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more on Ralph Metcalfe from 2008
Penn Relays will honor Metcalfe, XU champions
April 19, 2010

     NEW ORLEANS — Ralph Metcalfe was serving his country in World War II when Xavier University of Louisiana made history at the 1942 Penn Relays Carnival. This weekend the former Xavier coach and the relay team he assembled will be honored at the 116th running of the United States' oldest annual track and field event.
     This is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Metcalfe, known as the "World's Fastest Human" in the early 1930s and a four-time Olympic medalist before coaching Xavier's men's track and field teams from the fall of 1936 through December 1941.
     Metcalfe resigned from Xavier and joined the U.S. Army soon after the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Giles Wright, an XU assistant coach, replaced Metcalfe, and the relay team Metcalfe recruited — sophomores Herbert Douglas, William Morton and Clarence Doak and senior Howard Mitchell — didn't miss a step. That quartet's time of 41.7 seconds in the 440-yard relay made Xavier the first HBCU (historically black college or university) to win a relay at the Penn Relays.
     Metcalfe died in 1978 at age 68 after being elected four times to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from Illinois' first congressional district. Douglas — the only surviving member of the relay team and a member of the Board of the Friends of the Penn Relays — Xavier President Dr. Norman C. Francis and Metcalfe's son, Ralph Metcalfe Jr., will be at Franklin Field in Philadelphia on Saturday for a ceremony to honor the '42 XU relay team and the Metcalfe Centennial.

    
photo from Xavier Herald newspaper archives

Xavier's Howard Mitchell beat Pittsburgh's Harold Stickel to the tape to win the 440-yard relay at the 1942 Penn Relays Carnival.

     According to a Penn Relays news release, "The Metcalfe Centennial will be celebrated on Relays Saturday, at 1:25 p.m. (EDT) during the running of the 4x100-meter Relay Championship of America. This stop on the Metcalfe Centennial is sponsored by Joe Cosgrove and Pentec Health, Inc."

 

 
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The Xavier Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets compete in Division I of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) as a member of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). Xavier fields men's and women's teams in basketball, cross country and tennis.

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