Saturday, September 25, 2010

Former runner Gruber thrilled for today’s Kansas Athletics HOF induction


U.S. Olympic distance runner Charlie Gruber officially retired from track and field at the conclusion of the 2006 season.

Unofficially he’s still going strong at the age of 32.

Kansas Athletics HOF

What: 2010 induction

When: 10:15 a.m. today

Where: Booth Family Hall of Athletics

Admission: Free

“The last three years, I’ve done a full marathon — Chicago two years and New York. I ramp up for that (every year),” said Gruber, a five-time All-American out of Kansas University who this morning will be inducted into the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame.

“I have fun skiing, biking, mountain biking and a full working career (in software in the Denver suburb of Morrison, Colo.). It’s nice, but I do miss the all-out competition,” Gruber added.

Gruber — he’s joined in the KU Hall’s Class of 2010 by basketball All-American Wayne Simien, three-sport athlete Harold Patterson and the 2003-04 men’s basketball team — earned a spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team after finishing second in the 1,500 at the 2004 Olympic Trials. He placed ninth in his opening-round competition at the Olympic Games.

Gruber also won the 1999 and 2000 Big 12 Conference Outdoor 1,500 titles. He finished second at the 2001 NCAA Indoor in the mile with a time of 3:58.51, becoming the Jayhawks’ second athlete ever to better four minutes indoors. The same year, Gruber was also part of the school-record-breaking and Big 12-champion distance medley relay team. Gruber also holds the school indoor 1,000-meter record of 2:21.72.

“I’ve got to be honest and say I wasn’t planning on this,” Denver Mullen High School grad Gruber said of ultimately becoming a Hall of Famer. “When you think of Jim Ryun and Wes Santee ... to be mentioned with those guys is a big honor.”

Gruber has been reflecting on his KU career a lot in recent days.

“What I keep coming back to are relationships I formed with teammates, coaches, trainers and everybody in between,” said Gruber, who credits former KU distance coach Doug Clark for his guidance.

“It’s what I remember most. We’ll have 30-plus people coming out (for 10:15 a.m. picture unveiling at Booth Family Hall of Athletics, open to public). We’re a close-knit group.”

The other members of KU’s All-America distance medley relay team will be here in support of Gruber today: Jabari Wamble, Andy Tate and Brian Blachly.

“To able to be All-American with three of my closest friends ... having all three there to share with each other means a lot to me,” Gruber said.

Leavenworth native Simien, who now makes his home in Lawrence and serves as a mentor to KU athletes in all sports, was a consensus first-team All-American his senior year (2005). He also was a two-time all-Big 12 first-team selection (2004 and 2005) and the 2005 Big 12 Player of the Year.

“It’s a great honor. I’m really excited for the 2004 team induction, to get the guys together and be honored and of course be able to tell a few stories,” Simien said.

The 2004 team had a record of 24-9, finished tied for second in the Big 12 and earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s St. Louis Region.

Rozel native Patterson lettered in football, basketball and baseball from 1952-54.


Gary Wirsig 8 years, 6 months ago

Would love to be there for the induction, but am halfway across the country. Just finished reading "The Perfect Mile" about the quest of three runners - Roger Bannister, John Landy, and our own Wes Santee - to be the first to break the 4 minute mile. Although Wes was close, he never quite cracked the 4 minute barrier, missing it by 6 tenths of a second, for a combination of reasons. For one, he was a team player and had to run numerous races besides the open mile for the benefit of the track team, but I'm beginning to ramble...

Another tidbit - Bill Mayer got a mention in the book as the one of the first local men who received the "ticker tape" news that Bannister was the first man to break the 4 minute barrier. BTW, where is Mr. Mayer these days - haven't heard from him in awhile - did I miss his retirement?

Congratulations to you, Charlie - you accomplished what Mr. Santee could not, and you are setting a great example for future generations of Jayhawks.

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