college track star
Wes Santee was born in Ashland,
1932. Growing up on a farm, Santee was subject to
his father's often violent temper and frequently
found himself the object of his father's wrath.
Although the mistreatment may have inspired his
passion for running, Santee never dwelt upon his
growing up years as an adult.
Although his father had little
use for education, he did not prevent Wes from
attending the local schools, where he came to the
attention of the local track coach. Once he had
completed his preparatory education Santee's
track coach secured him a place on the University
of Kansas track and field team, where he would
become a global sensation.
Like many middle-distance
runners of his day, Santee dreamed of breaking
the four-minute barrier for the mile run.
Although he never succeeded in that dream, his
ability to run in multiple events did help the
University of Kansas win numerous track meets.
For example, in one meet against California, he
won the 880-yard dash in 1:51.5, the mile in
4:05.5 and ran a 48.0 440-yard relay leg. During
his career at KU he set the world indoor record
in the mile twice (4:04.9 in 1954 and 4:03.8 in
1955) and the 1,500-meter once (3:48.3 in 1955),
set the outdoor 1,500-meter record at the 1956
Compton Invitational (3:42.8), and was an NCAA
champion in cross country (1953), the 1,500-meter
(1952, 1953 and 1955), the mile (1953), and the
In 1952, Santee represented the
United States in the 5,000-meter at the Olympic
Games in Helsinki.
Santee was inducted into the
National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2005. He
died of cancer in Eureka, Kansas, on November 14,
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