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Jess Mortensen

Photo of Jess Mortensen

Inducted: 1992, coach

Born: April 16, 1907 - Thatcher, Arizona
Deceased: February 19, 1962

One of the great sports figures in the history of the University of Southern California, Jess Mortensen served the Trojans successfully as both an athlete and a coach. He lettered in football, basketball and track at USC. As a track athlete, he won the NCAA javelin title in 1929 and the National AAU javelin championship in 1930. The next year, he became track coach at Riverside Junior College, where he remained, except for a break during World War II, until 1947. That year, he moved to the University of Denver in 1947, before becoming head track coach at West Point in 1950. He returned to his Alma Mater as head coach in 1951. Until his death in 1962, Mortensen coached the Trojans to seven NCAA team titles and his teams never finished worse than second in the Pacific Conference meet. His USC teams were never defeated in 64 dual meets. Mortensen coached some of the greatest athletes in the sport, including Olympic gold medalists Parry O'Brien, Jerome Biffle, Mike Larrabee, Rex Cawley, Charles Dumas, Dallas Long and Sim Iness. Many of his athletes were also world record holders, headed by O'Brien and Long who between them set 12 world outdoor shot put records. Mortensen served an assistant coach with the 1956 U.S. Olympic team.

1930 AAU: Javelin Throw (1st)
1929 NCAA: Javelin Throw (1st)

undergraduate: USC (Los Angeles, California), 1929


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