Inducted – 2004
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. 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. Inducted National Track & Field Hall of Fame, 2005. KU Athletic Hall of Fame. KU Relays Hall of Fame. Born March 25, 1932 – Ashland, Kansas. Graduated Ashland High School, 1950; University of Kansas, 1954.