Camp Randall 100: Jesse Owens

Camp Randall 100: Jesse Owens
Camp Randall 100: Jesse Owens

The Camp Randall 100 honors a prestigious group of 100 people who shaped the first century of Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin Athletics will reveal a new honoree every day from May 24 until the Badgers’ 2017 opening game on Sept. 1 against Utah State.


Jesse Owens 1935
Jesse Owens 1935

Jesse Owens first burst onto the national scene at the on May 25, 1935 in Ann Arbor, Michigan when he set four world records in a matter of 42 minutes, winning Big Ten Conference titles in the 100-yard dash, 220-yard sprint, 220-yard low hurdles and broad jump.

Almost a year later Owens and his Ohio State teammates competed in a track meet at Camp Randall Stadium (May 16, 1936). Both teams were undefeated in dual meet action. “The clash was the biggest crowd attraction of any track meet ever held in Camp Randall,” according to the 1937 issue of the Badger Yearbook. An estimated crowd of 6,000 fans watched the meet in the stadium.

The Badgers were led that season by Chuck Fenske in the mile and Albert Haller in the pole vault. The duo had qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in their respective events. But it was Owens, the Ohio State junior, who was the star of the meet and would soon grab the international spotlight.

Owens won all four events he entered that day. At 3:20 p.m., he broke the world’s record in the 100-yard dash, running 9.3 seconds, and also set a mark in the 220-yard dash, winning in 21.3, at 3:50 p.m. Neither record would count due to a strong aiding wind.

Owens wasn’t done competing on the day though. At 3:30 p.m., he started competing in the broad (long) jump, which he won with a leap of 25 feet, 7 7/8 inches. Owens wrapped up his four-win day at 4:15 p.m. by claiming the 220-yard low hurdles in 23.6.

The Buckeye would score 20 points on the day but it wasn’t enough for Ohio State as Wisconsin won the meet by more than six points, 66 2/3 to 59 1/3.

For the Badgers, Haller won the pole vault at 14-4, establishing a new Camp Randall record. Fenske claimed event titles in the mile and two-mile runs while Irv Rubow won the shot put and discus throw. Other UW event winners were Bert Schlanger and Herb Steuwe.

Less than three months after his visit to Madison, Owens made history at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. He won four gold medals (100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 4×100-meter relay and the long jump), setting three world records.

Jesse Owens