Inducted – 1977
A three-time U.S. Olympian and world record holder, James Ronald Ryun of Wichita established himself as one of the greatest middle-distance runners of all-time before he reached his twentieth birthday. As a sophomore at Wichita East High School in 1963, Ryun ran his first race by placing second in the mile run with a time of 4:32.4. It would be the only mile race he would ever lose to another schoolboy. The following year, the 17-year-old junior became the first prepster to break the four-minute barrier when he ran 3:59.0. Ryun went on to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. As a senior at Wichita East, Ryun won his third state mile run title with a time of 3:58.3. Six weeks later, Ryun defeated Olympic champion Peter Snell and set the American mile record in 3:55.3– a world prep mark that stood 36 years. As a freshman at Kansas University, Ryun set his first world record in the 880-yard run with a time of 1:44.9. On July 17, 1966, he ran the mile in 3:51.3, smashing Michael Jazy’s world record by 2.3 seconds. He was named Sportsman of the Year (the youngest ever) by Sports illustrated in 1966 and won the Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete. In 1967, Ryun lowered his mile record to 3:51.1, and added world records in the 1,500 meters–3:33.1, indoor half–mile at 1:48.3 and anchored KU’s sprint medley relay team to a world record of 3:15.2. He finished second in the 1,500 at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 and failed to reach the finals in Munich in 1972 when he was tripped. Inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame; National High School Hall of Fame. Born April 29, 1947 – Wichita, Kansas. Graduated Wichita (KS) East H.S., 1965; University of Kansas, 1970.