With an eye on the future, the CIF Southern Section remembered its past when it unveiled its “100 Athletes for 100 Years” on Saturday at a reception in Los Angeles.
The list featured three former local standouts who helped blaze trails along the Glendale sports landscape.
Frank Wykoff and Frank Albert of Glendale High and Hoover’s Jack Davis, all of whom are deceased, were bestowed with recognition as being among the 100 greatest CIF Southern Section athletes.
Criteria for receiving the accolade included participation in a CIF Southern Section sport and having success at all levels (high school, collegiate, Olympic and professional ranks).
Wykoff starred at track and field with the Nitros. Albert was a stellar football, basketball and baseball player. Davis shined in track and field.
Wykoff enjoyed a brilliant career at Glendale before graduating in 1928. His best work came in 1928 when he set a world record in the 100-yard dash in 9.4 seconds in an Amateur Athletic Union meet. At Glendale, he captured a combined nine CIF Southern Section and state titles before attending Glendale Community College and USC.
“From what I understand, the entire community rallied around him,” Glendale Athletic Director Pat Lancaster said. “He’s one of the all-time greats who was around during the heyday of Glendale High sports.
“I look at the things he did and I’m in awe of his accomplishments. To be in high school and still qualify for the Olympics is something that’s incredible.”
Wykoff was a member of three world-record setting 400-meter relay teams, anchoring all three teams.
In Olympic competition, he ran the leadoff leg on the 1928 gold medal winning 400-meter relay in the same year he graduated. He anchored the United States to gold medals in 1932 and 1936.
In the 1936 meet, he ran on a team which also featured legend Jesse Owens. Wykoff helped rally the United States to victory over Germany with Adolf Hitler in attendance. The United States clocked 39.8 seconds to win the 1936 gold and set a world record that would last until 1956.
Wykoff twice finished fourth in the 100 meters in the Olympics, as he ran 11.0 in 1928 and 10.6 in 1936. Jesse Owens won the 1936 event in 10.3.
Wykoff died in 1980 at 70.
Albert, who graduated from Glendale High in 1938, was selected the Southern California and State Football Player of the Year after leading the Nitros to a CIF championship in 1937. Glendale posted a 15-14 win against Santa Barbara in the title contest.
“You talk about him being a pioneer,” Lancaster said. “He was just a remarkable athlete.
“He could play almost any sport and play them well. When he was at Glendale High, he was somebody who was feared and respected.”
Albert then starred at Stanford University, helping the Cardinal go undefeated in 1940 and win the Rose Bowl in 1941 against Nebraska. He went on to play professionally with the San Francisco 49ers, quarterbacking the team for seven seasons. He passed for 10,795 yards in his career with 113 touchdown passes.
While with the 49ers, Albert played in the All-American Conference, before the team moved into the NFL in 1950. He set a then-record for touchdown passes in a season with 29 in 1948, but it wasn’t recognized by the NFL. He played briefly in Canada before returning to the 49ers as head coach from 1956-1958.
Albert died in 2002 at 82.
Davis flourished for the Tornadoes for several seasons before excelling at USC and representing the United States in a pair of Olympics.
After moving to Glendale from Texas, Davis developed an affinity for track and field. During his senior season at Hoover in 1949, Davis enjoyed a breakout season. He captured the CIF Southern Section 120-yard high hurdles (now 110 meter) title in 14.5 seconds. He then recorded a first-place finish in the same race in 14.4 to win the state title.
At USC, Davis continued to focus on track and earned varsity letters between 1951-53. USC developed a dynastic reign, which included winning an NCAA championship from 1951-53. Davis captured three titles in the 120-yard hurdles and took the 220-yard hurdle championship in 1953, when he served as the Trojans' team captain.
Davis then participated in the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki and Melbourne, respectively, earning a pair of silver medals.
In the 110-meter hurdles in Helsinki, Davis and U.S. teammate Harrison Dillard were involved in a close race. Davis built a slight lead before hitting the ninth barrier and losing his advantage. Davis and Dillard each reached the finish line in a then-record 13.7 seconds. However, a photo finish showed Dillard had won by a nose. Automatic timing did not become available until the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.
In the same event in the 1956 Olympics, Davis and fellow American Lee Calhoun streaked to the finish line with both clocking 13.5, which became another Olympic record. Calhoun leaned noticeably forward at the tape to win the gold medal.
Sam Nicholson, who was a teammate of Davis’ at Hoover, said Davis brought grit to the Tornadoes.
“He was a great athlete and he could do a lot of different things,” said Nicholson, who later served as Hoover’s track and field coach from 1956-64. “He had so much speed to go along with his size.
“He was very tough. Of all the people I have known in track and field, he was by far the best. It’s a great honor for him to be recognized.”
Davis died in July at 81.
The panel that made the selections consisted of media, local historians and former members of the CIF Southern Section staff and executive committee. The show will be shown on FOX Sports West at a time to be announced.