Harold Manning Born: January 9, 1909 (Sedgwick, KS)
Graduated: Sedgwick High School, 1927; University of Wichita (Wichita State University), 1931
Died: January 26, 2003
History always remembers “firsts.” From the first President to the first man to walk on the moon, history reserves a special place for those who have the strength and determination to blaze new trails.
Today, Harold Manning gets his name enshrined into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame as the first to bring a national championship to what we know today as Wichita State University.
Manning, known as a “wiry” and “skinny kid” who barely tipped over the one hundred pound mark in high school, grew up in the small-town of Sedgwick, Kansas. Yet, despite his modest upbringing, that same skinny kid would bring home Wichita University’s first national championship in track and field and would go on to compete in the Olympics.
Growing up, Manning wasn’t the least bit concerned with the sport that would make him a legend. Actually, it was an entry into a track meet in Wichita, at the urging of a high school coach, just weeks before he graduated from high school in 1927 that launched Manning’s stellar career.
Manning finished first in the mile at the Wichita meet and went on to win the mile in the state high school meet the following week. Sedgwick businessmen raised funds to send him to the national high school meet in Chicago where he once again proved victorious.
Manning’s exploits weeks before graduation were good enough to earn him a scholarship to Wichita University where he set the standard for distance runners. Manning brought home the 1930 national championship in the two-mile with a record time of 9:18.1.
His victory made him not only the University’s first national champion, but also the University’s first All-American in track and field.
Upon his graduation from Wichita, Manning continued to run and train on his own, often carrying his own stop watch on his runs, for a chance at the Olympics. He narrowly missed participating in the 1932 Los Angeles games alongside fellow Kansas Sports Hall of Famer Jim Bausch, but continued to work hard and earned a spot on the team for the 1936 games.
That year, Manning made history in his attempt to make the U.S. Olympic team that included Jesse Owens and Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductees Archie San Romani and Glenn Cunningham. Participating in the relatively new event, the 3000 meter steeplechase, Manning set the world record at the U.S. Olympic trials with a time of 9:08.2 using his unique style of hurdling of the barrier and jumping right in the middle of the water pit.
Despite his fifth place finish at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, today Manning is remembered as one of the pioneers of the sport and a legend at Wichita State University for being the school’s first national champion.
Harold Manning passed away in January of 2003. He is inducted posthumously.