Roscoe Cook, Bobby Staten, Willie Jordan, and Charles (Sugar Jet) Davis comprised a swift foursome of San Diego High athletes who surprised the field and brought home a Southern California track championship.
The biggest surprise was supplied by Cook.
Cook entered the season as the 1956 Class B sprint titlist, having run away from the field the previous spring with best times of :09.7 in the 100-yard dash, and :21.0 in the 220.
It was expected that Cook and Staten would dominate the short races and low hurdles and that Davis, one of the city’s best quartermilers, and Jordan, a complementary sprinter, would round out a championship 880-yard relay team.
A downpour shortly after the first race canceled the Southern Counties’ Invitational at Huntington Beach High in the first week in March, delaying the usual official beginning of the season.
With no early reading on what to expect, the Cavemen then prepared for a intersectional dual meet in Balboa Stadium with powerful Compton Centennial.
UNBEATEN AT HOME
Cook had never lost a race in San Diego but he was beaten in a :09.9 100 by Centennial’s tall, long-striding Preston Griffin, a newcomer to the Southern California scene.
Griffin also took the national lead with a 24-foot, 6 ¾-inch broad jump. Cook was third despite breaking a 19-year-old school record with a leap of 23-10. Griffin’s teammate, John Blaylock, was second at 23-11 in a remarkable competition.
Cook, Staten, Davis, and Jordan (clockwise from upper left) carried San Diego High hopes.
The final and stunning indignity came in the 220 when Griffin, jogging casually the last 15 yards, eased to a :21.6 and Cook was a well-beaten third. Griffin also withstood a charge by Staten as Centennial won the 880-yard relay in 1:28.8 and the meet, 60 1/2-43 1/2.
Seven weeks later, Griffin blazed a :09.5 100 in a semifinals, qualifying meet and appeared unbeatable. On the same day Cook won a heat in a season-best: 09.8 in another divisional competition at Arroyo High in El Monte.
Cook quietly also served some notice as he took the measure of Alhambra’s Rusty Weeks, who’d run :09.6 the week before.
SHORT AND QUICK
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