santee wes
Wes Santee
  • At Ashland High School, Santee was a 2-time state champion in the mile run
  • Helped lead KU to the 1953 NCAA Cross Country Team Championship
  • Member of the 1952 Olympic team
Santee, Wes
Inducted  2004

Born: March 25, 1932 – Ashland, Kansas

Died: November 14, 2010 – Eureka, Kansas

Graduated: Ashland High School, 1950; University of Kansas, 1954



One of the world’s great distance runners in the 1950s, Wes Santee of Ashland, Kansas, narrowly missed becoming the first man to run the mile under four minutes.  Roger Bannister of Great Britain accomplished that goal on May 6, 1954, but Santee followed a short time later with a two-week stretch that saw him run the next three fastest miles ever recorded, including a 4:00.5 clocking.

Running Career

Santee was a member of the 1952 Olympic team, an NCAA cross country champion and was named the outstanding athlete at the Drake, Kansas and Texas Relays as a member of the University of Kansas track and field team. Santee was not allowed to run the 1,500 meters (metric mile) in the 1952 Olympics because of an arbitrary decision by the U.S. Olympic Committee, which decided he would run the 5,000 meters instead, even though he was the fastest miler in the world. He tried again to go to the 1956 Olympics with a world record time of 4:00:5 but was not allowed to compete because of a ruling by the Amateur Athletic Union. In 1953 Santee was named the nation’s most outstanding athlete by the Helms Foundation. He twice set the world indoor record in the mile – 4:04.9 in 1954 and 4:03.8 one year later. He helped lead KU to the 1953 NCAA Cross Country Team Championship. A retired colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, Santee was a two-time state champion in the mile run and a state champion cross country runner at Ashland High School.


Santee is inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame 2005, KU Athletic Hall of Fame and the KU Relays Hall of Fame.