Potter

Tot Holmes remembers P. Stephen Potter as the record-setting athlete he was. 

I want to shine a spotlight on a senior track athlete who earned a single individual medal as high as second place over the final seven meets of the season in his last season in 1962.

He previously broke or tied two of the oldest school records as a junior in the quarter-mile (400 meters) and mile, or the 1600 meter race as it is known now.

With all the well-deserved honors showered on P. Stephen Potter in last week’s issue of the Gothenburg Leader, it occurred to me that perhaps he best showed his remarkable mettle as a person in his final, but losing track season.

He broke the interclass meet records in the 440 and 880 as a sophomore and anchored the school-record 2-mile relay. As a junior, he anchored the mile relay team that set a new school record in 1962 as the Swedes overwhelmed the field to run away with the state title.

After the regular season, he won the 440 and 880 in the big AAU meet held in Cozad. His 51.6 in the quarter-mile tied him with Gene Ostergard (1928) and Dave Jones (1953) at the top of the all-time GHS list. And then he spread-eagled a tough field in the 880 and clocked in with a 2:01.1 (2:00.4 in meters), passing Dutch Welch’s record 2:02.9.

In 1963, his senior year got off to a rousing start when he won the 100, 220, 440, 880 and mile in the annual interclass meet.

He won the 220 and 440 in the opening meet of the season and won the 220 in the Cozad-North Platte triangular the following week. But in the 440, he injured tendons in his foot when he stepped on the curb on the final curve in the 440 and finished second.

He would miss the next meet, and then he talked his doctor into injecting his foot before each match to deaden the pain so he could compete. From then on, his best finish came in the Holdrege-Bertrand meet with a second in the 440.

For a top of the line athlete to limp through the final seven meets without complaint to help his team is high school athletics at the highest level.

I didn’t want to miss giving his memory a tip of my cap for his remarkable efforts that have stayed with me and many others over the past decades.