SEATTLE – The Penn Relays, one of the most storied track and field events in the world, will make a permanent spot on its Wall of Honor for Husky legend Brian Sternberg, it was announced today. Sternberg set the World Record in the pole vault on three occasions, the first of which came at the 1963 Penn Relays.
A 1961 graduate of Seattle’s Shoreline High School, Sternberg won the 1963 NCAA pole vault title and broke the world record in the event on three occasions, the last a 16-foot, eight-inch clearance at the Compton (Calif.) Relays in June of that year. Just a sophomore, Sternberg was named to the United States’ team for the annual U.S.-Russia dual meet later that summer, but saw his career cut short by a trampoline accident on July 2 that left him paralyzed below the neck.
Sternberg came to Philadelphia for the 1963 Penn Relays and set a pair of meet records. His clearance of 16-1 won the competition, but his 16-5 established a World Record. His Penn Relays record lasted until 1971.
The Wall of Fame at the Penn Relays was begun in 1994 at the time of the 100th running. The class of 2013, the 20th group of inductees, brings the number of individuals selected to 95, with 85 relay teams having been chosen. Four individuals and four relay teams were selected by a panel of Penn Relays experts. The sole restriction in the nomination process is that only retired athletes (or those now competing as masters) may be nominated, and inductees are honored solely for their accomplishments at the Penn Relays.
Also inducted in addition to Sternberg are distance runner Michelle Bennett, jumper DeHart Hubbard, and distance runner Alberto Salazar and four relay squads from throughout the meet’s history.
Sternberg, 69, was inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame in 1983, and is also a member of the Washington Sports Hall of Fame, and the North American Pole Vault Association Hall of Fame, and was the North American recipient of the 1963 Helms World Trophy, awarded to the top athlete on each of the six major continents.