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And his little brother was no slouch


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  • And his little brother was no slouch

    Roger Sayers, Omaha Central

    Class of 1959--Competing in an era where most athletes received a catchy nickname, Rocket Roger Sayers first showned a knack for speed as an Omaha Central athlete in 1957-58-59, winning 100-220 gold medals in 1958, the 220 and a relay gold in 1959. Omaha University star in football and track for four years. State college athlete of the year in 1962. Took his sprinting career to the international scene by running with the United States national team in 1962, going against the Russia and Polish teams.

  • #2
    Re: And his little brother was no slouch

    The Rocket

    The following article appeared in the winter 1994 issue of the UNO Alum as a look at the 10 Most Memorable Moments in UNO Sports History.

    By Kevin Warneke

    When Roger Sayers outstretched world-record holder Bob Hayes in the 100-yard dash, "Roger the Rocket" didn't think much of the feat. Neither did Lloyd Cardwell, Sayers' track coach at Omaha University.

    "It wasn't a surprise," Cardwell said. "Roger was a good runner. Roger had run just as fast as Hayes had."

    Sayers nipped Hayes at the finish in their preliminary 100-yard-dash heat at the 1962 NAIA Track and Field Championships. Sayers finished at 9.5, Hayes at 9.7.

    For good measure, Sayers defeated Hayes again in the finals.

    Sayers said Hayes, who attended Florida A&M at the time, didn't show much reaction after the two races.

    "We didn't say a lot," he recalls. "We went our own ways. It was more of a shock to the athletes and the others in the crowd than to either of us."

    Sayers, brother of NFL Hall of Famer Gale Sayers, later would compete for the U.S. National track team in duals against Poland and the Soviet Union. He was headed for a rematch with Hayes in the 1964 U.S. Olympic Trials, but was sidelined by an injury suffered during the national NAIA meet.

    Hayes went on to capture an Olympic gold medal, then starred for the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.

    Sayers also put his speed to good use for the OU football team. In fact, it helped him turn a trap pass into a 99-yard scoring play — an NAIA record that still stands.