Is anyone All-American in more events than M75 Roger Vergin?

Florida Senior Games medal haul in 2012.

Florida Senior Games medal haul in 2012.

Four years ago this week, I featured a story about Roger Vergin’s discovery of masters track. On Tuesday, he graciously reported his progress, writing me about his national titles. “In 2013, I won all four multi-event championships — indoor pentathlon, outdoor pentathlon, heptathlon and decathlon,” says M75 Roger. “Also: USATF indoors: 200 meter dash; USATF Outdoors: long jump, triple jump; National Senior Games: long jump, triple jump, pole vault.” But what really dropped my jaw was his self-referencing question: “Is All American ranking in 25 different events some kind of a record?” The folks at National Masters News who run the A-A show didn’t have an answer. But I’m not aware of anyone doing the double dozen (plus one). (Lydia Woods had a similar goal — to be ranked in all events. She had 22 in 2008.) While you puzzle through that query, check out an essay he wrote.

Roger, shown running the 800 at  a recent Florida Senior Games, had a 2013 best of 3:28.51, which met A-A standard for M75

Roger, shown running the 800 at a recent Florida Senior Games, had a 2013 best of 3:28.51, which met A-A standard for M75 of 3:35.

Roger Vergin writes:

I discovered the exciting world of masters track & field at the age of seventy. My previous experience at the sport was as a high school sophomore when I did not impress the coach sufficiently to be invited to compete at a single meet.

As a septuagenarian, once I learned the rules, got past the assorted strains and pulled muscles of a newcomer, and realized it helped to wear spikes, I began to win an event here and there.

By my fifth meet, I actually hit the USATF All-American standard in the triple jump. Given my experience on the high school track team, it was a valued accomplishment.

I found and was amazed by the outstanding abilities of athletes in my age group like Hall of Famers Bob Lida, Emil Pawlick, Bob Hewitt, Tom Langenfeld and Ed Burke. With such star performers setting American and World records at times and distances beyond my comprehension at almost every major meet, I realized my chance of ever setting a national record was slim.

From the start, I enjoyed competing in the speed events for which my body seemed suited and the challenge of learning and improving in other events for which a 135-pound asthmatic body did not have a whole lot of physical advantages.

In my second year of competition, I achieved the All American standard in ten events and submitted my application for the certificates to National Masters News. NMN featured me in its All American Spotlight series. From that feature article, a few competitors approached me at meets to congratulate me.

I thought: If I can’t set an American record in any event, perhaps I can surpass what anyone else has accomplished for excellence in all events. So, I attempted to hit the All American standard in as many events in a year as I could.

The year 2013 was first full year in the 75-79 age bracket and I did my best. The March issue of NMN includes the list, which is as follows:

60 meter dash, 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, 400 meter dash, 800 meter run, 1500 meter run, 1 mile run, 80 meter hurdles, 300 meter hurdles, long jump, high jump, triple jump, pole vault, discus, javelin, hammer, super weight, indoor pentathlon, outdoor pentathlon, throws pentathlon, decathlon.

That is All American in 21 track & field events. No standards exist for the heptathlon and the ultra weight throw pentathlon. Were there standards, the total would have likely been 23, since I ranked first nationally in the heptathlon and second in the ultra weight pentathlon.

The All American standards for the 5,000 and 10,000 distance races remain beyond my capability. However, I found that the road racing time standards were somewhat looser. So I ran 5K and 10K road races and met those standards. I added 8K and 4 mile road races and met those standards too. That made four more All American standards for a combined total of 25 All Americans between track & field and road racing.

My inquiry to NMN about the most All American certificates issued to any individual was met with the comment that “they don’t keep records” of All American rankings achieved.

So is this a record? I would like to see what your MastersTrack readers say.

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April 9, 2014

12 Responses

  1. Anonymous - April 9, 2014

    Just to clarify, Lydia Woods was not an All American in 22 events. I believe she was an AA in only one –the long jump.

  2. Ken Stone - April 9, 2014

    Ah, thanks. I misread my own post in bad light. Now fixed.

  3. David E. Ortman (M61), Seattle, WA - April 10, 2014

    Roger is a great motivation to those of us in the Pacific Northwest. No doubt if there were all-world standards he would clean up on those as well. Most astounding is his 2013 multi-event championships — indoor pentathlon, outdoor pentathlon, heptathlon and decathlon. Most of us are just happy to get to and survive one multi-event a year. Great job, Roger!!

  4. Woody Deitrich - April 10, 2014

    If you get a chance to talk to Roger at a meet (not so easy since he keeps busy doing many events), you find he’s a low-key, unassuming guy. But he is a great example of determination and the value of goal setting. The All-American standards are especially useful because they are geared to your current age. They help you shoot for something realistic, rather than your PR from 5 years ago.

  5. Art Turock - April 10, 2014

    Roger has been a motivation for me since I took up masters track at age 56. I’ve been amazed by his newly found athleticism at age 70.

    I think the 25 All-American standards is a creative record and lets keep score from now on.

    With the influence of statistics in all sports, new records are being kept. And # of All-American standards isn’t going to require a math geek to figure out. GO Roger!

  6. Jeff Davison - April 11, 2014

    Maybe Roger would up for a double decathlon.

    Rob D. completed one several years ago and broke the Age WR in the process.

  7. Roger Vergin - April 12, 2014

    I express my thanks to David, Woody, and Art, my combined event colleagues from Seattle, for their kind and generous comments.

    Jeff, your double decathlon suggestion is interesting because I had a strong interest in doing it. There are a couple of reasons: first, for the sheer challenge of it, and second, because it is an event in which a world record would be a reasonable target — for the simple reason that no one over 75 has ever done the double decathlon.

    While I might be able to do an entire decathlon two days in a row, the double is more difficult in that it contains the entirely different dimension of long distance running, because it includes the 3000 meter, 5000 meter, 10000 meter and the 3000 meter steeplechase. One reason I did distance training and ran road races in the past year was to see if I could build the stamina for that portion of the double.

    My conclusion is that it there is sound reason why no one my age has ever done the double. While I would hope to get through the first day, my leg soreness the second day would render doing ten more events beyond my capability.

    As I bemoaned the effect of age on my legs to my wife Rosemary one day, she said, “Well, Roger, you have to remember you’re not 75 any more.”

    Now, there is another event between the decathlon and the double decathlon. It is the fourteen event, two day indoor version called the tetra-decathlon. In fact, the 2014 event is going on today and tomorrow (April 12 – 13) in Helsinki, Finland. Get rid of the 10000 meter, the steeplechase, and four more events and . . . Hmmm . . . who knows?

  8. Bob Sheedy - April 14, 2014

    Roger reminds me of another great Ralph Maxwell.

  9. Jack Wooldridge - November 22, 2014

    I just wonder what these mysterious standards for road racing are. Anybody furnish me a chart? I am 85 now and wonder if I have outlived enough runners to qualify in the 5K 85-90 age group.

  10. Roger Vergin - November 25, 2014

    Jack, go to the National Masters News website and you will find tables of the All American Standards for both road running and track & field.

    For your 85-89 age group, the 5K road running standard is 39:37. By comparison, the track and field standard is a much more difficult 32:30.

    This is a good example, among many, of the inconsistencies in the All American standards along several dimensions.

  11. Jack Wooldridge - November 25, 2014

    Ok Roger. My time Saturday was 36:44 so I am ok with the road running but quite a ways from the track standard. Don’t think I could cut 4 minutes on a short distance like this. There was only 1 competitor so I have gone complacent, usually just finish and take the age group.

  12. Janice Bradley - April 23, 2015

    I’ve observed Roger from a distance and thought I would like to be like him and get to know him. I’m in the same age group as he is and this past year 2014, placed in the Top 10 in the US in ten events with PR’s in five and All American in nine events. Like him, I know I will probably never set a national record but I am always striving for better marks and thank goodness for five year age increments! My best marks from ten years ago are long past.

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