Joining retired Manchester High coaches Tom Kelly and Pete Wigren as inductees into the Manchester Sports Hall of Fame in
September will be one-time United States Olympic runner Pete Close. He is the selection for 1981.
Close, 43, currently track coach at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., got his start in the world of track under the coaching eye of Wigren at Manchester High.
The second annual induction dinner will be held Friday night, September 18 at the Army & Navy Club in Manchester.
The former Manchester man compiled a great record in both track and cross country while in high school and later at St. John’s University in Brooklyn, N.Y., and later with New York A.C.
Close was selected to the All-American college cross country teams in 1958 and 1959 and in the latter season was also named the Metropolitan New York Track Athlete of the Year.
The current Bay State resident captured the coveted IC4A mile championships in both 1958 and 1959 and competed in the 1,500 meter run in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Italy.
While at St. John’s, Close was also selected on the 1959 All-American track team and was named St. John’s University’s No. 1 athlete in both his junior and senior years.
During his senior year, Close went undefeated in eight college cross country meets.
Among his many thrills in track was coming home to Manchester and winning the Five Mile Road Race in 1958.
One of his goals was to run a four-minute mile but he missed by just several seconds.
Following a poor showing in the mile in 1962, Close decided to hang up his spikes.
His competitive career lasted a full decade. He was ninth in his Olympic run.
A year ago, Close was named the Division III Track Coach-of-the-Year in New England when he guided Tufts to a perfect 11-0 track recording only his second season at the helm.
Previously, Close was sports information director at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1962 thru 1976.
Performing as a “rabbit” – pace setter – in many mile meets, Close was in against some pretty tough competition which included Ireland’s Ron Delaney, Olympic gold medalist, and Jim Beatty of the United States.
Close served with the Marines from 1959 until 1962 and his travels took him all over the world in track competition while preparing for the Olympic Games.
At MIT, Close was active in track, coaching varsity cross country for five seasons and handling physical education classes. He also assisted in coaching track.
How does Close feel about his current position?
“There’s something special about Tufts. It’s a small college and I’m part of the family. We get the sound student-athlete. And I’m having a ball,” he answered.
Previous Hall of Fame inductees were Matt Moriarty Sr., Tony Lupien, Joe McCluskey, Jerry Fay, Cathy Dyak, Leo Katkaveck, Ty Holland and Moe Morhardt.
Pete Close passed away in 1990 at the age of 52. He was a wonderful and warm person.
Reproduced 2011 from www.mhs1955.com with permission of its webmaster Dick Jenkins.
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