Roughly 20 former Palos Verdes High School track and field teammates ventured back to their old literal stomping grounds Thursday afternoon, Feb. 28, for a reunion and a commemoration of their co-captain, Don Hurzeler.
As the current members of the track and field team warmed up to take on El Segundo, the alumni, who graduated between 1962-1965, reminisced about their experience on the team that Hurzeler said, “shaped them as men.”
“It was life-changing and so meaningful,” he said. “And it’s kept us all in contact for half a century. There’s people here who traveled from Texas, Utah, Northern California. We got a group of people who 50-56 years on are still supporting P.V.”
The metal plaque attached to the Wall of Fame along the track field outlines his success.
Hurzeler ran the hurdles and placed first in both the 180-yard lows and the 120-yard highs in the Bay League Championship. He also became the first Palos Verdes High School athlete to place in the California State Track and Field meet. He earned fourth with a time of 18.7 seconds. And in 1965 he earned the Daily Breeze All Area Track and Field Athlete of the year.
And in the CIF Southern section track and field finals Hurzeler placed third in the 180-yard low hurdles with a time of 19.3 seconds.
He and his teammates said have always been eager to give back to the next generation. They use their past experiences to teach their children and grandchildren about success and failure – on and off the field.
“It taught me discipline, (and) a little courage sometimes,” said Jack Hongola who now lives in Mission Viejo. “Whatever you put into it (get) out of it.”
Chris Brady, who traveled from Buffalo, New York, encourages today’s athletes to take control of their own lives.
“You’re in control of your own destiny,” he said. “Oh, and do one more of everything your coach tells you to do.”
The elders’ tips resonated with the track and field team members waiting to compete.
“It (track) gives me a drive to do better,” said Matt Sala, 18, who’s in his second year competing shot put and placed first in the South Bay Championship last year. “Do what you’ve been taught and see where it takes you.”
“I would like to maybe go to the Olympics, it’s an option,” he added. “If it brings me there I’d be happy. It’s a process it’s just going to take some time.”
Members of the ‘62-’65 teams have tried to meet up once a year for the past nine years and will continue to do so.
“Every memory I have connected to track and field, every single one – and it’s not an exaggeration – is a positive one,” said Todd Bershad to the audience before introducing Hurzeler.
“And one day we were looking at the wall and said, ‘Where is Don’s plaque?’ Well, here it is and it’s well-deserved.”