The eternal Mile Relay record?

Records are meant to be broken right?
Apparently not this one.
This month the Redwood Empire Mile Relay record turned 50 years old.
Not sure why this is but maybe it’s because that was the year The Beatles broke up.
It wasn’t even a very old record.

From 1915-1967 the state meet and other major meets had the 880 yard relay (4X220) as the only relay event.
In 1968 California switched to the Mile Relay (4X440) and the 440 yard Relay (4X110).

For the Redwood Empire that the 880 yard relay record was set and stands today at 1:27.7 by Montgomery 1967.
(Gary Silveira, Wes Dickison, Joe Stender, Mel Gray, avg 21.9)
The Empire’s six fastest 880 relays were all before 1968 with no local schools cracking into those ranks since.

Vallejo High was the North Bay League Pennant winners in both 1968 and 1969.
They also had the best Mile relay teams for the area.
In 1968 at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions they set our first Empire record at 3:19.9. A mark still in the All-Time top 10 performances, equal to a 1600 meter time of 3:18.89. California switched from yard races to meterics in 1981. Vallejo won the 1968 NBL title at 3:24.8.

Joe DeDora ran for Montgomery in 1969 and made it to the state meet as a sophomore in the 220 with a season best of 22.0.
At the NCS 3A meet the mile relay team times were Vallejo 3:22.2, Napa 3:23.5 and Montgomery 3:24.3.
Santa Rosa High School junior Carl Sagon was the NBL 440 champion in 50.5 that year.
DeDora 1969 state story

DeDora transfered to Santa Rosa in 1970, thus creating the dream team.
The Santa Rosa squad would break the NBL record with a 3:23.0 time
At the NCS 3A meet the team of Carl Sagon, Ken Borbe, Wayne Praeder and Joe DeDora would break the Empire record for the first time with a 3:19.1 time.
That still stands as the NCS Redwood Empire Regional Meet record at a converted 3:18.19 for 1600 meters.
See story here

Next came the NCS MOC meet and a controversial finish.
Today’s Fully Automatic Timing systems with their cameras are usually very accurate and easy to decide the close races but what they had in 1970 was a far cry from that. You can see that next but basically the end result was Berkeley 1st in 3:20.9 and Santa Rosa 2nd in the same time.

Next came a special match race.

Finally the record race that still stands today.
It was at the 1970 State meet trials.
DeDora had already qualified for the finals in the open 440.
In the mile relay trials the Santa Rosa runners would average under 49.18 for 400 meters.
Their time of 3:17.6 for the mile is equal to a 1600 in 3:16.70.
Here are their splits for 440 yards. (Carl Sagon 49.6y, Wayne Praeder 50.5y, Ken Borbe 49.7y, Joe DeDora 47.8y)

The bad news was at that years meet advancement was top three from each heat and they ended up in the fastest heat getting fourth. Their trials time would have been 5th in the finals.

Heat 1 
3:16.1 Los Altos         CC    
3:16.8 Technical         Oak     
3:17.4 Los Angeles       LA  
3:17.6 Santa Rosa        NCS
3:20.7 Kennedy, Richmond NCS

Heat 2
3:18.7 LB Poly           S     
3:18.7 Morningside       S     
3:20.9 Gunn              CC
3:20.9 El Cerrito        NCS

Heat 3
3:19.5 Blair, Pasadena   S
3:20.3 Dominguez         S     
3:20.4 Mt. Whitney, Visalia CC

1 3:15.6 Los Altos   CC    
2 3:16.6 LB Poly     S     
3 3:16.9 Morningside S     
4 3:17.5 Dominguez   S     
5 3:17.9 Technical   Oak    
6 3:18.7 Los Angeles LA  
? Gunn, Blair, Mt. Whitney ?

DeDora placed 5th in the finals 440 and you can watch that here. Movie of 1970 State Meet; DeDora at 14:30 spot Very slow loading

1971 would be similar to 1970 with DeDora running 48.1 for the still-standing NBL Meet record, = 48.16 400.
Again the relay team would have their best time at the state trials (3:21.7) but not make the finals and DeDora would run his fastest open 440 at 47.3 but only earn 7th with that time.

Since then teams have tried to do what Santa Rosa did but all have come up short.

Close calls
2013 Herbie Polk, Maria Carrillo ran 48.34 at NBL finals to just miss meet record.
The 2013 Maria Carrillo relay team clocked 3:17.59 for 1600 meters at MOC.
And the 2017 Maria Carrillo team placed 6th at state in 3:17.65.

The Mile Relay is not the only Empire record to last from before 1980.

100 yards 9.4 Mel Gray, Montgomery 1967 = to 10.54 100 meters in 1970
100 meters 10.69 James Burrell, Piner 1977, wind legal

220 yards 20.7 Mel Gray, Montgomery 1967 = to 20.82 200 meters

880 yards 1:49.7 Dan Aldridge, Petaluma 1975 = to 1:49.31 800 meters

Long Jump 25-7¼w Mel Gray, Montgomery 1967, also 24-11 wind legal

At a later date I will be adding onto this for my History of the Mile Relay.