Greg Hansen: Harvey, UA track clear big hurdles

2013-03-12T00:00:00Z Greg Hansen: Harvey, UA track clear big hurdlesGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 12, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The truth, the whole truth, half-truths, shades of the truth and other items admissible as madness, March division:

Item I: One of the lasting touches, a daily legacy, of the Jim Livengood years, was the creation of National Championship Drive between Arizona Stadium and McKale Center.

Livengood put on permanent display a banner for each of the school's NCAA championships. You can't miss 'em, even if the sun's in your eyes.

On his daily commute to McKale Center, Fred Harvey must sometimes picture the day a banner flies for the UA track and field/cross country program. Can he get much closer?

Over the weekend in Fayetteville, Ark., Harvey's indoor track teams finished No. 6 in the men's finals and No. 7 in the women's competition. Harvey's teams have now finished in the top 10 - indoor and outdoor, men and women - six times dating to 2011. In recent years, only the UA's swimming program has been more consistently formidable nationally.

"Arkansas and Oregon are the only schools that could match our top 10 indoor finishes this year," Harvey said. "It's a limited group; we've been able to be part of it for several years. We're right there."

At a school with limited resources for track and field, Harvey has almost no margin for error. The budget and facilities advantages at rivals Oregon and Stanford, and the inherent recruiting edges at UCLA and USC, make it almost impossible for Arizona to be a national contender.

It is anyway.

"I'm not going to be the guy who sits and complains about what others have and what we don't' have," says Harvey. "I really believe our women's team can finish in the top three at the NCAA outdoor finals this year. Our men's team could really be something special next year."

Outside of UA swimming, the school's three most prominent athletes are probably hurdler Georganne Moline, high jumper Brigetta Barrett and distance runner Lawi Lalang.

"We can't afford to make a recruiting mistake," says Harvey. "We've almost got to be fortune-tellers and get it right."

Item II: If Tucson City Golf is making any attempt to salvage critically ill Fred Enke Golf Course, it hasn't become manifest.

I belong to a local golf group, about 40 strong, that has twice canceled recent weekend rounds at Fred Enke because it is, shall we say, not exactly up to Augusta National standards. At winter weekend rates, that's a failure to realize about $2,000 in revenue.

If you still care, Wednesday will be one of the last times to make known your feelings about the only true public golf course on Tucson's east side. A public meeting will be held at 6 p.m., at the Clements Recreation Center on Pima College's east campus.

I strongly suspect that the politicians who would carve up Fred Enke and make it a little-used public park, long ago determined sacrificing the golf course would make it look like they are taking a stand to better the community's financial welfare.

You know what would help more, at Fred Enke and TCG's other muni golf courses? More efficient management.

Between 6 and 7 Sunday morning at the Randolph Golf Complex, about 150 unhappy golfers showed up for early tee-times to discover that TCG had scheduled just one person to run the clubhouse cash register during the week's busiest check-in time.

Some golfers missed their scheduled tee time because it took more than 20 minutes to get through the line. It was like Black Friday at Best Buy - except the Christmas spirit was long gone.

And so, too, after Wednesday's too-little, too-late dialogue, will be Fred Enke Golf Course.

Item III:

When Carl Thomas signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians in 1956, he left the UA campus as the most dominating pitcher in school history. And you could make a case, 57 years later, that he still is.

His 422 career strikeouts are among the most unassailable records at Arizona.

But there's much more to Thomas than his legacy as a three-time College World Series pitching star, a man who pitched back-to-back 1955 no-hitters against UCLA and ASU.

Thomas, at 6 feet 5 inches and about 245 pounds, had a chance to play varsity football, baseball and basketball at Arizona.

"Carl came to Tucson on a baseball scholarship, but he had played basketball at Santa Ana Junior College in California, and he was a high school football star in Minneapolis," his widow, Eunice Taylor, said Monday.

"The UA gave him a job hashing for the football team at the stadium dormitory. Well, he got tired of doing it and said, 'If I play football, I won't have to feed them anymore, they'll feed me.' So he did.

"After the football season, (ex-UA basketball coach) Fred Enke told Carl he wanted him to play basketball. Carl planned to, but at the last minute he said, 'I want to go home for Christmas.' Coach Enke wouldn't let him, so he stuck to baseball."

Thomas, 80, who died of Parkinson's disease last week in Scottsdale, lived most of his adult life in the greater Phoenix area and become close friends, and regular handball partners and fishing buddies, with ASU Hall of Fame coaches Bobby Winkles, Frank Kush and Baldy Castillo.

"Carl had a lot of respect for the Sun Devils, but he loved the Wildcats," Eunice said. "That's where his heart was."

Thomas will be buried in Eunice's family cemetery plot near the Chiricahua Mountains and Douglas. A celebration of his life will be held April 6 at 2 p.m., at the Mount Claret Conference Center in Phoenix.

Contact Greg Hansen at 573-4362 or ghansen@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @ghansen711.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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