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Dr. Woodford A. Harris

Track and Field ∙ Ambridge

 

 

 

 

Would you believe that Woody Harris became a track star because he was afraid of water? Probably not. Would you also believe that he never saw a pair of track shoes until he got to college in 1928? Certainly not! But in four years he got so good in track that he reached the quarterfinals of the US Olympic teams 1932 trials in the 22 yard dash. But at age 79 Woody still called his phenomenal track career ‘accidental.’ Ambridge High School did not have a baseball or track team when Woody attended in the late 1920s, but since he was a self styled baseball fanatic, he joined other students in playing the famous PJ Caul amateur team as a star base stealing outfielder from 1925 to 1928. At the University of Pittsburgh, Woody went out for the track team to avoid a swimming class he detested. The same speed that served him so well on the basepaths also helped him become a track star. He ran the 100 yard dash in 9.8 seconds on cinders and three times set a school record of 21 seconds flat in the 220. He also ran on the Pitt 880 yard relay teams that finished second at the Penn Relays from 1930 to 1932. At the 1932 Olympic trials at Berkley, California, he reached the 220 yard dash quarterfinals before being eliminated. After graduating from Pitt Dental School in 1933, Woody practiced in Ambridge for 55 years, but after retirement occasionally assisted his son, Dr Michael Harris. Woody served as an Army dentist from 1943 to 1947 and reached the rank of major. During that time he returned to his favorite sport of baseball and managed a championship team in Leyte in the Philippines. Ollie had long been active in civic affairs and served 20 years on the Ambridge school board, nearly half of that time as president or vice president.