ON THIS DATE: Saint Louis shocks field at Cornell Relays

Kamehameha's Danny Wise edged Charles Ornellas of Saint Louis during a relay.

Lane assignments for the Cornell Relays at Kamehameha were drawn at the YMCA on March 19, 1931, with Bill Wise‘s Kamehameha crew the heavy favorite but Saint Louis expected to threaten them.

Other schools entered included Punahou, McKinley and Saint Louis.

The meet, which had been held every year since 1913, was much hyped in the newspaper, with stories advancing it every day until the action began with sports writers picking Kamehameha to beat Saint Louis by three points.

When the action finally started on Saturday, the Crusaders showed those experts to be anything but. Coach Charlie Kendall‘s Saint Louis boys took the title with Punahou second and Kamehameha a distant third. 

Kendall was described by Louie Leong Hop as “crafty as a magician … could hide $1,000 in one hand, tell a holdup man he had only a dime and get away with the thug’s watch while offering the latter a token for carfare.”

Kendall earned that praise by entering the esteemed meet without the benefit of a single preseason meet or practice, leaving people guessing about what cards he held.

Turned out his ace was Charles Ornellas, who anchored the winning medley relay and broke a record doing it, beating Kamehameha’s George Todd by six yards despite receiving the baton with a disadvantage of eight yards.

David Kauhane was another surprise for the Crusaders, beating Kamehameha’s Henry Vasconcellos by a foot and a half.

Saint Louis failed to medal in only two events, the 100 yards novice and the high jump.

Punahou football star Ted Christofferson was the top athlete in the preseason meet, breaking three event records in less than an hour before anchoring the half-mile relay victory.

At 2:50 p.m. he tied the high jump mark at 5-10 and was called away to the 220 low hurdles. He ran the distance in 25.4 seconds to beat McKinley’s Joaquin Lum and break Ray Melim‘s record from 1927. He then returned to the high jump pit and broke the record there with a 5-11 and ran it to six feet to break Pat Crockett‘s mark by two inches. Christofferson then made his way to the broad jump, where he broke Clarence Seong‘s mark from 1929 with a 21-8.5 effort.

The meet met an untimely death in 1971 at 57 years old when the public schools split and scheduled their own meet on the same day despite the leagues playing each other in basketball tournaments a month before. With that, the Punahou Relays exceeded the esteemed Cornell Relays in importance when the public schools announced that they would enter that one instead of the Cornell.


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