 5 or 6 men in the top 25.


Of course, there was a great deal of excitement and worry during the race, especially when Mark went down with an injury. Afterwards we had a deep sense of pride in how the boys ran. All of our finishers held up their end of the bargain. Especially Greg Less, who passed a couple dozen runners in the last mile. The guys were happy too, of course, though some of them grumbled that they should have run better. These guys always wanted to run faster!” ~Rich Elliott, Head Cross Country Coach, Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois; 67’ & 68’ Illinois State Two-mile Champion



Looking at the names of some top 25 placers that day:  Wilson (Gordon Tech) 8th in 14:36 and Giles (Highland Park) 16th in 14:44.  All five Deerfield runners had defeated these guys in meets earlier this year.  To their credit, they ran very, very well.  The point is that Deerfield's true potential was masked in the State meet results by the fact that Mark McCallister was sidelined and that both Rutstein and Less could easily have done better.  Despite all this, Deerfieldwalked away with the title: as it is they averaged 14:43 per man (15th place equivalent per man) while York averaged a whisker below 15:00.  Had Mark McCallister run on his brother's shoulder and placed 4th overall at roughly  14:25, Deerfield's average per man would come in at 14:34...which translated to 8th place that day.  And that involves only putting in Mark McCallister hypothetically; there was even more gas left in the tank if Rutstein and/or Less had run to their own sub 15:00 capabilities.  This is not to make excuses, just a reasonable exercise in the "what-might-have-been".  Not alot of teams can lose a sub 4:10 miler and walk away with a title over venerable York!  For that matter, look at what happens if hypothetically Todd McCallister had not run either: Deerfield still would have run a close 2nd in State (sophomore Craig Bauer was back in 106th place and he would become a top 5 finisher in the next 2 years)!  Imagine that: trade away your best two guys, mere sub 4:10 milers (!), and you still gun for best in the State over York.  That was Deerfield! Layer upon layer of legitimate talent! Hats off to Coach Len Kisellus on his retirement!  Congratulations to Assistant Coaches Bob Fjelstul and Rich Elliot.



League Opponent



Waukegan East



Gordon Tech



Niles North



Niles East



New Trier East



Highland Park



New Trier West









Crystal Lake Invitational



Proviso West Invitational



Ill-Iana Classic



Crete Monee Invitational



Lake County Championship



Division Championship



District Championship



Sectional Championship



Looking back Tom Stevens recalls the state meet, “Of course my favorite race of 1977 was the state meet.  I felt great going into it and hoped for a high finish, top 25 or so.  I remember feeling strong the entire race and hammering the final straightway to take 13th place…much better than I had hoped for.  I was ecstatic and I think Coach K was also. The pressure had been on all year and we came through crushing all comers even without Mark McCallister who had dropped out after the first mile. It was disappointing for Mark to drop out and I felt bad for him.  It was also secretly disappointing to me because I thought I could beat him outright for 3rd spot. I can say this 33 years after the fact!  Some teams would have caved in under the pressure of being expected to win the entire season and then losing one of our top runners but we thrived on it and rose to the occasion.  Overall it was a great day for our team and I feel proud to have been a part of it.  Over 1976 and 1977 we were undefeated and rolled up victories over 400 teams including all meets and invitationals. Once again we were named National Champion and I feel we were one of the best if not the best team in high school cross country history. I know there are other great teams out there that will argue this point….but not many.”

Deerfield High School Cross Country Legacy Memories (back to top)

By: Tom Stevens, Class of 1979


My sports career at DHS started with a bang...literally…in the fall of 1975 I started on offense, defense and special teams for the Deerfield Warriors Freshman Football A team.  At 5’-9” tall and 129lbs I played offensive guard and defensive end and was one of the fastest and known as one of the hardest hitters on the team.  I had visions of fours years of football at DHS and loved every minute of freshman football.  I believe the Varsity football team won the State Championship that year.


In the winter and spring of my freshman year I went out for indoor and outdoor track…I seemed to be up front in all of the football field practice laps and thought it would be good training for football so I figured why not.  My first mile time was 5:14.  I was training in green Chuck Taylor low tops.  By March I had posted a 4:46 for a District record. On May 15th 1976 at our Conference meet I finished 2nd to my buddy Keith Hampton (4:35) in 4:37 which ended up being the fastest mile by any freshman in the State of Illinois that year.  Needless to say…my hard hitting football career was over.


Fall of 1976 was my sophomore year and found me on the cross country course with the big guns at DHS. I ended up unbeaten by any sophomore for the entire season and managed to crack the varsity top 5 a few times, mostly I was anywhere from 5th to 8th man.  I managed to win the 7th man flight at the always popular Crete-Monee Pow Pow.  We ended up undefeated all season including the State meet.  In the end I ended up as 8th man and watched my teammates crush all comers at the State meet….it was good experience for me to be there and only fueled my competitive instincts for sophomore year of track and beyond. We were named National Champions and felt that it was well deserved.  It was very exciting for me, as a sophomore, to have contributed the Varsity team’s success.


Winter and spring of 1977 brought indoor and outdoor track again.  Looking back at the scrapbook that my dad prepared , he mentioned that I did more early winter training and weightlifting than the previous year…mentioning that one Sunday in January I ran 7.5 mile in -20 degree weather.  My first mile time was 4:42 in a practice time trial. I ran the 880 indoors in February in 2:02 breaking the 9 year old school record for sophomores. Ten days later I ran 9:49 in the 2 mile and the next week ran 4:32 in the mile.  I was beginning to realize that I had potential to be one of the best. On March 12 I just missed Todd McAllister’s sophomore 2 mile school record running 9:45 7 to his 9:45.2. The next week I posted a 2:01.9 for a new sophomore school record.  I ran varsity most of the season and on April 9th ran 4:23.7 in the mile only 1.6 seconds behind Todd.   Probably my best race ever to date earning me the nickname of Whiz…unfortunately. I ran several 9:45 or so two miles and ended up in a “practice” race running 9:25.8.  I ended up running a leg of the 2 mile relay in 1:56 5 at the State track meet…not bad for a sophomore.


In the Fall of 1977, my junior year, I was ready to run with the big boys. I was a solid 4th man on the team and got pretty sick of hearing how great the twins and Hampton were  J  I was ready to go after them.  In the second race of the season I manage to beat Keith for 3rd man and 4th place overall. As the season rolled on we rolled over every team we faced and crushed everyone on the course.  Our practices were so competitive that we ran faster everyday in practice than most guys did in the races.  It was very exciting to be a part of it.  I loved coming to practice and loved the hard work.  With such a great group of guys it was fun everyday even if we were working harder than any other team in the state.  I was in a great spot having the best runners in the state ahead of me and behind me every day of the week.  None of us would ever let up as we knew someone was a half step behind trying to hammer whoever he could catch.  It was almost like being in a race seven days a week….Sunday runs were tough as well. I don’t remember the details of our work outs but I remember working so hard every day and absolutely loving it.  It was much harder than football ever was….sorry football guys. (Image right: Tom Stevens winning 800m)


My other great memories of that fall were hanging out with guys before and after practice and on the weekends.  I mostly hung out with the sophomores, juniors and seniors who were not in the top 5.  Sorry Todd, Mark, Keith and Dane…you guys either had girlfriends or were always studying…this crew was even competitive academically! I hung out with the state school bound guys, not the Ivy Leaguers.   I hung with John Sales, Rick Black, Bill Maraist, Dan Schwartz (and his hot sisters), Greg Less, George Whitten, Bill Resseguie, Erik Johnson, Craig Bauer and Jeff Bard…sorry if left anyone out but I’m old and have been typing too long. We spent our free time working on cars, go carts, motorcycles as well as smelt fishing along Lake Michigan and listening to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones….we may have even consumed a beer or two while we were at it.  This is an absolutely great group of guys and I feel fortunate to have spent most of my high school years with them and enjoy seeing a bunch of them almost every year around the Holidays.


I think my favorite two races were the Crete-Monee Pow Wow and the State Championship meet.  I loved the Pow Wow because it was like running on a motocross course in crappy weather.  I loved the rutted trails, muddy, sloppy course and going head to head with fellow 4th men from other teams.  I was bigger and stronger than most of the guys so I was able to power my through the wind and slop to win that Flight..  Of course my favorite race of 1977 was the state meet.  I felt great going into it and hoped for a high finish, top 25 or so.  I remember feeling strong the entire race and hammering the final straightway to take 13th place…much better than I had hoped for.  I was ecstatic and I think Coach K was also. The pressure had been on all year and we came through crushing all comers even without Mark McCallister who had dropped out after the first mile. It was disappointing for Mark to drop out and I felt bad for him.  It was also secretly disappointing to me because I thought I could beat him outright for 3rd spot. I can say this 33 years after the fact!  Some teams would have caved in under the pressure of being expected to win the entire season and then losing one of our top runners but we thrived on it and rose to the occasion.  Overall it was a great day for our team and I feel proud to have been a part of it.  Over 1976 and 1977 we were undefeated and rolled up victories over 400 teams including all meets and invitationals. Once again we were named National Champion and I feel we were one of the best if not the best team in high school cross country history. I know there are other great teams out there that will argue this point….but not many.


My junior year track seasons went well in the winter and spring of 1978.  I ran a series of 4:21 miles eventually cracking 4:20, 1:55 in the half and finished the season strong with a 4th place finish in the state championship in the 880 in 1:53.3.


With the big guns gone, the fall of 1978 had me winning most of my races.  I finished a solid second in the State Championship meet in 14:20.  This was and I believe still is a school record for DHS eclipsing Todd McCallister’s 14:21 the year before on the same course.  During this race I strained my Achilles’ tendon and actually had to walk for 50 -60 yards before starting up again.  This allowed Don Volkey to open up a lead…I was bearing down on him in the final 200 yards and almost caught him but he held me off to win by 4 seconds.  He ran a great race but I feel I could have beaten him without the injury and walking.


My senior year in track was a blast for me.  I had a great season with great teammates.  I ran an 8:58 equivalent 2-mile and won the State meet in 4:10.3 in windy, wet and cold conditions.   I signed up with the University of Illinois as a great cap to a wonderful four years at Deerfield High School.


I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about my coaches at Deerfield: Len Kisellus (the original Coach K!), Bob Fjelstul (Fez) and Rich Elliott( EL).  Coach K was and is a great man, he brought me into it and told me I could be one of the best.  He gave me the chance to go at it with the big guys and supported me all the way.  Fez was my track coach and also instilled in me that I could go as far as I wanted to in the sport.  He was a fun loving guy and he and his wife Lynn were two of my favorite ”adults” as a goofy high school runner. Finally EL…being one of the best U.S. distance runners of all time, he knew what it took to reach the top and showed me.  I’ll never forget his stories of training at KU and how hard they worked…”to the point of crapping blood” if I remember him correctly. ( I aspired to this greatness at U of I but only managed to puke near Coach Wieneke’s shoes)  EL gave me a hard time when I needed it and supported me all the way.


I thank all of you and take your lessons of hard work and discipline along with me everyday…I hope my two kids end up with coaches as fine as you all were.


As footnote to my high school career, I was invited to run the first annual National High School Athletic Coaches Association National Cross Country Championship meet in Orlando Florida in June of 1979.  According to my dad’s priceless scrapbook it was 93 degrees and humid. I led early and fell back and then fought back to the lead blasting everybody to win it down the stretch. According to my dad, several runners dropped out due to the heat, some were hospitalized and Tom “just got sick”.


I was fortunate enough to continue my running career at the University of Illinois under the great Gary Wieneke.  I joined a group of incredibly talented runners and more importantly, a group of great guys.  I worked harder than I ever had and managed to earn a BS degree in Civil Engineering at one of the top engineering schools in the country along the way.  I can’t thank Coach Wieneke enough for giving me such a great opportunity. As with my Deerfield coaches, I carry his lessons of hard work, persistence and discipline with me every day.


I ended up having a great career at U of I, my best times were: 

50.5   400 m

1:50.5   800 m

2:53   ¾ mi relay split at Drake Relays

2:08 indoor 1000 yds (best time in the country at that time)

4:00.6indoor mile

8:25.83000m steeplechase

3 time Big Ten Individual Champion: indoor 1000yd and 2 time steeplechase

3 time NCAA Division1 All-American: indoor mile and 2 time steeplechase

2 time Olympic Trials Qualifier:   7th in 1984 Trials Final Steeplechase (also won semifinal heat in 8:28)

1988 (after 3 years off) did not make finals

Ranked 8th in US in Steeplechase 1983 and 1984

Ranked 33rd in the world Steeplechase 1984


I am currently a Principal with Graef-USA Inc. an engineering consulting firm and working in Chicago as project manager on roadway, sewer and traffic signal projects. I live in the north suburbs of Chicago and have been married to my wife Karen for 16 years and have two great kids. Jack is 10 and Jamie is 12. Karen was a superstar athlete at Downers Grove South High School and played Division 1 softball at Northwestern…one of the leaders on the team that won the first Big 10 Championship for any team at Northwestern since the late 1960’s.  Jack and Jamie both love sports and excel in many.  We enjoy camping, fishing, cycling, skiing, beach trips and watching our kids play sports.


I still try to stay fit by running, cycling, hiking and snowshoeing.  10-15 years ago I dabbled in mountain bike and road bike racing and loved it. Now, each year I train for an adventure trip, backpacking and mountain climbing, with my buddy Keith Boyd a fine middle distance runner and teammate from U of I (who also ran in the 1977 Illinois State XC Championship meet for Springfield-Lamphier HS).  Highlights of our climbs include many 14’ers in Colorado, Mount Shasta and Mt. Whitney in California, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier in Washington/Oregon.  We always laugh about how our cross country days prepared us for the training we do for climbing as well as the long climbs themselves.


I enjoyed reading through my dad’s priceless scrapbooks, prepared with meticulous detail, as I wrote this.  A lot of great memories were brought back.  It was also a bit tough for me as I usually don’t like to talk too much about myself and I felt as though I were bragging by writing this….oh well…I guess once in 33 years is OK.


The 9:16 5th Man Looks Back (back to top)


By Dane Rutstein


It was a few summers ago at an annual alumni race that each of us was asked to recall "our fondest memory" of running cross country at Deerfield during the national championship era of the mid-1970s.  A group of us continued to focus our memories later that evening as we gathered for dinner.  Fossilized runners approaching fifty years old, we reminisced over what many still consider the best high school team cross country ever.  If we could somehow have bottled our collective "fondest memory" to pass along to future teams, what a heady drink it would prove to be!  

At Deerfield, we were blessed with a potent combination of talent and discipline and fine coaching and parental support.  It was a lot of fun, but I would venture to say that we ran harder workouts than many college teams.  We were sharply competitive with each other, especially on long runs.  This work ethic trickled down to all team members as they vied for the coveted seventh man spot.  The result was a team so deep it enabled us to win meets easily even when our top stars were sidelined with illness or injury.  


Deerfield was, however, first and foremost a team of thoroughbreds.  Twins Todd and Mark McCallister provided us with national caliber speed and mindset: they had been competing under the tutelage of their father and former coach Dick McCallister since elementary school.  Their vocabulary was spiced with references to fartlek and cutdowns and Igloi training (after the 1950s Hungarian coach who relied exclusively on interval workouts).  To venture out, away from the track, away from the high school course, on a long run of ten miles with the McCallisters was something of an odyssey.  To be sure, we would start off slowly, chatting, easing into the mileage.  But there would always come a point when the conversation would just cease, the pace would quicken, the breathing would become focused and purposeful, and what followed would be a buildup from an unstated start to an undetermined finish that invariably simulated race conditions.  The whole thing might go sometimes for only three quarters of a mile in the middle of the run and crescendo into a mad sprint to some intersection and then stop, followed by a 4 mile recovery trot home.  Or, the buildup might come later in the run and last insanely for a full three miles while you were left to wonder, 'Are we pushing like this all the way back home?  Should I conserve or kick?'  The elements of surprise pace and uncertain distance toughened us all.  This dramatic sibling rivalry between two sub-4:10 milers played itself out in practice, pulling us all along for the ride.  No wonder, then, there are photos of us clustered together in races: we were just replicating those wicked training runs...hanging on to the pace until death. (Image left, Dane leads the charge)

Make no mistake, there were others on the team with talent and potential equal to that of the McCallisters.  Keith Hampton was a former swimmer who actually was the team's top finisher in the Illinois state meet as a junior.  Hampton spent a good part of the senior year injured, although he showed great resiliency by duplicating his time of 14:33 to capture seventh place downstate.  On the track later that year Hampton peaked at 4:11 and 9:05 for the mile and two mile.  Meanwhile, Tom Stevens didn't even run until his sophomore year (he had played football as a freshman).  Stevens was as solid a competitor as they come, capturing 13th in state as a junior.  Though considered 'only' our fourth man for that '77 season with 4:12/9:14 track speed as a junior, Tom had impressive stats of 8:56 and 4:08 as a senior, this coming after the core of our team had gone to college.  Stevens would ultimately go on to compete in the US Olympic Trials in the steeplechase.  

These were the thoroughbreds at Deerfield, my teammates, my friends.  And my rivals!  What was it like being the fifth best runner in the conference or the county, even one of the top ten two-milers in the state, while fighting to be only fourth or fifth man on my very own team?  Not too many 9:16 two-milers out there calling themselves fifth man, are there?  But personally, I revelled in our team's success.  There was hardly any need to anticipate an upcoming meet, hardly any suspense over the results against other teams.  It was pretty obvious what would happen on Saturdays when five of the top ten runners in the state set forth from the same locker room every weekday.  As described earlier, running with the likes of the McCallisters for four years activated a competitive edge in me, it vaulted us all to an elite mindset as individuals.  But for the most part, I enjoyed cross country much more than track because we were so dominant as a team as well as individuals.  Imagine, coming home each weekend with two trophies or medals for running just one race.  It's fun to have all that hardware when you are sixteen or seventeen.

And there was a lot of hardware spread around Deerfield teammates those years.  In 1975 Coach Len Kisellus' harriers won 3rd in State, paced by seniors Dick Ressiguie, Tom Dahlberg, Ben Fields, and Mark Novak.  The next year Deerfield won it all with the likes of seniors Bruce Gilbert and Bill Hayward.  Each of these years included the contributions of the McCallisters, and in 1976 it was Hampton, Rutstein, and fellow junior Greg Less along with the two seniors combining for what would result in Deerfield's first national ranking.  The 1977 season was pre-ordained to be a cakewalk with the returning core of McCallister twins, Hampton, Rutstein, Less, and junior Tom Stevens.  Competing for the harrier's seventh spot that season were seniors Dan Schwartz, John Sales, Bill Maraist, Rick Black, and Grady Smith along with notable underclassmen George Whitten, Erik Johnson and Craig Bauer, and countless others I am afraid to have left out.

The Deerfield program could not have worked without the orchestration of head coach Len Kisellus.  Coach K was more of an older father figure to many---patient, supportive, soft-spoken.  He did all the worrying in the world, though, as the seasons unfolded with the usual injuries and illnesses.  Funny thing is, we won the state meet as seniors without Mark McCallister in the race (12 stitches from being spiked the previous week), and we placed 1st through 5th in our conference meet without Keith Hampton.  All year long we dominated major invitationals with dual meet-like scores while poor Coach K fretted about the competition.  Hell, all the competition was wearing Deerfield on their uniform!  Coach K retired in 1977 after those crowning state and national titles.  

Underclassmen coach Bob Fjelstul remains a truly unheralded but most integral figure behind Deerfield's success.  He doubled as head track coach those years, so his influence on us was actually year-round.  He spotted young talent among junior high runners and he nurtured and motivated freshmen and sophomores into a dynasty ready to ripen.  Bill Hayward, Bruce Gilbert, Keith Hampton, Tom Stevens, Greg Less, and I---all of us---were products of Fjelstul's program.  'Fez' (as he is still known) was an outspoken and youthful complement to Coach K.  He was a great coach: he knew the sport, he knew psychology, and he knew us---as runners, as students, as teenagers, inside and out.  Bob Fjelstul, in my opinion, provided the intangible guide to Deerfield's success.

Assistant coach Rich Elliott was a welcome addition to Deerfield in our senior year.  Rich had run an 8:54 two mile in 1968 to win the Illinois state championship.  His coach had been none other than Dick McCallister (you guessed it, the McCallister twin's dad).  So Rich was really one of us, he ran with us oftentimes, and his presence offered the experience and confidence of a champion.  

Despite all the competition for spots and bragging rights that went along with 'going downstate', we were really just a bunch of teenage kids having fun.  Easy days wereeasy: there were plenty of days we just ran to one of the guys who lived nearest the school and just ate peanut butter sandwiches.  In the summertime we would run over and meet at a park, play softball, and then go run for miles at dusk in our barefeet on the freshly watered golf courses, and then run home in the dark.  Coach Kisellus would treat us to homemade ice cream at his house after some runs, or he would host the legendary "watermelon relays" in August.  I remember driving to Wisconsin with the McCallisters to run around Lake Geneva just for kicks (had to be 22 miles or so and we got steaks afterwards).  And I remember, too, after a Memorial Day run with Mark and Todd as freshman coming back to their house to learn with them that Steve Prefontaine had died.

And speaking of Pre, running was altogether different back then.  I bought my first pair of shoes---leather Onitsuka Tigers for $19.95---from a guy named Dick Pond who used to sell at meets from his trailer.  Nike had just started with its revolutionary waffle sole.  The spikes that were de rigueur, Adidas Tokyos, paid homage to the 1964 Olympics.  There was no sleek clothing to wick away moisture; we wore baggy red mismatching sweat tops and bottoms that would gain twenty pounds of water in the rain or the slush on long runs.  We had a cinder track for five runners with 4:05 to 4:17 mile speed.  Frank Shorter had won the '72 Olympic marathon and Jim Ryun still held the world record in the mile.  The 'running boom' was just underway.  There was no cross-training; you swam in the pool if you were injured, you lifted weights if you cared.  You stretched, there was no yoga.  And if you ran a road race in the summer or a turkey trot after the season had ended in the fall, it was $15 the day of the race and you got a t-shirt and you knew everyone at the starting line.  There were no school websites for posterity, no video, just newspaper clippings and still photos.  What we would do for actual footage of our team!!!  Perhaps it's just as well:  I can still hear clearly the clack-clack-clack-clackof spikes across those few yards of pavement or cinder path that every course had... 

One final and distinct memory I do have that perhaps best captures the essence of our team comes from the 1977 Illiana Invitational, a meet combining the top teams from Illinois and Indiana.  We were simply trotting the course as a warmup and I overheard some other team mutter, "Oh no, Deerfield's here!"  And that was that: we won races before we even put on our spikes, before the gun even went off!  We won them in the summer by running a thousand miles, we won them by waking up early and running a quick six before school on our own, we won them by lifting weights like madmen and trying to out-benchpress one another after practice.  We always had fun as a team, competing with each other, and it paid off.  It's a magic feeling to know you are part of an invincible team.  One carries that feeling of being a national champion and remembers what it is like to have 'won the race before it is even run', no matter what the endeavor, for the rest of one's life.  It does take work and sacrifice and discipline and talent and fun.  And luck.






NEW UPDATE: The Seventh Man PART I by Dan Schwartz   &   The Seventh Man PART II by John Sales