By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
As a Hall of Fame radio broadcaster, Jim Moyes has told stories of high school sports for more than 50 years – and helped others do the same with his contributions as an authority on Michigan high school track & field history.
In the latter role, Moyes decades ago endeavored to uncover the names of every champion in MHSAA Finals history. And amid that research, he uncovered stories he knew he must share from the state’s rich tradition.
Moyes’ initial inspiration added to the expertise of another of the state’s foremost historians in the sport – Michtrack.org creator and Track & Field News associate editor Jeff Hollobaugh – has culminated in a 439-page must-have tome covering more than a century of the state’s best.
“The Fleet Feet of Spring: Michigan’s High School State Championships in Track & Field, 1895-2018” is co-authored by Moyes and Hollobaugh and tackles exactly that – more than 100 years of track & field results, beginning with an era before the MHSAA was created during 1924-25, with summations of championship meets, photos and features along the way that paint an all-encompassing picture.
“My initial project was simply to develop a data base of state champions in track & field, but it soon mushroomed into much more. While delving into the research I was inspired by many of the vast accomplishments dating back over the years,” Moyes said. “It wasn’t long before I realized that this was a story that should be told, and it soon became a labor of love.
“Before my research, I had never heard of many of these great athletes of the past. I was dumbfounded to learn that Alan Smith, an eight-time state champion, was killed in action in World War II, as well as deeds of others both on and off the athletic fields.”
Moyes said he first was “piqued” to write during his days as a student at North Muskegon, where at his school library he picked up a copy of “Athletics in Michigan High Schools: The First Hundred Years” by Lewis L. Forsythe, the first president of the MHSAA Representative Council.
Moyes’ gathering of names began long before the internet and led him to libraries all over our state. He also wrote hundreds of letters as he tracked down thousands of names – mostly first names, as often only the last names of competitors were listed in newspaper reports during the early eras.
With Hollobaugh’s imprint, all of those years of research became not just an encyclopedia, but a story.
“What Jeff has accomplished with this book cannot be thanked enough with just words,” Moyes said. “Jeff took this data base and created a format for state champs that took him many hours, days, weeks, months and even a couple of years to finalize.
“He laboriously fact-checked this entire book and created many of those amazing ‘nuggets’ that gave this publication the character that goes beyond boring our readers with just stats.”
“The Fleet Feet of Spring” is available from Amazon for $24.99. The first 268 pages are filled with stories of every meet dating back to events conducted by the Michigan Inter-School Athletic Association. The next 170 pages are packed with every championship listing imaginable, including names of contributors to winning relays through the years and a list of total individual champions per school.