Bob Ivory

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Cross Country, Track Coach

The oldest cliche in sports tells us that records are made to be broken, and in track and field and distance running, this is generally true. Not so for the accomplishments of Bob Ivory and his St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute Marauders, who left a legacy of winning streaks, victorious meet results, and individual accomplishments untouched for over 30 years.

Bob, a St. Joe’s graduate, was teaching math at North Tonawanda High School when his alma mater tapped him to coach cross-country and track in 1965. His first squad was undefeated (9-0), and set a demanding pace for its successors to match. From 1969-75, St. Joe’s captured five more regular season titles and six consecutive All-Catholic meet championships (among seven overall). The run was punctuated by a 34 dual-meet winning streak, and by individual performances such as a Delaware Park Lake course record run by senior Alex Trammell in 1971 (12.00 for 2.5 miles), a record not challenged by the thousands of runners who have (and still do) run the course.

Ivory’s cross-country teams constantly sought challenges at invitationals all over the East. Bob’s runners brought home 20 invitational trophies to Kenmore Avenue; six by the 1971 squad (including the prestigious Eastern States Championship), perhaps the finest ever assembled in Western New York. At the Christian Brothers Academy Invitational in Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, that team set a record for fastest team time (12.52 per man) that still stands.

His track and field resume is even more impressive; it features eight league titles and nine straight All-Catholic Championships. From 1966-72, the Marauders set a Western New York record with 56 consecutive meet victories. Bishop Turner ended the run with a one-point win in May 1972, and claimed Coach Ivory’s maroon baseball cap for its trophy case. That loss is the only blemish on Ivory’s track and field record from mid-1966 to his retirement in 1975.

Bob’s track teams also achieved success in top-rank invitationals, with the highlight being the Marauder’s performance at the Penn Relays in 1972. The key members of the legendary 1971 cross-country team became the first Buffalo entry in the 78-year history of the event to win both the distance medley and the two-mile relay, missing national records in the two events by six tenths of a second and 11 seconds, respectively.

Ivory left St. Joe’s in 1975, but he still had one trick up his sleeve, coaching former Villanova star Dick Buerkle to a world indoor mile record in 1978. However, his legacy relates to St. Joe’s, and it is for his unsurpassed efforts at that school that Bob enjoys a victory lap into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.