Coach: Meet Glenbrook South's longest standing record holder, and the track champion who broke it
There are some records that stand the test of time and, in doing so, become legendary in sports lore.
Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, Wilt Chamberlain's 50 points per game average for a season, Bob Beamon's incredible long jump in the 1968 Olympics, and maybe Joey Chestnut's hot dog eating record (not sure what it is, I stopped watching at about 42).
These are records that have lasted for decades and may never be broken. There aren't too many of those kinds of records anymore because today's athletes are so much bigger, stronger, quicker, better-trained, and they start at much younger ages. Most of the old-time records have long since been shattered by today's modern athletes.
Locally, we can add one more to the list of longtime record holders: Glenbrook South Class of '67 grad Terry Webb. His outdoor high jump of 6-6½ stood for an are-you-ready-for-this 56 years! That's right, for well over five decades Webb's name sat untouched, unblemished on the iconic track and field record board inside the GBS field house.
But all good things must come to end and, spoiler alert: Titan track superstar Ryan Schaefer finally toppled the record at this year's Titan invite.
We will get to Schaefer later, but the man of the hour (or at least this story) is Webb. The 74-year-old Webb, still in good shape, made an appearance recently at the GBS parking lot outside John Davis Stadium to meet the young kid who finally beat his record.
Did he have any idea his record would stand so long?
"Wasn't even aware that it hadn't been broken," said Webb. "I kind of stopped following it and didn't really connect back with the school until the 50th reunion a few years back, when I came and toured the school and saw the beautiful new field house they have now."
I had to gently remind Webb the "beautiful new field house" he speaks of is actually well into being three decades old, but why ruin a good story?
More importantly, his record is still up on the Titan record board. It stands out amid all the other current records; there's 2022, 2020, 2018, 2015, and even a 1990 in there. And then sticking out like the best of sore thumbs is that one record still hanging and holding on from 1967!
"I found out the record was finally broken when one of my classmates from back then who lives in Glenview called me up and told me he saw it in the paper. I was surprised it lasted that long."
Webb set that record back when training and teaching of sports was significantly more archaic.
"Oh, ya, back then we didn't have any of the stuff today's athletes have. There was no weight room for the most part, no field house to practice in, and our coach was more a football coach who just did track on the side and really didn't know that much about track and field.
"The worst part was we really didn't have a practice jumping area, so we had to use the spot where the drivers ed cars were parked, and the landing surface was basically just one bag of upholstery foam. There were some painful mislandings I can tell you that," laughs Webb.
Webb went on to compete at the University of Illinois on a track scholarship and had a successful career there, including qualifying for the NCAA nationals, which back then were held in Nashville.
He spent nearly a decade post-college traveling around the country -- "kind of a wayward son," recalls Webb, "and finally I had to be kind of rescued from myself," he laughs, before settling down and raising his family in Libertyville while working at the Board of Trade downtown.
So how did the record go down?
You can blame Titan star Ryan Schaefer for that. He finally reached that elusive 6-7 jump (officially 2.01m, 6-7¼) at the Titan invite this spring.
Schaefer was about as oblivious to the longtime record as Webb himself was.
"I wasn't really that locked into going for the high jump record," said Schaefer, who just for kicks was also this year's state champion in the 300-meter hurdles.
"(The record) was not something that had been emphasized," he said. "The coaches definitely did not bring it up much during the season, and when I was getting close that day of the Titan invite, they purposely didn't want to put any more pressure on me.
"I really wasn't fully aware I broke the record until we had our post-meet meeting on the track when Coach Hasenstein announced it to the entire team. Then it started to sink in."
Kurt Hasenstein, the 33-year veteran Titan track coach, recalls: "I was watching from afar, and I knew he had a chance to break the record when he cleared a couple of the previous heights, but I didn't want to go over to the pit and put any more pressure on him. Coach Nally was there (assistant coach and longtime Illinois track legend John Nally), so I just stood from a distance and watched and enjoyed it."
I asked Coach Haz how the record could possibly stand for so long?
"Well, you can blame AAU basketball and boys volleyball for that," he said. "So many of the tall kids that are really good athletes who would make great high jumpers play those two sports."
"We had some kids come close," Haz said. "George Heckenbach back in 1991 went 6-6 as a sophomore. He would have surely beat the record, but he switched to boys volleyball when that sport just began. Kerry Stringer jumped 6-5, Ryan Hindes 6-6, and 1995 grad Mike Kapity also went 6-6."
But none could catch Webb and his 6-6½ jump. That is until Schaefer finally did it.
Ryan, whose mom, Julie, was a track star at South and coached with the program for a few years, will be continuing his track career in college at Eastern Illinois University.
I was glad we were able to get the two of them together, Webb getting to meet his 50-plus-years younger record breaker, and they enjoyed talking.
The Class of '67 grad at one point tried to show us all how he used the old "straddle technique" to set his long-standing record, but Webb may have gotten a little too demonstrative; he almost pulled a hamstring and strained his calf.
We figured at that point, we would just take his word for it.
• Jon Cohn of Glenview is a coach, retired PE teacher, sports official and prep sports fan. To contact him with comments or story ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org.