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University of Missouri

Cinder Fellas

Mizzou celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1965 national champion indoor track team.

mizzou indoor track 1965

Charlie Brown was the 60-yard sprinter on Mizzou’s 1965 NCAA champion indoor track team. Photo from the 1966 Savitar.

It was Mizzou’s second national championship in a team sport when the 1965 men’s indoor track and field squad took the crown and joined the 1954 baseball champions in the annals of Missouri athletics, but it was really another first.

Led by Tom Botts, MU’s coach from 1947–72, the Tigers won the NCAA’s inaugural national indoor meet in Detroit.

“If everyone can score, it adds up, and you can come out on top,” says Earl Denny (Bentonville, Arkansas), BS Ed ’70, former long jumper and hurdler.

And score they did: Charles Brown (St. Louis), BS Ed ’67, in the 60-yard dash; the late Gene Crews, BA ’66, in the shot put; Steve Herndon (Linn, Missouri), BS HE ’68, in the high jump; the late Robin Lingle, BS EE ’65, MS ’66, in the 1,000-yard run; and Denny in the long jump to push the Tigers past runner-up Oklahoma State March 13, 1965, at Cobo Arena.

Back then, Missouri ran the cinder track in Brewer Fieldhouse, and athletes churned up dust to the ceiling. By winning the Big Eight in Kansas City, Missouri, Feb. 27, the squad punched its ticket to the Motor City.

The 2015 season is the 50th anniversary of the national championship. Mizzou Athletics is still determining how it will honor the team during the indoor season, which begins Jan. 10, 2015, in Columbia.

Rest assured homage will be paid to Botts, who coached 48 individual conference champions in track, 23 All-Americans, five national champions and two Olympians during his time at Mizzou.