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Jack Greenwald sweeps sprints at USATF National Masters

BEREA — Things clicked like 1-2-3 for Seville’s Jack Greenwald at Sunday’s 43rd annual USATF National Masters Track and Field Championships.

The 83-year-old swept his events when he won his third gold medal of the four-day meet with a victory in the men’s 80-84 age group 200-meter dash in 35.59.

“I wanted to do it under 36 flat,” said Greenwald. “The 200 has always been favorite race if I don’t screw up and cross into the other lane.

“Some of the other guys were kidding me about one national meet. It was held at a nine-lane track. I was assigned lane No. 8, but they disqualified me because I lined up in lane nine, which happened to be empty.”

Greenwald added to wins in the 100 (16.42) on Saturday and the 400 (1:35.66) on Thursday.

Greenwald ran track in high school for Canton Lehman, but didn’t race again until 1987. He won a silver medal in the 400 meters at age 57 at his first Senior Olympics in St. Louis. Greenwald’s been a speedster ever since.

“I joined a local swim club when I was in my 50s,” he said. “One of the members who thought I swam well suggested I try the Senior Olympics.”

That launched his track career.

Greenwald defeated North Bend’s Richard Soller, 84, (48.19) for Sunday’s 200-meter crown. Just like his other races, Greenwald’s block-start buried the field.

Some corrections to his form over the past six years have made a huge difference.

“The way I used to run you couldn’t describe my form,” said Greenwald, who stands 5-foot-4 and weighs 135 pounds. “I used to run fairly upright. Chuck Sochor (from Lincoln Lake, Mich.) taught me how to run better with that nice forward lean. It took me two years to develop it.

“Where I work out at the Cloverleaf Rec Center I owe a lot also. There’s been exceptional athletes that have helped me along the way.”

Greenwald had just a few health issues. He overcame a triple heart bypass in 2004 and occasionally battles double-vision. His wife of 48 years, Linda, who died the same year.

But overall, life remains enjoyable and fun for Greenwald. His track career has a lot to do with it, but he’s enjoyed many other things, too.

Although he has never owned an aircraft, Greenwald had a pilot’s license at one time.

“The most exciting thing I did to my own self was to fly upside down over Geauga Lake back in the 1980s,” Greenwald said. “It was a thrill and still is a thrill.”

Medina’s Richard Bechtel, 47, finished seventh in the men’s 45-49 5,000 meters on Thursday in 17:46.77. Francis Burdett, 46, of Worchester, MA, won the event in 15:55.06.

Contact Paul Heyse at (440) 329-7135 or

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