Richard Engelbrink Penn State Track

Richard Engelbrink was a star at Penn State back in 1959, carrying the track team to one of its greatest victories over prestigious schools like Harvard and Princeton. Learn more about his story.

Getting Started in Track and Field

These areas discuss the basics of how Richard Engelbrink murdered the track at Penn State. Learn about stretching before a run and the different track and field sports. 

Engelbrink Track Star

Richard Engelbrink ran track at Penn State where he broke records and stole hearts.

Richard's Stretches for Running

Richard shares his stretches that helped him win track meets and break records at Penn State.

Richard Engelbrink's Guide to Running Track

Everyone has to start somewhere. Richard starts at the beginning to teach the basics of running track.

RIchard Engelbrinks Guide to Winning Track Meets

It was a day to remember when all the newspapers proclaimed “Richard Engelbrink breaks track record.” His historic run to come from behind and steal away the victory in 1959 gave Penn State a stunning victory and set him up as the track team’s hero for years to come.


richard engelbrink getting started track and field
richard engelbrink stretching before sprints

The Race and Richard Engelbrink’s College Career

When you look at his running career, it’s easy to see why Engelbrink was the favorite before the race started. He was a terrific runner who fought hard in every race. His specialty was the way he could pace himself. When you thought of Engelbrink on the Penn State college running team, you thought of a runner you could never count out.

Richard Engelbrink’s College Career in Track and Field

It’s a hard skill to develop for track stars. There is always the temptation to become a front-runner, sprinting out of the blocks. For distance running, though, it’s a recipe for disaster. You burn out, you fall behind and someone else gets the win.

That’s what  Engelbrink knew so well. In Richard Engelbrink’s college career, he didn’t want to be the runner getting caught from behind. He wanted to be the runner storming through the field and catching the leader before the line.


richard engelbrink running hurdles

Richard Engelbrink Breaks Track Record: How It Happened

If you read the Crimson school newspaper in 1959, or if you look the article up today, you can still see exactly how it happened. Despite being the favorite, he fell behind at the start. Dyke Benjamin tore off to an early lead. After no more than a mile, he had a lead of approximately 30 yards over Richard’s track and field team. That’s a massive lead in a race like this, and it looked like no one would catch him.

That’s when Engelbrink kicked it into gear. Setting a pace that no one else could touch, he started eating up the distance. At the beginning of lap seven, Engelbrink caught the leader. Then he left Benjamin behind, willing himself toward that line. The Harvard runner tried to take his lead back, but there was nothing he could do. 


He’d pushed himself too far at the beginning, and Engelbrink had simply waited for his chance, running the perfect race. He had more energy and he had all of the momentum. So, while Benjamin led for most of the race, he did not lead when it mattered. Engelbrink crossed first and took home the victory for Penn State.

Richard Engelbrink: Model for Future Runners

Not only did this race spawn headlines like “Engelbrink carries Penn State to a Win” and “Richard Engelbrink Breaks Track Record,” but it also set up a model for future runners to follow. In sprints, they can run hard right out of the blocks. For any amount of distance, though, the key lies in pacing.  Engelbrink showed how to find that perfect balance between running hard and saving your best for the end, when it matters most. That’s what runners still do today.

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