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Ex-sprinter returns to Corbett

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? - Two-time Cardinals state champ Jim Dhone goes from track spikes to tire tread
by: David Ball Corbett’s Jim Dhone shows his display of honorary medals earned during his four years with the Marines. He and his wife Laura have lived in Corbett since 1975.

Ask him about his individual accomplishments and Jim Dhone has little to say, but ask about his former relay teammates and the floodgates open. Dhone, along with Kit Houck and Robin Hager, make up the three former track stars that were members of Corbett's back-to-back state championship teams in 1962 and '63.

The first year, the trophy came easily, as the Cardinals piled up medals like they were stocking the floors of Fort Knox. Corbett scored in nine different events, putting up first-place points in four of them. At the end of the day, they stacked 86 points on the scoreboard, beating runner-up Camas Valley by 52.

It was as if the Globetrotters had pulled on track shorts for a day.

Defending the title was a more difficult task, as graduation hit the Cardinals hard.

That meant the Big Three, Dhone, Houck and Hager would have to come up big. And they did.

'It was just one of those magical things where it all came together,' Dhone said.

Hager won a pair of hurdle titles and was the meet's high scorer with 28.5 points. Dhone won the 440-yard dash and took third in the high jump, while Houck scored in the 220 dash.

But the race that stands out the most that day in Dhone's memory is the 880 relay.

'We smoked 'em by 40 yards - it was like Secretariat in the Preakness,' Dhone says.

Typically, the third leg of the tag-team race is reserved for the slowest runner, but on this day coach Buck Monroe, a long-time fixture in Corbett sports, juggled his lineup and put Dhone on the final turn.

'Buck thought we could surprise the other teams by having me in there,' Dhone says. 'None of us had any real raw talent. I don't remember anyone getting cut from those teams. He just had a knack for putting us where we'd perform our best.'

Dhone broke the race wide open, all he needed was a clean handoff to Houck on the straightaway and the Cardinals had the race.

'I handed off to Kit, he just took off, and I knew there was know way they were going to catch him.'

Stan Fogle and Kerry Moore ran the first two legs of the race.

Dhone's victory in the 440 earlier in the day was all about avenging a second-place finish a year earlier, in a race that saw him get boxed in during the early stages, leaving him little chance to fight up through the pack.

'By my senior year, I had been racing for awhile and I knew more tactics out there on the track,' Dhone said. 'I led start to finish.'

Not that Dhone had much time to celebrate the accomplishment.

'Three days later I was in boot camp with the Marine Corp. After high school, the only time I spent running, I was running from bullets,' he laughs.

Dhone spent nearly four years in the Marines, making two tours of duty before returning to civilian life where he picked up work in the tire industry.

'It's what was available at the time,' Dhone says.

In 1975, Dhone and his wife of 43 years Laura, returned to Corbett where they have lived ever since. Dhone has spent the last 15 years supervising Goodyear's West Coast retread facilities, while Laura makes fresh-fruit jam out of the families' Moppethill Farm.

The couple has two children and two grandchildren.

The Outlook was unable to locate Houck and Hager for this story.