Historical Profile: Ed Cook, Volume 2 - College And Olympics

(Members of the Cornell University team, who represented the United States at the 1908 Olympics in London ~ J.P. Halstead, J. Carpenter, Harry Porter, Charles French, Edward Cook and H.L. Trube)

A previous article featuring Ed Cook, released earlier this month, focused on his extensive list of accolades earned while at the high school level. In the latest installment of our 'Historical Series' we're taking a deep dive into Cook's achievements during his college tenure, as well as his work on the international circuit. 

More information on Ed Cook can be reviewed in the links below, as can the rationale for why MileSplit Ohio contributor, Shawn Conlon has locked in on researching some of Ohio's greatest high school track and field competitors from the early portion of the twentieth century. 

Additional Coverage - 

Ed Cook ~ College & Olympic Years   

Freshmen were not eligible to participate in sports at Cornell so Ed did not compete in 1907. He did compete for the Irish American Athletic Club at the AAU Championships. These were open to all amateurs and included numerous former and future Olympians. He won the pole vault with a vault of 12-03 and was runner-up in the long jump going 23-02.5.

Ed began his official collegiate career at the Intercollegiate Meet at the University of Pennsylvania. This meet would eventually be come to known as the Penn Relays.  He won the long jump and was second in the pole vault but it took a world record jump by W.R. Dray of Yale to beat him. The IC4A Championships (Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America) were the top level collegiate meet prior to the NCAA Championships in 1921. Cornell won the thirty-third annual event with twenty-four points. Ed won the long jump with a 22-08.5 performance.

The Olympic trials began soon after the season in Philadelphia. Ed won the long jump going 23-02.5. He did not place in the top three in the pole vault. He was selected for the 1908 London Olympic team in both the long jump and the pole vault. The games were marred by numerous controversies. Plant boxes were becoming standard by 1908 and even hay bales were used for landing pads at numerous meets. 

The Olympic Games of London had neither. Dray from Yale even withdrew due to safety concerns. The pole vault had six rounds of competition, plus finals. In the finals Cook and A.C. Gilbert of Yale tied at 12-02. By some accounts there was no jump off due to the controversy of the marathon finish. Dorando Pietri of Italy finished first in the marathon, but upon entering the stadium due to extreme fatigue and dehydration he ran in the wrong direction. He fell to the ground five times in the stadium and was help up by an official each time.  He finished about thirty seconds ahead of American Johnny Hayes. The American team immediately filed a complaint. 

In the end Pietri was disqualified and Hayes was awarded the gold medal. Due to time constraint from this event, officials declared a tie in the pole vault and both Cook and Gibert were awarded gold medals. Both athletes also set the Olympic record with their vaults. Controversy followed Cook in the long jump as well. Cook was in fourth place after the prelims but was not allowed to participate in the final even though he was supposed to receive a spot. He finished fourth with a jump of 22-10. Even in receiving his gold medal from Queen Victoria he was disappointed with his treatment as the Queen was quite curt and did not congratulate the American athletes.  

While in England Ed and five other American athletes were entertained by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, at his estate in Tunbridge Wells. He met them at the train station with two automobiles and took them on a thirty-five mile ride through the country.  After England the team moved on to France where they were treated very well. In Paris the team ran at an international meet at the Colombes Grounds. Cook won the pole vault and brought home silver medals in the 110m hurdles, long jump and high jump. He was not planning to run the hurdles but was encouraged by gold medalist Forrest Smithson to enter.  With only fifteen minutes of practice, Ed took second place just behind Smithson.  

The 1909 season did not go as planned. Cornell Coach Moakley intended for Ed to run both of the hurdle events and long jump but not to pole vault. Sometime is April he sprained an ankle and subsequently sprained the other ankle. Not much was reported on the injury as the team tried to keep it quiet. This kept him out of meets for most of the season. Ed returned for the IC4A Championships at Harvard but with the injuries he only entered two events. He won in the long jump. He jumped 22-06 to secure the victory. He was also fourth in the pole vault at the meet.  

Ed was elected captain of the Cornell track team for the 1910 season. Unfortunately, he did not return to the university for his senior season. He went back to Chillicothe to go into business. He did return to track for a short time in 1911 winning the AAU Championship in the pole vault and also ran a 15.6 in the 110m hurdles at the event.  

Ed was elected to both the Chillicothe Athletic Hall of Fame and the Cornell University Athletic Hall of Fame. He later coached track and football at Oakwood High School in Dayton, bringing home track state championships in the class "B" division in 1929, 1930 and 1931. He was also a farmer and the director of the First National Bank of Chillicothe. In a May 1972 New York Times interview he lamented about never having the opportunity to vault with the "new fangled" fiberglass poles. He said "I should say I would have liked to try the glass".  Ed Cook died in October of that year.  

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