smith carson janell
Janell (Smith) Carson

  • Competed before there was such a thing as organized high school sports for girls in Kansas
  • Represented the United States in the 400-meter dash at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo
  • A two-time National AAU 440 yard and 400 meter champion in 1964 and 1965
  • Featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school senior on May 10, 1965
(Smith) Carson, Janell
Inducted 2009

Born: May 3, 1947 – Killeen, Texas

Graduated: Fredonia H.S., 1965; Emporia State Teacher’s College, 1969

Overview

Before there was such a thing as organized high school sports for girls in Kansas, there was a young lady named Janell Smith who set records on cinder tracks of southeast Kansas that still have been rarely topped more than four decades later.

Track & Field Career

As a 17-year-old high school junior from Fredonia High School, Smith represented the United States in the 400-meter dash at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Smith was a two-time National AAU 440 yard and 400 meter champion in 1964 and 1965.  Smith was a qualifier for the 1963 Pan American Games at Sao Paulo in the 80 meter hurdles. Her time of 52.3 seconds in the 400 meters still ranks as the best-ever by a high school age girl in Kansas. Coached by her father, Mead Smith, Janell started running when she was 10 years old and competed in her first national meet at age 14. By her late teens, she held several Junior Olympic records, jumping over 19 feet in the long jump, and running just over nine seconds in the 70-yard hurdles. She didn’t start competing in the 400 until one year before the Olympics. She qualified for the semifinals at the Tokyo Games with a time of 55.5, but her American record time of 54.5 in the semifinals left her one-tenth of a second short of qualifying for the finals.

Honors and Achievements

Smith was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school senior on May 10, 1965. Smith also set the World Record for the indoor 400 meters in 1965. After graduating from Emporia State, Smith spent 35 years as a grade school teacher.

 

Click here to see Janell's Kansas Sports Hall of Fame induction speech