Jess Mortensen

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Jesse "Jess" Philo Mortensen (April 16, 1907 in Thatcher, Arizona – February 19, 1962) was a NCAA champion track athlete and coach. Mortensen is one of only three men to win Division I Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship team titles as both an athlete and coach.


Mortensen was captain of the 1930 NCAA championship track team at the University of Southern California where he was the three-year track letterman in 1928, 1929, and 1930. In addition, he was a letterman in football in 1928 and 1929 and a basketball letterman in 1928, 1929 and 1930, earning All-American honors in 1929 and 1930. He won the 1929 NCAA javelin title and set a world record in the decathlon in 1931, earned All-Pacific Coast Conference and All-American honors in basketball in 1930 (MVP), and was a member of the 1928 national championship USC football team and played in the 1930 Rose Bowl.

After a 14-year coaching stint at Riverside Community College, he returned to become coach of the USC track and field team in 1951. He led the USC Trojans to 7 NCAA titles in his 11 years as coach (1951–1961). His teams never lost a dual meet (64-0) and never finished worse than second in the conference meet. He was an assistant U.S. men's track coach in the 1956 Olympics. He also served as an assistant football coach at USC from 1951 to 1955. He coached track at the University of Denver and the United States Military Academy.

Mortensen is a member of the University of Southern California Athletic Hall of Fame, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

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Preceded by
Jess Hill
University of Southern California Track Coach
Succeeded by
Jess Hill