Francis X. Cretzmeyer, USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame Special Inductee

Francis X. Cretzmeyer was a talented athlete at the University of Iowa who later served as a successful coach at his alma mater from 1948-78.

Cretzmeyer competed at Iowa from 1934-36 under fellow USTFCCCA Hall of Famer George Bresnahan. He competed in several events as a collegiate athlete, including the long jump, high jump, 220 yard hurdles, and javelin, and he was named an alternate for the 1936 Olympic Team in the 220 yard hurdles. Competing against Big Ten rival Jesse Owens of Ohio State, Cretzmeyer never won a Big Ten title, but he set school records for points scored in a season and career points scored, the latter of which stood for over 60 years.

In 1938, Cretzmeyer accepted his first coaching job in Harrisburg, Illinois as a basketball coach. He moved to Des Moines North (IA) High School two years later, where he worked as a swimming and track & field coach and won three state cross country team titles. After seven years at Des Moines North, Cretzmeyer spent one year at Grinnell College as a track & field coach.

In 1948, Bresnahan retired from coaching, and Cretzmeyer was hired to take over the Iowa program, a position he held for the next 30 years. Under his tutelage, the Hawkeyes won their first-ever Big Ten cross country team championships in 1963 and 1967.

Cretzmeyer’s individual athletes were even more successful. He coached seven NCAA Champions (six in track, one in cross country), five Olympians, 22 All Americans (18 in track, four in cross country), and 146 Big Ten Champions (140 in track, six in cross country). Among his talented athletes were Olympic Gold Medalist Ira James Murchison, Olympian Ted Wheeler, Olympian and NCAA champion Deacon Jones, and Olympian Rich Ferguson.

Cretzmeyer is recognized in several Halls of Fame, including the Drake Relays, the Des Moines Register Iowa Sports, the Iowa Track Coaches Association, and the University of Iowa Athletics Halls of Fame, and the University of Iowa’s track is named in his honor. He also served as President of the track coaches association in his last year of coaching, 1977-78.