Crank Runs Way
Into HCC Record Book,
And He's Still There
The year was 1976 …
The United States celebrated its Bicentennial … gasoline was 59 cents per gallon … The $2 bill was issued … The movie “Rocky” was released.
That same year in Pasadena, Texas, at the NJCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Hutchinson Community College runner Ted Crank etched his name in Blue Dragon history by winning the national title in the 1,500 meters.
The winning time was 3 minutes, 46.6 seconds, a Blue Dragon school record.
So one might wonder what HutchCC’s 1,500-meter record time is now some 39 years later … Crank’s 3 minutes, 46.6 seconds set in 1976.
“It’s been a long time,” said Crank, a Blue Dragon Quarterback Club Hall of Fan inductee who owns the longest-running record on the Hutchinson men’s outdoor track charts. “When I ran it, I didn’t have any idea it would last this long.
Growing up in Hutchinson, Crank loved sports and he was looking for the discipline that suited him best. His first love was basketball. He also tried football and baseball, but his physical size didn’t give him an opportunity for long-term success, calling himself a “short, skinny kid.”
Once he reached middle school age, Crank started to compete in track and field. The first race he ran was an 880-yard race for Liberty Junior High at a meet in McPherson.
“I went out real fast,” Crank recalled, “I felt like I would be better off in the lead. During the race I wasn’t looking around to see where anybody was. I won the race, turned around and looked and second place was just coming around the turn.
“At that moment I realized I had found my sport.”
After a great high school career at Hutch High – he still owns Salthawk boys records in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters set in 1974 – Crank wanted to follow the path of his idol, Jim Ryun, a Kansas native and legend at the University of Kansas. But the Jayhawks weren’t calling, so Hutchinson track coach Terry Masterson convinced him to become a Blue Dragon.
Crank was part of very successful track and cross country programs at HutchCC. Crank’s two cross country teams finished eighth nationally in 1974 and won Region VI in 1975, finishing 10th. Crank was the 1975 Region VI cross country individual champion.
On the verge of completing two very good seasons running for the Blue Dragons, Crank had one more race to run, the 1976 NJCAA championships in Pasadena.
Crank was not considered one of the favorites to win the 1,500 meters. Crank qualified for the 1,500 meters as a freshman in 1975, but did not make the finals. His 1976 goal was to make the finals and earn All-America honors. His workouts were intense with the sole purpose of getting him ready for that moment.
Prepared for a fast pace, the start of the 1976 1,500-meter finals was indeed fast.
“The favorite went out very fast and everybody followed him,” Crank said. “I think he was just trying to run everybody’s legs off. I just hung on for dear life.”
The pace never slowed. The splits were staggering – first lap in 58 seconds, second lap in 1:03, third lap in 1:03 and the final lap in 60 seconds. Crank settled into third place at the 800-metet mark and trailed the lead runners by 15 yards. With about 250 meters returning, Crank noticed the lead pack laboring. He had his chance.
“I saw those two guys fading and I thought to myself, ‘I shouldn’t settle for third place.’ I had a chance to win this thing,” Crank said. “When I saw them coming back to me, I got a tremendous amount of adrenaline.”
Crank made his move and rounding the last curve, the Blue Dragon sophomore took the lead and wasn’t about to let anybody catch him. His 3:46.6 time was 2 seconds faster than his previous best time.
“It was such a great feeling to take the lead,” Crank remembered. “That last 100 yards was probably the fastest I ever ran in my whole life.”
After Hutchinson, Crank moved onto the University of Kansas where he competed on both the Jayhawk cross country and track teams and he was a team captain for both as a senior.
Crank continues in track and field as U.S. Track and Field certified official. Crank has officiated several KU Relays as well as the NJCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships hosted by Hutchinson Community College in 2009-11, 2013 and 2015.