Bill Meanix

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Bill Meanix
Bill Meanix 1920.jpg
Bill Meanix in 1920
Personal information
BornJanuary 18, 1892
DiedOctober 13, 1957 (aged 65)
ClubBoston Athletic Association
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)110 mH – 16.0 (1914)
400 mH – 54.3 (1915)[1]

William Henry "Bill" Meanix (January 18, 1892 – October 13, 1957) was an American track and field athlete. He held the world record in the 440 yd hurdles from 1915 to 1920, and he won the event the first two times it was contested at the United States championships.


Meanix became a track athlete at the English High School in Boston, Massachusetts.[2] He subsequently studied at Colby College and Harvard.[2] At first, he did not specialize in any one event, but competed in the sprints, hurdles and the shot put.[3]

Representing the Boston A. A., Meanix won the 440 yd (402 m) hurdles at the 1914 United States championships, becoming the inaugural champion;[4] while the championships had been held since 1876, this was the first time the 440 yd hurdles had been contested.[4][5] His winning time of 57.8 seconds was a new American record,[6] although Charles Bacon had run the slightly shorter 400 m hurdles in 55.0, equivalent to 55.3–55.4 for the imperial distance;[7] the world record for the imperial hurdles was 56.8, held by Britain's G. R. L. Anderson.[4][6]

On July 16, 1915 Meanix ran the 440 yd hurdles in 54.6 at Cambridge, Massachusetts, improving Anderson's world record by more than two seconds and also breaking Bacon's time.[6] He set his record in the same meet where Norman Taber surpassed Walter George's mile world record from 1886.[6] This time would remain Meanix's best, and stood as a world record until John Norton ran 54.2 in 1920.[8][9][note 1] Meanix won the 1915 national championship in an even faster time, 52.6, but that race was held on a straight track and was wind-aided, making the time statistically invalid.[5][13] His most serious rival in that race was August Muenter, who had earlier run 53.6 in similar conditions, but he fell at the ninth hurdle while trailing Meanix.[13][14][15]

In 1916 Meanix was challenged as the leading American by Walter Hummel, who defeated him by two yards at the national championships in the meeting record time of 54.8.[5][16][17] The following week Meanix beat him in a rematch, running 55.0,[7][18] but Hummel was still selected for the AAU's top All-American team of the year.[19] At the 1917 Penn Relays Meanix was defeated by another newcomer, Floyd Smart, in 55.2;[20] the Harvard Crimson felt the use of 2 ft 6 in (76.2 cm) hurdles, instead of the usual 3 ft (91 cm) hurdles, had favored Smart,[21] but he beat Meanix again at the national championships, where regular hurdles were used. Meanix took second, ahead of Hummel.[5][22]

With America entering World War I, Meanix enlisted in the United States Army in November 1917.[23][24] He was discharged as a 1st Lieutenant in May 1919[24] and resumed hurdling, taking second behind Smart at the 1919 national championships.[25][26] Meanix competed in the 1920 United States Olympic Trials, but was eliminated in the semi-finals and failed to qualify for the Olympic team;[27] instead, he (and Smart, who had also failed to qualify) represented the United States in post-Olympic meets against teams from France, Sweden and the British Empire.[28][29]

In 1923 Meanix was appointed as Tufts College's track and field coach.[2] He later returned to his former high school, the English High School, and had a long career there as a military drill instructor.[30] During World War II Meanix returned to active Army service, now with the rank of major,[31] and commanded an Army Specialized Training Unit at Northwestern University.[30][32] He retired from the Army in 1946 as a lieutenant colonel.[33]


Meanix was inducted in the English High School's Hall of Fame in 1987.[34]


  1. ^ Meanix's world record of 54.6 was never officially ratified by the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), which was based in Europe and unable to act during World War I.[10] By the time the IAAF started ratifying records again in 1921, Meanix's record had been superseded by Norton's.[11] Meanix's time was, however, statistically valid and considered the de facto world record until Norton broke it,[8] and the American AAU recommended it for official approval.[12]


  1. ^ William Meanix.
  2. ^ a b c "Bill Meanix, Former Colby Star, Elected Track Coach at Tufts". Lewiston Daily Sun. November 15, 1923. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  3. ^ "Meanix Star of Dual Meet". Boston Post. March 12, 1911. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Senior Honors To Irish Team". Chicago Daily Tribune. September 13, 1914. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d Mallon, Bill; Buchanan, Ian; Track & Field News. "A History Of The Results Of The National Track & Field Championships Of The USA From 1876 Through 2011". Track & Field News. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d "Taber Sets World Mark For a Mile" (PDF). July 17, 1915. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Jukola, Martti (1935). Huippu-urheilun historia (in Finnish). Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö.
  8. ^ a b "Smash Records at Pasadena". Ogden Standard-Examiner. June 27, 1920. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  9. ^ "Hurdle Record Is Smashed By Norton". The Stanford Daily. July 2, 1920. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  10. ^ "A. A. U. Adopts Amateur Code". Boston Daily Globe. November 21, 1916. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  11. ^ "I. A. A. F. Accepts American Records" (PDF). New York Times. May 30, 1921. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  12. ^ "Wants Foreign Recognition For U.S. Track Marks". Harrisburg Evening News. May 13, 1921. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Worthington and Meanix Win". The Boston Globe. August 8, 1915. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  14. ^ "Live Tips and Topics". The Boston Globe. August 5, 1915. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  15. ^ "Sporting". Galveston Daily News. January 1, 1916. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  16. ^ "Halpin Beats "Ted" Meredith". The Boston Globe. September 10, 1916. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  17. ^ "Bronder Breaks American Record in Javelin Throw" (PDF). Brooklyn Daily Eagle. September 10, 1916. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  18. ^ "Brundage Holds All-Round Title". The Boston Globe. September 17, 1916. p. 15. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  19. ^ "All-American Field And Track Team Is Selected". Cornell Daily Sun. January 2, 1917. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  20. ^ "Berry Victor in Pentathlon". The Boston Globe. April 28, 1917. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  21. ^ "Blanchard Ties For First Place In Weight Throw". The Harvard Crimson. April 28, 1917. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  22. ^ "B.A.A. Third in Senior Events". The Boston Globe. September 2, 1917. p. 13. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  23. ^ "Another Athlete In Army". The Washington Post. September 14, 1917. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  24. ^ a b Mead, Frederick S. (ed). Harvard's Military Record in the World War. Harvard Alumni Association. p. 650.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  25. ^ "Ray Smashes A.A.U. Record In The Mile". The Boston Globe. September 14, 1919. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  26. ^ "Joie Ray Sets New A.A.U. Championship Record For One Mile Run" (PDF). The New York Times. September 14, 1919. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  27. ^ Hymans, Richard. "The History of the United States Olympic Trials – Track & Field". USA Track & Field; Track & Field News. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 3, 2016. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  28. ^ "Kirksey Ties Mark In 200-Meter Dash" (PDF). The New York Times. August 30, 1920. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  29. ^ "U. S. Athletes Tie in Meet With Britons". New York Tribune. September 5, 1920. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  30. ^ a b "Commanding Officer". Fitchburg Sentinel. October 26, 1943. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  31. ^ "English High School – Record Yearbook 1943". The English High School Record. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  32. ^ "News of Our Men and Women in Uniform". The Bath Independent. January 13, 1944. p. 7. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  33. ^ "U.S. Army Register Volume II: Army of the United States and Other Retired Lists". U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 371.
  34. ^ "The English High School Hall of Fame". English High School. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
Preceded by
United Kingdom G. R. L. Anderson
Men's 440 yd Hurdles World Record Holder
July 16, 1915 – June 26, 1920
Succeeded by
United States John Norton