facebook tracking pixel Rush inducted into yet another Hall of Fame | TheUnion.com

Rush inducted into yet another Hall of Fame

Charlie McNiff
Submitted to The Union
Bob Rush, a 1953 Nevada Union High School graduate, was recently inducted into the Northern California Sports Hall of Fame.
Submitted photo |

A legend in his own time, Bob Rush has been honored yet again for his accomplishments in the track and field arena for the past 65 years.

Rush was inducted into the Northern California Sports Hall of Fame March 21 in Yuba City with 462 sports folks in attendance from different areas in the North State while honoring eight other inductees.

Rush, who was raised in Grass Valley, dropped a bombshell in the track and field world in 1977 when he invented the first electronic recording timer for cross country and track called the “Chronomix.” It was used throughout the world of cross country and track and field. It was also used world wide in marathon and road races. It has the capacity to print the time and place of thousands of runners with a push of a button as well as recording the time to a thousand of a second. It changed the track world from a blink of a second to blinks of a second.

At Grass Valley High in his youth, he excelled in cross country and the mile in track in his junior and senior years (school name was changed to Nevada Union High School in his senior year of 1953. He was in the first graduating class of Nevada Union.) Bob’s first two years of high school sports included playing football, basketball, tennis and golf. At the end of his sophomore year during the sixth period, physical education period for athletes, the track coach had all the athletes in the school run a 3/4 of a mile. This race included the entire cross country team of the school. He beat them all… and the track coach said in part, “I think we found the right sport for you.” Rush later related, “That was the biggest turning point in my sports career and my life.”

Bob went on to win the Sierra Foothill League championships for cross country and the mile run in track both his junior and senior years, 1952 and 1953.

He attended Sacramento City College (then Junior College) for two years (1953-55) and qualified for the State Championships in both the mile and two mile, his best mile time of 4:28.2. That led him to San Jose State University where he continued running cross country and track under U.S. Hall of Fame coach Bud Winter. Rush received his Master’s Degree in Physical Education in 1959.

From 1959 to 1963 Rush was a science teacher and coach at C. K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento and eventually become assistant track coach working primarily with the distance runners. He coached a 4×880 relay team that ran a 7:51.4 to win the Fresno Relays, which is averaging about 1:58.0 for each relay runner.

Rush moved on to be head track coach of San Mateo High School in the bay area from 1963 to 1969. He also taught science and eventually the full time Physical Education teacher and Athletic Director. San Mateo had a great Track and Field tradition and Rush kept that legacy alive and they continued to be contenders and winners in the league and sectional championships. In 2007, he was inducted into the San Mateo High School Hall of Fame as a coach. In 2011, Rush was again inducted in the Hall of Fame as the coach of the 1964 cross country team and again in 2012 he was inducted for the third time as coach of the 1968 track and Field team. (San Mateo inducts both coaches and teams).

For the next 27 years, from 1969 to 1995 Rush took over the reins of head track and cross country coach and Professor of Physical Education at College of San Mateo.

In 1989 his women’s track team was second in the California Community College State Championships. In that meet Bob had six men and women state champions. One of those women was Nicole Carroll who went on to be and Olympian javelin thrower in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. As a side note, he also coached the famous comedian Dana Carvey on his Cross Country Team.

In 1996 Bob Rush was inducted into the California Community College Track Coaches Hall of Fame and in 2011 he was inducted into the first class of the College of San Mateo Hall of Fame along with Bill Walsh and John Madden who both played football at CSM.

In 2008, Rush received the “President’s Award” from the United States Track and Field Association for dedication and service to track and field athletes in the United States.

In 1971, with the help of Loren Lansberry, coach at Carlmont High School, Rush designed one of the first true cross country courses in the United States. Located on the very edge of the San Andreas Fault, it has panoramic views of the city of San Francisco and the bay area. The start and finish are located close to each other and about 80 percent of the course can be seen from the starting area. It is a coaches, spectators and photographers paradise to watch races on this extremely challenging course. There have been three men and women’s National Championships that have run on the course. Countless high school, state, community college, sectional and university as well as junior high school championships and invitational races that run the course. It has been estimated that about half of a million runners have competed on the course, not counting the joggers and other persons that use the course year around. It is the home course of College of San Mateo who has the only permit to use this special water shed and game preserve property. This is Rush’s 44th year of scheduling races, as well as maintaining and directing the course. That’s a lot of yard work for a fellow that has reached his 80th birthday this year.

Beginning in the mid-1980’s under the direction of the late John Orognen (Yuba College coach), the USATF Hurdle Development group was founded and organized. The objective of the project was to video tape, with touch down times and other tech information of the men’s short and long hurdle races at the Nationals and Olympic Trials. The video review and tech information was made available to the athletes and their coaches the next morning at a breakfast meeting. The emphasis of this committee was to identify the top 10 hurdlers in the United States and provide them with technical video information that prepare them for the possibility of representing the United States in the Olympic Games. Rush was a technical advisor and video tape operator for this committee.

In 1984 John Orognen (Yuba College) Lou Vasquez (City College of San Francisco) and Rush went to China and gave track and field clinics to young Chinese athletes and their coaches. Their wives also went on the trip with them. According to Rush, they were treated and dined like royalty. They all agreed that is one of the greatest trips of their lives.

In 1993, Rush was selected as assistant coach, under head coach Ron Mann of Northern Arizona University for the Western United States at the Olympic Festival held at UCLA. The Festival involved dividing the United States into four divisions. North, South, East, and West. The best athletes from each division competed in a championship meet that was scored by division. The purpose of this festival was to give those athletes an Olympic-like atmosphere and competition, in hopes of preparing them for possible Olympic berths. The West team was victorious at this meet. In 1994, Rush was selected to be the head coach for the West. This festival was held in San Antonio Texas and the Western United States was again the champions.

“Winning a dinner from my friend, Ralph Lindeman, head track coach at the US Air Force Academy (North US Head Coach) was a high light and joy.”

Because of shortening of financial funding, 1995 was the last year of the Olympic Festival.

This report was written by Charlie McNiff of the Northern California Sports Hall of Fame.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.