Frank Wykoff

Athlete
Class of 1928

Frank Wykoff

When you’re a dashman as fast in high school and college as Frank Wykoff was, you dream of that individual Olympic gold in the 100 and/or 200 – or at the least, getting on the podium. The “Glendale Greyhound” couldn’t quite do that, twice finishing 4th in both the 1928 and 1936 Olympic 100m finals. But Wykoff is remembered, in part, because he achieved two things that no one else has done to this day: Winning an Olympic Trials 100 as a high schooler and becoming the only man to win three Olympic relay gold medals – all with world-record performances.

Wykoff was born in 1909 in Des Moines, Iowa, but before he started high school, his family would move to Glendale, California, outside of Los Angeles. Blessed to train under Coach Norman Hayhurst, Wykoff started on his path to becoming American’s next great sprinter/jumper. As a sophomore in 1926, he was 3rd in the state meet 100y at 10.0. The following year, he rose to a top national-class level, equaling the national lead in the century at 9.8, running 21.0 for 220y, long-jumping 22-2 and winning all three events at state. On top of that, he captured the AAU Junior 100.

Then in the Olympic year of 1928, Wykoff not only smashed prep records, but became an Olympic threat. His 9.5 100y and 20.8 220y standards would each last five years (until Jesse Owens came along), and he long-jumped 23-1 to boot. He did suffer rather shocking upset losses at state, but more than made up for it at the Olympic Trials: The Glendale senior stunned 1920 double gold medalist Charlie Paddock in both dashes.

As mentioned, Wykoff was 4th in the Amsterdam 100m final, but led off the Team USA WR 4x100 effort (41.0) to earn his first gold. His 100m PR of 10.6 helped him rank #3 in the world and was #2 all-time HS.

To have 1 more year training with Coach Hayhurst, Wykoff enrolled at Glendale CC after high school, and overcame a life-threatening throat infection that fall to have a successful spring in ’29. He then transferred to USC to run for Dean Cromwell. Much NCAA and AAU success followed, including Wykoff adding to his stellar relays rep with an anchor for USC’s record-setting (40.8) 1931 squad.

The “Anchor Man” didn’t make the 1932 Team USA squad individually, but finished off the 40.0 WR champs in L.A. Then as the sprint corps’ “old man” in 1936, he completed the 39.8 performance that gave Owens his historic third gold. After his track career, Wykoff worked many years in the L.A. school system before passing away in 1980 at age 70.

Did You Know?

Frank Wykoff ran on three world-record-setting 4×100 teams over 13 years, anchoring three of them.