On this day 46 years ago…
Res Gestae 1965 described the cross country team, led by Stony Brook Hall of Famers Pete Randall and Glenn Ogden, as “the best ever at Stony Brook.” Those who witnessed their tri-meet against the West Point plebes and the Cornell University freshmen would have found it difficult to argue with that. The Brookers easily handled the Big Red and edged the West Pointers by a single point to spoil their bid for an undefeated season. Sophomore Mike Wildeman, running in his first race that season as the fifth man, beat his Army counterpart by eight seconds to give the Brook the victory. Randall remembered how the plebes attempted to play havoc with the Brookers’ pacing: “The Army race was about West Point trying military tactics to psyche us out. But all five runners understood pace and we were not sucked into the trap. They all were rabbits but ended up shooting themselves in the foot.”
An instrumental piece of the victory was Coach Marvin Goldberg’s pre-race preparation. Wildeman remembered the workouts the legendary coach subjected his team to in the days leading up to the meet:
They were brutal. Mr. Goldberg would put us through our normal workout, then have us run some hills as an added bonus. I remember one particular workout a few weeks before the West Point meet. We were to run two sets of 5 miles each. As you know, Mr. Goldberg put a stopwatch on everything. Well, this particular workout called for us to run the first three-quarters at a six minutes per mile pace, then the final quarter in around 70-75 seconds. It was the hardest workout I have ever run. There were only three of us who made the required times: Peter Randall, Glenn Ogden, and me.
Wildeman also remembered that day at West Point:
Boy, do I have memories of West Point. It was my sophomore year, my first season of cross country, and the first meet I was in the top five. I have vivid memories of Mr. Goldberg working us constantly on running hills. Parts of every workout for about two to three weeks prior to the West Point meet would be devoted to hills. On particularly unpleasant weather days, Mr. Goldberg would ask us if we thought the Plebes were working as hard as we were.
I also remember the anticipation of going to WEST POINT, to have the privilege of running against the Plebes… wow! I remember visiting West Point on a school field trip as a kid. I was totally enthralled by the entire experience, and now I was going there to compete against them.
Here’s the most vivid part for me: When I came down the final hill and began that big lap around the parade ground, I was just barely ahead of the Plebes’ fifth runner. I didn’t realize it, but Mr. Goldberg certainly did; if I beat that runner, SBS wins by one point, if I let him pass me, the Plebes win by one point. My heart was pounding, because I was our fifth runner, a goal I had wanted to achieve all season. I was anxious, because of the tremendous respect and subtle fear I had of Mr. Goldberg. As I started around the parade ground, all I could hear was Mr. Goldberg’s voice yelling, “Come on, Mike.” He said this over and over again. I couldn’t let him down. We beat the Plebes that day, and again my junior and senior years. This truly is one of my most memorable running moments for SBS and Mr. Goldberg. As I recounted this experience the emotions came back all over again.