Dana Jenkins

Dana Jenkins was too good for his own good in his last two years at Eunice High School.
Before World War I, strange rules governing the State Rally at Baton Rouge did not allow an athlete to compete in an event he had already won.
Jenkins, who led Eunice to the championship in 1914 by winning the four events (100, 220, 440 and broad jump) that he dominated throughout his high school career, had to do something else as a senior.
He entered six other events—and won all of them, although he was disqualified in two. But he scored 20 oh his team’s 29 points as Eunice captured the championship again.
Jenkins was disqualified in the 120-yard high hurdles for running out of his “alley” (at that time, strings separated the lanes on a track). A mile relay victory, with Jenkins wiping out a big deficit on the final leg, was erased because a Eunice fan ran alongside him to encourage him.
He won the 50-yard dash, 880-yard run, 220-yard low hurdles and hop, step and jump.
The most spectacular performance came in the 880. Bothered by a rock in his shoe, Jenkins stopped twice during the race to fix it. He finally kicked off the shoe and finished the race in 2:09 with one bare foot.
In the 50-yard dash and 220-yard hurdles, Harry Rabenhorst of Baton Rouge High—who later coached LSU basketball and baseball teams for more than three decades—was one of the athletes chasing him.
Jenkins’ winning performances were 5.6 in the 50, 26.0 in the low hurdles and 42-9 in the hop, step and jump (now called the triple jump).
The previous year, he won the 100 in 10.2, 220 in 23.0, 440 in 53.8 and broad jump with a leap of 20 feet, 9 1/2 inches.
Two weeks after the 1914 State Rally, Jenkins won the 440 in the Tulane interscholastic meet with a time of 53.4 seconds—faster than the winning time by Jud Galloway of LSU in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association meet on the same weekend.
Jenkins’ older brother, Harry Jenkins, ran with Galloway on a record-breaking LSU mile relay team in that SIAA meet.
The following summer, LSU coach Frank “Tad” Gormley organized a Southern team to compete in the national AAU championships in San Francisco and Jenkins—who had spent the summer working on his father’s farm near Eunice—got his first taste of national competition.
Running the 440-yard dash on a straightaway, Ted Meredith shattered the existing world record with a time of 47 seconds flat. But it wasn’t allowed, because it was wind-aided. Meredith and Binga Dismond, who finished third in that race, later lowered the official record to 47.4.
Jenkins wasn’t ready for such stiff competition, but he developed into one of the South’s best sprinters at LSU one year later.
In his first collegiate meet, a dual affair with Rice, Jenkins won the 220 and finished second in both the 100 and 440. Then he won all three events in a 30-point victory over Tulane, lowering his time in the quarter to 50 seconds flat.
He wrapped up his freshman season by leading LSU to the championship of the SIAA meet at Nashville, Tenn., setting meet records in the 220 with 21.8 and 440 with 48.8. In the latter race, he defeated Don Scott of Mississippi A&M—the first Southern athlete to win a national AAU championship and the first to break 50 seconds in the 440 yard dash.
Scott won his national title in 1916 with a meet record 1:54 in the 880-yard run, but he didn’t equal that time in the Antwerp Olympics that summer and finished fifth.
To say the least, LSU students took track seriously in those days. Led by cheerleader D.D. Morgan and the school’s band, students staged a night shirt parade down Third Street when the champions arrived in Baton Rouge.
In a postseason meet at New Orleans, Jenkins cut a full second off the Southern AAU record in the 220 with 21.4—only two-tenths over the listed world record. He also set an SAAU record in the 440 with 49.6 and won the 100 in 9.8—although that time was not allowed as a record because of a question about the timing.
A call to arms then interrupted Jenkins’ track training. Jenkins, who had military training at LSU, and Fritz Oakes, a champion broad jumper and hurdler, joined a National Guard unit, which served on the Mexican border.
Gormley arranged for him to leave military service long enough to compete in the national AAU meet at Newark, N.J., but Jenkins hadn’t been training for track events and failed to make the finals.
He didn’t equal his freshman performances the following year, missing one meet because of a sprained ankle and winning three events in a dual victory over Tulane. The remainder of the Tigers’ schedule was canceled because of World War I.
After he was discharged from the National Guard, Jenkins returned to Eunice to marry his high school sweetheart, Annie Bloodsworth, and settle down on a farm. They raised eight children—five girls and three boys.
He competed before starting blocks were introduced to track events, when sprinters used trowels to dig holes in the track at the starting line. Although he had only one full season of college competition, Jenkins set record that passed the test of time.
His school record of 9.8 seconds in the 100 stood for 12 years. His school record of 48.4 in the 440 was broken by national champion Glenn “Slats” Hardin 18 years later.
Gormley, who later developed two Olympians at Loyola, called Jenkins “the greatest all-around sprinter this state has ever produced.”
Jenkins died on June 10, 1966, and was posthumously inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame two years later.