Monthly Archives: July 2014

Billy Mills and the 1959 Big 8 Cross Country Championships

Yesterday when I doing dissertation research at the University of Oklahoma Archives, I came across this document. As you can see below, it’s a copy of the official Big Eight Conference Cross Country Meet results from 1959. At first glance the document was meaningless to me. It’s completely unrelated to my current project on the University of Oklahoma football. At second glance, however, I noticed Billy Mills’ name. Because I wrote my master’s thesis on Billy Mills, I took a quick photo and though it would be fun to share it with him on Facebook (I’m friends with his wife and they share an account). Upon seeing the photo, the shared a couple of short tidbits about the race.

big 8 meet

First, as the document explains, the meet was held in Lawrence, KS on a gusty November day. The University of Kansas won the team title and Billy Mills was their lead runner taking second-place. He finished the 3 mile course, which was in “perfect” condition, in a time of 14:11.0. Miles Eisenman of Oklahoma State won the race in a new meet record of 13:55.2. According to the splits at the bottom of the page, he took the lead around the first mile and never looked back.

Yesterday Mills relayed his experience in the race to me on Facebook. His recollections expand upon the information and add some drama to the meet. The race was pretty rough for him. He, along with 2 or 3 other guys, fell around the 2 mile mark. The fall likely cost him sometime, but he got up and tried his best to chase down Eisenman. Mills finish was important in helping KU secure the team-title. Though this story is relatively briefly and somewhat insignificant, it adds an important personal perspective to official document. By reading the meet results alone, you would never know about the fall and the close physical battle among the runners.

Mills was ecstatic to see the sheet tonight. It clearly took him back. It’s always fun to remember old time and old friends, even those who’ve passed on. According to Mills, Miles Eisenman passed away this year. Seeing this tonight was likely a nice tribute and reminder of that race and his close rivalry. Mills was a junior in 1959. As a senior, he won the 1960 Big 8 Cross Country meet.