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John Tillman

A sensational high school performance in both track and cross country at Akron North set the stage for an outstanding three years at Ohio University. In 1963 at North—his first year running cross country—Tillman won both the city and district individual championships, leading the Vikings team to capture both crowns. One year later he repeated as individual champ in both contests. During his two year’s competing in cross country he was undefeated on the Goodyear Metropolitan Park two-mile course.

In track competition, he was 1963 city and district champ in the mile and half-mile. As a senior in '64 he repeated the performance and finished second in the mile at the state meet and third in the half-mile. At Ohio University he lettered in track and cross country in his first two years setting an OU indoor record in the 600 yard run with a time of 1:10. As a sophomore, Tillman is credited with pushing the nationally renouned Jim Ryun to a world record time in the 800 meters at the U.S. Track and Field National Meet in Terra Haute, Indiana. The Bobcats track coach reportedly said prior to the race that “Tillman was the fella Ryun had to catch.” And it turned out to be true. Tillman took the lead at the start clocking 52.5 seconds compared to Ryun’s 53.3 and led over the first half of the race. Ryun finally passed the tiring Tillman some 200 yards from the finish line as he blazed toward the record.

In 1966, Tillman received All-American honors in the half-mile at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Indiana University. He left OU to join the Marines where he represented the Corps in the 1968 Olympic trials in Los Angeles. After he left the Marines he joined Goodyear where he worked for nearly 24 years before deciding to complete his college education. He entered The University of Akron and earned a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Education. He taught in the Akron School system, retiring in 2013.

Inducted 2015 | Track & Field