Sports

It’s been 50 years since Jim Ryun achieved a nation’s first

Wichita East’s s Jim Ryun crosses the finish line with a state-record time of 3:58.3 in the mile on May 15, 1965, at the Kansas state high school meet at Wichita’s Veterans Field.
Wichita East’s s Jim Ryun crosses the finish line with a state-record time of 3:58.3 in the mile on May 15, 1965, at the Kansas state high school meet at Wichita’s Veterans Field. The Wichita Eagle

Jim Ryun had broken four minutes in the mile before. In 1964 at the Compton Invitational near Los Angeles, he ran a 3-minute, 59-second mile to become the first schoolboy to break the barrier.

But that had come against a world-class field. Ryun was a 17-year-old junior at Wichita’s East High, though he was nationally known as an up-and-coming American talent. He finished eighth in the race.

In his senior track season at East, Ryun was back to running against high school competition, not being pushed as he would against world-class and nationally elite collegiate runners.

But on May 15, 1965, Ryun took the track at Wichita State’s Veterans Field with a plan to break four minutes again. He finished in 3:58.3, becoming the first high schooler in America to crack four minutes in a mile against only high school competition.

Here’s a look at the race, photographs from Ryun’s career and other Eagle stories about Ryun’s achievements.

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