McKinney High School track records recognized after 45 years
Photo courtesy of RD Foster - Former McKinney High School track star Rob Hendricks, 63, holds his mile-run record in front of the school's record board. Hendricks' time, set in 1967 and yet to be broken, was wrongfully missing from the board until Oct. 25.
By RD Foster, Special to the Courier-Gazette
By the time Rob Hendricks, son of the late Texas Congressman Bob Hendricks, had graduated from McKinney High School in 1967, he had broken and re-set every long-distance track record in the MHS record book, and went on to SMU to help the Mustangs win three consecutive Southwest Conference Cross Country Championships.
However, on the official track-and-field record board at MHS, the legendary miler's name was conspicuously absent; it erroneously showed that the school's best time for the event was set in 2001 with a time of 4 minutes, 24 seconds.
"The issue surfaced during a casual conversation between Keith and Debbie Reeder and Donna Hendricks, Rob's wife," said Larry Eubanks, former MHS teammate and college roommate of Hendricks. "Keith knew it was important to Rob and asked if I could possibly look into it. I needed to first confirm Rob's time without him knowing I was doing the research. Once I had the information and matched it to the school record board, it was obvious that Rob's time was almost six seconds better than the posted time. A byproduct of the research was the revelation that although Jack Faubion's record in the high hurdles was still posted, his time was actually faster and his 330-yard hurdles time was missing."
The 1966-67 school year had been especially memorable for athletics in McKinney. The football Lions will always be remembered as the first MHS team, in a long tradition of champions, to reach a Texas State Championship game. The basketball team won the district championship, the first in many years, and advanced into the playoffs. The track team, following a long tradition of great McKinney runners, would set records that still stand today.
Dominating multiple events, Hendricks, Eubanks and Jack Faubion set four records in the District 6-3A meet, swept through Regionals, and went on to compete in another State Championship. Eubanks and Faubion were joined by Tommy Lewis and Frank Daniels to form the mile relay team that won District and Regionals, thereby advancing to the State Championships, as well.
Going into the final meet, Faubion, son of then-MHS principal and a first-team All-State selection in football, held the best times in Texas in two events. His 37.4 seconds in the 330-yard hurdles was not only best in the state but a national record, as well. Posting a 13.7 in the 120-yard high hurdles, he had not lost a race all year.
However, at the state meet, running his best race and leading by two yards, his speed caused him to crash into the final hurdle costing him first place. He fought through to a remarkable third-place finish. In his next event, running neck and neck all the way through the 330 hurdles, Faubion and his main challenger finished with the exact same time, with his opponent winning by a nose in a photo finish.
Eubanks, All-District safety in football and winner of the prestigious Lion Heart Award, also qualified for three State Championship events. In a thrilling race that ended in a storybook finish, Eubanks, considered an underdog, won first place in the 880, nearing his personal best time with a 1:54.2. Shortly after posting his win in the 880, he had a quick turnaround in the 330 hurdles, along with teammate Faubion, but came up just short of a medal.
Meanwhile, long-distance runner Hendricks was on his way to becoming a McKinney track legend. Having advanced to Regionals as a sophomore, he won District and Regionals in the mile run two years in a row, setting numerous records along the way. Even with all his success and the second-best time in the state, Hendricks went into the State meet as an underdog, running against heavily favored Robert Gonzales from Falfurrias, who held the nation's best time. Running a valiant race, Hendricks tied for second with his best time ever, 4:19.8.
Along with the accolades came scholarships. Faubion selected Rice University, where he became a football and track star, helping the Owls win the Southwest Conference Track-and-Field Championship in 1971. Eubanks and Hendricks chose SMU, where they were roommates. Eubanks moved to the 440-yard hurdles and won the Southwest Conference title in 1969, setting a conference record. Hendricks would see his best success at SMU, running on a cross country team that won three straight championships.
All three men went on to become successful businessmen, husbands and fathers, with Hendricks and Eubanks still married to their high school sweethearts.
But the story doesn't end there. After Eubanks heard about the possible error on the MHS record board, he learned that Hendricks had recently been diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a primary malignant brain tumor.
"Rob was sort of like the Energizer Bunny - he never stopped running," Eubanks said. "Given his health issues, we wanted to do something that might lift spirits a bit. The best thing we could do was to make sure his name got on that record board."
After visiting with a track historian in Austin and researching the microfilm archives at McKinney Public Library, Eubanks found all the evidence he needed in the 1967 sports pages of the McKinney Courier-Gazette. With more than enough proof in hand, he then met with athletic officials at MHS who were extremely grateful for being provided the correct data.
For more than four and a half decades, three McKinney track records had stood unbroken but missing from the record board. On Oct. 25 this year, a small ceremony including family, teammates, school friends and coaches took place at MHS, where the records were added to the board.
Coming as a complete surprise to the honoree, Eubanks, on behalf of the Class of '67, presented the 63-year-old Hendricks with several mementos to honor his name and times as they were added to the long list of champions, showing that after 45 years his record in the mile run, 4:19.8 (since converted to metric standards, 1,600 meters - 4:18.3), still stands.
"Although facing a significant medical challenge ahead, Rob continues to receive treatment and maintains a remarkably positive attitude," Eubanks said, "much as he did when he laced 'em up and stepped on the track to compete."