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George Fullerton

George Fullerton

Clark College
Class of 2016

George Simmons Fullerton’s career interest in athletics began his junior year at Ashland High in southern Oregon where, at the 1946 state meet, he broke a 34 year old Oregon mark in the mile and took first in the 800 meters. He followed up two weeks later with another record in the mile taking down the interscholastic mark set 12 years earlier by Louis Zamperini in Torrence, Ca.

On June 3, 1946, George Fullerton, then 17 years old and a runner at Ashland High, ran in a mile race at a high school track in Portland, Oregon which included high school and college runners. He finished in 2nd place with a time of 4:20.05, closely behind an elite runner from Oregon State College (University). Fullerton’s time was the unofficial fastest mile ever run by a high school student. And that is just one of the many races that he excelled in. His running performances allowed him many offers of college scholarships and he ended up at Oregon State University.

A foot injury ended Fullerton’s racing career as a freshman at Oregon State University, but he went on to earn a degree in human biology. He joined the Army and helped rebuild infrastructure in Germany, following World War II. He then returned home to teach physical education. Once back in Vancouver, Fullerton was recruited by Hudson Bay to coach football, but instead he landed at Vancouver High with openings in track and wrestling. Successful in the classroom and with the athletes, George was soon offered the head track and field and wrestling coach positions for the Clark College Penguins. Under Fullerton, Clark took three Track and Field Championships between 1960 and 1962 and was runner-up in 1963.

One of Fullerton’s first runners at Clark was Mike Gaechter, a sprinter who also played football at Clark and went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys. Fullerton attributes Gaechter to showing him a technique that he called a hip roll while running. The trick is to rock the pelvis backward—as if pressing the lower spine against the back of a chair. This shift enables runners to lift their legs higher and lengthen their strides. Fullerton coached all of his runners to run naturally around the short, curved parts of the track, and then roll their hips on the straightaway. And it paid off… Clark runners won numerous races.

Many of his students left Clark College to join the venerated track and field team at the University of Oregon, as well as other prestigious running programs.

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