Trivia Question - NO GOOGLING ALLOWED!!!!


I came across something last week that blew my mind. It didn’t blow my mind that it happened, it blew my mind that I didn’t know that it happened. However, after poking around, I discovered that the most knowledgeable track nerds/historians in this area didn’t know that it happened. Again, NO GOOGLING ALLOWED!!! You either know it or you don’t.

Ok, Here’s the question:

“In 1964, a 17-year-old high school junior from Kansas made the U.S. Olympic track and field team and competed in Tokyo. This athlete won the Trials and would go on to set multiple American records and even a world record. THIS ATHLETE IS NOT JIM RYUN. Name this athlete.”

Yup, Kansas had TWO 17-year-old high school juniors on the 1964 Tokyo Olympic team. I damn near fell over when I found that out. I also damn near fell over when I realized their performances would still have them among the top 3-5 high school athletes in the U.S. today, more than 50 years later. That will be particularly relevant when you learn who the athlete is and what their event was.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnddddddddddd - GO!


I don’t know the answer and I’m not going to google it. I’ll just wait to see who knows the answer. Vinyl records are making a comeback, why not information seeking like before the internet? Somebody’s got to have some old issues of Track and Field News lying around.


In this case, Sports Illustrated might be more help. This athlete was on the cover of SI the following year. Again, NOT Jim Ryun.

And on the subject of vinyl records, the Twerp asked for, and received, a record player for her 17th birthday last month.


Aw, c’mon, somebody at least guess!


a wild partial guess
A famous baseball pitcher who tossed the jav.


Nope. Pure track athlete. Keep trying.

When I tell you the name, you’ll go “who?”

When I tell you their story, you wonder, like I did, how the hell you never knew this.


I’ll give you some hints:

  1. This athlete’s initials were JS.

  2. This athlete was on the cover of SI a year later, shortly after turning 18.

  3. This athlete was the lone American representative in the event in which they competed in Tokyo.

  4. This athlete’s event was on the track. It was not a field event.

  5. This athlete set three American Records and one World Record.


I’ve been at the WHO? stage since you posted.


Well… that shoots down my guess at John Dye…


Ok, time for some more clues:

  1. SHE is still #1 on the KS all-time HS list in HER event.

  2. HER performance would still make HER in the top 3 HS performers in HER event in the country virtually every single year.

  3. HER World Record was an Indoor WR.

  4. SHE is a retired school teacher still living within 50 miles of her hometown.

  5. HER father was also world-class in his era.

  6. HER nickname was “The Fredonia Flash.”

When you find out, you’ll be just as shocked as I was.


Or do you guys just wanna tap out and I’ll give you the answer?


Ok, here ya go.

Ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce to you one of the greatest unknown or forgotten Olympic athletes in U.S. history: Ms. Janell Smith (now Carson).

In 1965, Janell Smith ran 52.3 for 400 meters in a mixed race against boys because there were no high school girls teams for her to compete against. She was the AAU National Champion in both 1964 and 1965. She broke the 400m AR four times (I was wrong, I thought it was only three), topped by a best of 53.7 against all-female competition in Warszawa, Poland when she was just 18. She also set the American Record in the 220-yard dash when she was just 15, and tied the AR in the 70-yard hurdles as a HS soph. She advanced to the semi-final in Tokyo but did not qualify for the final. She was the lone American entry in the women’s 400 in Tokyo.

She was featured on the May 10, 1965 cover of Sports Illustrated along with fellow female HS phenom Marie Mulder in this lengthy article about the “progress” in women’s sports: May 10, 1965 SI Article “This is the Way Girls Go”

After graduating from high school, she went to Emporia State University, which had no women’s track program. Because of the lack of opportunity for women, she essentially retired though she did attempt a comeback in 1968. By then she was married and discovered she was pregnant as she was beginning to train.

Think about this for a second.

No Title IX.

No girls HS sports.

Only a couple of colleges with women’s programs.

Living in Fredonia, Kansas.

Basically no girls were participating or competing in that era compared to today.

Cinder tracks and leather spikes.

Despite that, Smith (now Carson) still holds the #1 spot on the KS all-time list and her 52.3 would still make her one of the top 3 HS girls in the country nearly every year, despite the fact that female participation is probably up literally 10,000% from what it was her era.

I knew she was legendary and fast. I had NO IDEA she joined fellow Kansas high school junior Jim Ryun on that 1964 Olympic team.


Now y’all can Google all ya want.


Looks like an interesting article for anyone that can get in! Note there are many entities that sponsor residential gateway passes to this resource so you don’t have to pay so check with your libraries.