Hurdler Polkow has right state of mind
Updated: February 25, 2013 11:37AM
HINSDALE — When Dave Polkow approached a track hurdle at Hinsdale Central over 40 years ago, he did what came naturally.
He cleared it and kept going. He has been doing it ever since.
“Dave was one of Illinois’ best hurdlers,” Class of 1971 teammate Jim Conner said. “He went to the state meet, was a walk-on in college at the University of Montana and now his sons are following in his footsteps at Montana.”
Polkow, manager of a Toys“R”Us in Billings, Mont., is as modest of his hurdling accomplishments as he is proud of his sons’ achievements in Montana. He can tell you their finishes, times, weather and opponents.
“I was a zero compared to what they’ve done,” Polkow said. “I’d like to think I had a little something to do with their techniques.”
Oh, he did.
“Dad taught all of us,” said Landon Polkow, the seventh of 12 children of Dave and wife Jane Polkow who have provided foster care to over 30 children. “I was always there when my father was working with my older brothers so I was hooked when I was really young. We talk about hurdling pretty much all day every day.”
Central’s Class of ’71 was a rough-and-tumble lot with athletic achievers like Polkow, Dave Sparks, Jay Skulborstad, Craig Bouchard, Jim Flynn, Dave Guess, Bob Gajda, Bob Anderson, John Wheeler, Mark Lambert, Rob Meyer, Jeff Gabriel, Gary Edwards, Dave Guess, Doug Stevenson, Billy Poole, Dave Bere, Bill Monro and Alvin Johnson. Steve Koski went from Central to Montana, along with Polkow, Conner and senior-class leader Patty Cagney.
Among other highlights from that class:
• The football team, led by power fullback Albert Fiorentino, kick-started the school year with a 6-1-1 record under new coach Gene Strode, including a stunning season-opening upset of Evanston;
• The swimmers of coach Don Watson were buoyed by 6-foot-4 Olympic Games’ medalist John Murphy;
• The baseball players sharpened their spikes in the dugout before taking the field;
• The gymnasts of coach Tony Canino and tennis players of Jay Kramer both already were into their strings of state titles.
Central’s senior and junior boys formed their own “club” in the early 1970s as unofficial cheerleaders at football and basketball games.
“We called ourselves the ‘Sons of Satan’ and sat high up in the bleachers until the school ‘suggested’ we shut ourselves down,” Conner said.
Conner made a name for himself in Montana where he a game warden with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department until his recent retirement.
“It’s beautiful up here with views of the Big Snowy Mountains,” Conner said from his home in Helena, where he lives with wife Tracy and children Cary, Lacy and Kelsey. “I had to issue a lot of tickets, but fortunately never had to pull my gun. Most people are respectful of what we have here.”