Born: December 23, 1943 - Brooklyn, NY
Sewanhaka H.S., 1961
Kansas State Teachers College, 1965
Seven-time NAIA champion
Kansas is a state noted for legendary middle-distance runners. Six of them - Glenn Cunningham, John Mason, Archie San Romani, Jim Ryun, Wes Santee and Ken Swenson - are members of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Now, there's a seventh inductee - John Camien - who came halfway across the continent to make his mark at Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia.
"Being inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame is a great honor," said Camien, who makes his home in New York. "It's an honor to be selected alongside such distinguished athletes."
Camien, now 67, distinguished himself early and often at the school that is now known as Emporia State University. He was the premier miler at the NAIA level during his four years in college (1961-65) and excelled in cross country as well for the Hornets. Later, he represented the United States in several international track and field meets.
Camien credits his success to his high school coach, the late Jim Fraley, who was born in Kansas, moved to New York and eventually retired in Emporia. Fraley was also coached four-time Olympic discus champion Al Oerter, who is also a member of the KSHOF.
“He was a person and coach I respected and believed in,” Camien said. “He was a 'people person' whose whole life was dedicated to helping people. He was the biggest influence in all my years of competitive running, not only in high school, but college and after that as well.”
In cross country, Camien was a two-time NAIA national champion, four-time All-American and three-time conference winner at Emporia. In indoor track, he won eight conference championships alone. During outdoor competition, Camien won eight conference crowns and five NAIA national championships, including the mile run three times and the 1,500 meters once. When he left KSTC in 1965, Camien owned the school record for the mile (4:01.84) and 1,500 meters (3:40.04).
As a prep runner at Sewanhaka High School, Camien was the New York state champion at 800 meters in 1960 and the mile run in 1961 and held the state record for the mile run for 20 years. He was named the outstanding high school athlete at the 1961 Penn Relays and finished second in the mile at the prestigious Golden West Invitational in 1961.
In 1963, Camien finished third in the mile run at the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland. He represented the United States during three other tours of Europe.
"Those trips afforded me an education in itself," he said. "I realized how lucky I was to live in such a great nation. I was in Prague, Czechoslovakia, behind the Iron Curtain when it was occupied by the Russians."
Camien, who has also been inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame, Helms Foundation Hall of Fame and Emporia State Athletic Hall of Honor, was a teacher and track coach for 35 years.
"I had the opportunity to bring positive influences to others as I had experienced as a youth," said Camien, who is now retired with his wife Fran and enjoys spending time with his grandchildren.