Fred Seward and the
Bloomington High School track team

My great uncle, Fred Seward was very proud of his athletic career at Bloomington High School and Indiana University in the early 1900s and had quite a collection of trophies and medals from those days. I remember seeing his trophy case when we visited his daughter, Dr. Doris Seward, at Penn State in the '70s. We hope that one of his grandsons has Fred's medal collection in his home.

Fred Seward held a state record for the hundred yard dash which wasn't broken for more than a half century. He said he would have been on the U. S. Olympic team at St. Louis in 1904 had he not torn up a knee playing football.

The following undated clippings relating to Fred's track exploits at Bloomington High School were in my grandmother's scrapbook...

Bloomington Hi Won State
Track Meet Forty Years Ago
On Jordan Field Here

It was just forty years ago, Fred A. Seward recalled today, that Bloomington High School won its first and only state championship in track. He should know for he was captain of the team.

The state meets are now held in Indianapolis but then Jordan Field was the site of the big struggle and fans and athletes came from far and near by horse and buggy, by train, and on foot to see the competition. A few of them may have come by automobile for there were a few - very few - such vehicles chugging along the roads then.

It was in 1904 that Bloomington Hi won that historic state track championship. It was the first state meet ever held under the auspices of the present I. H. S. A. A., Mr. Seward, well known local man recalled. The Panther coach was J. C. Castleman.

The Purple state championship in track came four years after the organization of the first Bloomington Hi track and field team under the direction of Coach Hale Bradt.

In those days the hammer throw and the discus were routine track events, although these two activities are no longer sponsored by the I. H. S. A. A. Bicycle racing also was a part of track meets then, although this event was not included in the state meet of 1904.

The speed demon bicycle racer on Coach Bradt's team was Blaine W. Bradfute. He shone in the sprocket and pedal competition in the Southern Indiana League, a conference made up of schools located on one side or another of the Monon, including Bloomington, Salem, Paoli, Mitchell, Orleans, Bedford, and, Mr. Seward believed, Washington (a non-Monon school).

In the state championship meet the Panthers took five firsts, three seconds, and a third. Captain Seward, who stomped a mean pair of spikes, won both hurdle events. Zimmer gave the local school first place in the quarter. And a youth named Buckley, who now lives in Texas, won not only the discus throw but also captured the pole vault first place award.

Fred Seward, captain of the only state championship track team Bloomington High School ever had, ran the fastest hundred-yard dash that has ever been run by a Purple Panthers, we believe. It was back in 1904 or thereabouts that he whizzed the cinders to cover the distance in nine and eight-tenths seconds. There was some controversy as to whether this time should be recognized as official due to the fact that the hundred yards he ran was slightly downhill part of the way - or so claimed one of the scorers. Also, they didn't have the tenths of seconds on their stopwatches then - the watches being designed to chop up seconds into one-fifth chunks instead of shave them down to tenths. Allowance was made for the coarse-geared watches, however, and Fred ran the distance in less than ten seconds more than once, so that the :9.08 [sic - should be :09.8!] hundred yard dash was generally accepted as his legitimate property.

Mr. Seward, who remains an enthusiastic sports fan, feels that the hundred yard dash running in the early nineteen-hundreds was being done just about as fast as it will ever be done, although he freely admits that in the distance running the modern athlete is able to do a better job because coaches have learned from years of experience how to direct their long-distance steppers so as to cover the greatest distance in the fewer seconds. "We used to run all the way as hard as we could in distance events; but now it is done differently and with better results."

Bloomington Hi Won State Title In Track In 1904; These Are The Champions

1904 BHS track team

TOP ROW -- (left to right) -- Max Miller, John Sutphin, George Carpenter, and Charles Woolery.

BOTTOM ROW -- (left to right) -- Lea White, George Zimmer, Professor-Coach John C. Castleman, Captain Fred Seward, and Roy Buckley.

Pictured above is the Bloomington High School track team of 1904 which won the only state track championship of which B. H. S. can boast. The competition was on Jordan Field and it was the first state track tournament ever sponsored by the present Indiana High School Athletic Association.

The Bloomingtonites won five firsts, three seconds, and a third place to garner a total of 35 points -- and the state title, of which the loving cup held by Professor-Coach (he taught English and coached on the side) Castleman, in the picture.

Somewhat misleading in the picture is the banner on which appears, "Orleans S. I. A. A. '04." The banner, however, has a perfect right to be in the picture. It was won by the Bloomingtonites at Orleans in a Southern Indiana Athletic Association track meet, held shortly before the state meet.

The athletes in the picture:

This page was last updated 17 Oct 2004.