Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » The Second Annual Millard Stake MIA Track Meet

The Second Annual Millard Stake MIA Track Meet

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 18, 2008

Before the Olympics have run their course, we really ought to consider some of the ways sports have figured in LDS history, no?

One of the early aims of the Mutual Improvement Associations was to provide wholesome recreation for LDS young people – in a day when people made their own fun, the “fun” that young people too often made, if you can trust the newspapers, involved street corners and vandalism and late nights. A “library and gymnasium” movement begun in the early years of the 20th century encouraged the re-establishment of the ward libraries which MIAs of an earlier generation had collected, and fostered the development of sports programs, including girls’ fitness classes in the old Social Hall and the building of the first Deseret Gym in Salt Lake City.

Wards and stakes in rural areas had no hope of duplicating the facilities that the church built in Salt Lake City, but that didn’t stop them from going whole-heartedly into the new recreation program. Representative of their activities are the stake gatherings held by the Millard Stake, with headquarters at Fillmore, 150 miles south of Salt Lake City.

The three-day meet held at Holden during April 1910 was the stake’s second annual meet. Eight of the stake’s eleven wards entered athletes – both girls and boys – into competition, more than 100 contestants in all. A report of the event preserves a list of the events and the winners:

100-yard dash: Karl H. Day, Fillmore, 10-1/5 seconds
220-yard dash: Karl H. Day, 23-3/4 seconds
440-yard dash: Karl H. Day, 53-3/4 seconds
880-yard run: John Lundahl, Oak City, 2.01 minutes
880-yard relay race: John Lundahl, Winslow Walker, Charles C. Roper, Ray Finlanson, all Oak City, time not reported

One-mile run: Charles C. Roper, Oak City, 4.48 minutes
220-yard hurdle race: Alonzo Huntsman, Fillmore, 27 seconds
Standing high jump: Alonzo Huntsman, height not reported
Running high jump: Alonzo Huntsman, 5 feet, 9 inches
Broad jump, Alonzo Huntsman, 20 feet 6 inches
Shot put: Fred Nielson, Leamington, 32 feet 1 inch
hammer throw: Stanley Lovell, Oak City, 95 feet 8 inches
Pole vault: Fred S. Lyman, Oak City, 8 feet


There were three basketball tournaments, two for the men and one for the women. Oak City took the senior men’s trophy and Hinckley’s team the junior. The young ladies’ trophy was won by the team from tiny Oasis.

The Millard Stake was way ahead of the curve – their sports meet was combined with a literary competition long before the Olympics included a cultural component:

The story-telling component was won by Edith Cooper, Deseret, telling the story of Queen Esther; second prize went to Ada Brunson, Fillmore, whose story was about Miriam.

Winners of the speech contest were A.J. Ashman, Fillmore, on “The Peace Movement,” and Richard Nixon (I kid you not), Holden, on “Abraham Lincoln.”

Silver cups were awarded to all the sports winners, including a cup to Oak City’s ward as having carried off the highest honors overall; the oratorical winners were presented with books (titles, unfortunately, not reported).

Photos, top to bottom:

Alonzo Huntsman

Fred Neilsen

Hinckley team (Junior Basketball winners): standing: F.L. Hickman, coach. Top row: Arthur Reeve, Lucin Whitehead, Johnny Wright, Clarence Bishop. Bottom row: William Blake, Moroni Moody, Johnny Greener.

Oasis team (Ladies’ Basketball winners): Top row: Hulda Hansen, Inga Christensen, Carrie Jensen, Lella Langston, Dora Henry. Bottom row: Lillie Hansen, Ava Bennett.



  1. Those people were fast! The winning time in the 100 yard dash was just .8 seconds off the world record time (9.6 seconds in 1910).

    To compare: the world record in the 100 meter dash was broken on Saturday–it’s now 9.69 seconds. What are the odds that any stake in rural Utah could come up with a sprinter that could run a 10.49 100 meters?

    Comment by Mark B. — August 18, 2008 @ 10:45 am

  2. Decades ago, my stake had an “Olympics” for the YM/YW. In addition to a full range of athletic events, there were competitions in arts & crafts, literature, cooking, etc. As a young priest, I thought is was pretty fun and I remember it fondly. But now, it sure seems like a lot of work for the ward and stake leaders!

    I wonder if Elder Oaks “Good, Better, Best” address and Pres. Julie Beck’s “Mothers Who Know” address suggest that the challenges in this century are limiting and prioritizing, rather than creating, recreational opportunities (at least in the USA).

    Comment by Martin Willey — August 18, 2008 @ 11:07 am

  3. What are the odds that any stake in rural Utah could come up with a sprinter that could run a 10.49 100 meters?

    I haven’t done it yet, but want to look up what Alma Richards did at the Olympics in, what was it, 1912?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 18, 2008 @ 11:10 am

  4. Alma Richards won the gold medal in the high jump in the 1912 Olympics, with a jump of 1.93 meters.

    He was said to be the premier decathlete in the U.S. as the 1916 Olympics approached, but a little fraternal disagreement among some of the European powers led to the 1916 Games being cancelled. He obviously would have run the 100 meters as part of the Decathlon, but I can’t find any records of his times yet.

    This does remind me of a story told by a descendant of Frank B. Woodbury of the Salt Lake Pioneer Stake–Auto Camp Mission. The old New York Stake of his youth (mid 1970s or so) used to have a stake Olympics. There was one young man from Connecticut who could run faster, jump higher, throw farther, etc. than anybody else. His name: Jon S. Young–but he went by his middle name Steve.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 18, 2008 @ 12:01 pm

  5. Those times are too fast.. must have had a faulty watch or timers with itchy fingers or bad memories!

    Olympic Gold Medal for 400 meters was 53.2, 400m is 2.34 m shorter than a 440yards, so you add .3 seconds, so:
    Converted Olympic winner 53.5
    MIA track meet 53.75

    Olumpic 800m winner ran 2:01.5, (converts to 2:02.2)
    converted Olympic time 880yard 2:02.2
    MIA Track meet 2:01

    Oly High Jump 5’10”
    MIA High Jump 5’9″

    Something is off in these results

    Comment by Porter Rockwell — August 18, 2008 @ 4:22 pm

  6. Well, maybe Alma Richards went down to Holden and participated in the meet.

    I’m willing to guess that there were some faulty measurements going on. Maybe it was the distances but more likely the stopwatches and their handlers. And Alma Richards won the high jump.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 18, 2008 @ 6:06 pm

  7. Yeah, that’s it — Alma Richards won the high jump, and Jon S. Young did a little time traveling! :)

    It’s good to have the reality check on these recorded times, Porter. I’ve doublechecked; those are the times/distances/heights recorded, however faulty they may be.

    I was especially interested in hearing that stake Olympics had been held in the not-too-distant past, and that they were enjoyed and remembered. I keep hearing that youth aren’t interested in *doing* anything anymore, that the actual *doing* is one of the attractions of the handcart treks, but I have no contact with teens, even on a ward basis — do you think stake sports and cultural competitions would be welcomed today (acknowledging the amount of leader work they would require, Martin)? If you think teens would groan about them in advance, do you think they would enjoy them once they were actually underway? Is anybody doing anything like them anymore?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 18, 2008 @ 6:32 pm

  8. What struck me (since I have no concept of what is fast and what isn’t) was that women played bball in the early 20th century. (I had no idea, and since bball was my passion as a youth, that was fun to read.)

    Comment by m&m — August 18, 2008 @ 11:03 pm

  9. BTW, we still have stake sports around here, fwiw, but more by sport than Olympic style. We have women called to be YW sports people (bball and volleyball are the sports played, I believe), and YM have bball tournaments, and some others, I believe as well.

    Comment by m&m — August 18, 2008 @ 11:05 pm

  10. It’s easy for us to assume faulty times, but it’s also easy for us to forget that athletics back then (especially in rural areas) wasn’t what it is now – when any extraordinarily fast runner (or supremely gifted athlete) almost is guaranteed widespread exposure and Olympic standard times are relatively well known among coaches and dedicated competitors (even in rural areas). There’s a decent chance these times are legitimate, but those involved simply had no idea that it should have been noteworthy.

    None of the other times and distances seem iffy, so the amazing ones might be real, as well.

    Comment by Ray — August 19, 2008 @ 12:14 am

  11. Purely anecdotal: my grandfather who came out of that cow-milking, heavy farm labor tradition was immensely strong. Here’s a story one of his grandchildren told.

    One summer during our family reunion, he agreed to play softball with the grandchildren. When it was his turn to bat, someone said, “No fair! You’re using your right hand.” (He was right-handed.) So he switched to his left hand and someone said, “No fair! You have two hands on the bat.” So he held the bat with one hand and hit the ball out of the yard, across the street, and over the neighbor’s house.

    There were many hazards of farm life in that era including accidents and childhood diseases and lack of medical care, but the children also were not softened by transfats and refined carbohydrates and time behind a television screen and various other types of electronic substitutes for physical activity. Makes me want to pull all the plugs.

    Also, anyone have any ideas on how accurate overall the time-keeping devices would have been in that era?

    Comment by Researcher — August 19, 2008 @ 6:13 am

  12. The stopwatches were likely much more accurate than the people holding them. In these days of electronic timing, we forget how imprecise are the thumbs pressing the stop “button” on stopwatches.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 19, 2008 @ 7:49 am

  13. Just pull the main plug (tv). Some of the other plugs (computers) are good. =)

    Seriously, I quit watching tv around 1982 and my quality of life went way way up. So I can never resist the chance to proselytize my wonderful discovery.

    Comment by Tatiana — August 19, 2008 @ 7:59 am

  14. FWIW, I did some searches using the NY Times archive to get a sense of how some high school and college athletes on the east coast were performing at that time.

    For example:

    HighSchool meet
    College meet

    Comment by Justin — August 19, 2008 @ 8:12 am

  15. A state meet in Utah in May 1908 featuring the U of U, BYU, AC, LDSU, and BYC:

    Varsity Takes Half the Points

    Comment by Justin — August 19, 2008 @ 8:15 am

  16. That helps a lot, Justin. It doesn’t look like the times were that far off, if we allow for the likelihood that even college athletes weren’t making a career out of training for years to shave a fraction of a second off their times. Karl H. Day and Alonzo Huntsman were both fit young men who would probably have made a good showing at any amateur meet.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 19, 2008 @ 8:52 am

  17. I also found that Brinton, the top U sprinter, ran a 10 1-5 in the 100-yard dash in May 1908 (vs. Stanford) and April 1909 (vs. the AC). I would agree with Mark B. in #12 regarding the timing issue.

    Comment by Justin — August 19, 2008 @ 9:04 am

  18. A belated thanks for the interesting post, Ardis. Some of my ancestors were living in Millard County during that time period.

    Comment by Justin — August 19, 2008 @ 9:35 am

  19. Great stuff, Justin. The Times article mentions high schools that are still household names in the high school track and field world nearly 100 years later. My four oldest children ran cross-country and track in high school, and Stuyvesant (two daughters’ alma mater) and Boys (now “Boys and Girls”) and Townsend Harris (one gold star for the person who can identify him–no googling allowed) and Manual Training and Erasmus are all still around. Hunter (another daughter’s alma mater) was an all-girls school back then, so it didn’t show up, nor did Brooklyn Tech, which was founded later.

    The times (whether in Millard County or New York City) are impressive because of the quality of the tracks back then–the best were cinders, not rubberized glop or whatever they are now–and the starting “blocks”–two small toeholds dug in the cinders. It would be interesting to see what the Millard County boys could do on a modern track.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 19, 2008 @ 10:34 am