Derby History Quiz

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Jimmy Keefe

Jimmy Keefe didn't make the Olympics, but had it not been for an injury that short circuited him at his peak, he might have. He is probably the greatest runner that Derby High School has produced to date. He capped his career in 1963 when as a Central Connecticut State College student, he was a member of the United States Track & Field team that competed and won duel meets in Russia, Poland, West Germany and England. He was already the New England, NAIA and NCAA College Division three mile champion when he made the team a year before the Tokyo Olympics.

Though he did not win on the tour, he was the top American finisher in the 5,000 meter run in Moscow and in Warsaw. In Hanover, he switched to the 10,000 meter run for the first time in his career and was again the top American finisher while finishing second to the German runner who overtook him in the last 100 yards. In London, he was again the top American finisher in the 5,000 meter run. The tour stamped him as one of the early favorites to make the U.S. Olympic team in either the 5,000 or 10,000 meter for the 1964 Olympics.

Unfortunately, he struggled in 1964 and fell a bit short, but he still ranks as the most accomplished runner to ever come out of Derby High School. In responding to the quiz, Dave Petz of Texas recounts, "Jimmy Keefe had a sitting heart rate of 42 bpm. His endurance was almost super human- swam the race from the Rec Camp to Indian Wells, got out of the water and started looking for something to eat. Jimmy broke mostly all of the records held by Jim Foley, circa DHS 1934."

Jimmy still returns to his home town occasionally, and you can see him pictured on the right at the 2003 All Class Reunion.

Correct answers were received from: John M. Rak, Millie from Ansonia, Pastor Walt Mayhew, Rick Dunne, Tony Cannici, Jack Skelding, Ann Searles, Neil V. Dorso, Jack O'Callaghan, Eileen Petz Kirkner, Dave Petz,

To see our other earlier quizzes and learn more about Derby's unique history, click here.