FAMU’s legendary 1968 Relay Team enshrined into Penn Relays Wall of Fame

FAMU Relay team honored at Penn Relays.
FAMU Relay team honored at Penn Relays.(Vaughn Wilson)
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 5:35 PM EDT|Updated: May. 10, 2022 at 5:36 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Four former Florida A&M University track stars were honored at the 126th running of the Penn Relays for their performances at the event from 1966 to 1968.

James Ashcroft, Major Hazelton, Nathaniel James, and Eugene Milton were the guests of honor at the 2022 event as they were enshrined into the University of Pennsylvania Relay Carnival Wall of Fame. These athletes played football for the same coach, Jake Gaither, and they all ran track for Bobby Lang.

“Coach Lang was like a father to us. He groomed us with tough love, but he and Mrs. Lang were the best,” Ashcroft said.

They practiced football and track and field, which is part of the reason they worked so well together as a team, leading to their consecutive victories. They won the 440-relay team race for the third consecutive year in 1968. The team won those races with the same four runners, which is why they were honored, the press release says.

The FAMU 440-relay team, from left: James Ashcroft, Eugene Milton, Major Hazelton, Nathaniel...
The FAMU 440-relay team, from left: James Ashcroft, Eugene Milton, Major Hazelton, Nathaniel James and coach Bobby Lang. (Vaughn Wilson | FAMU)

“When we started having success in the 440 relays, it made us work harder because we wanted to do better,” Ashcroft said.

In the 1960s, Florida Gov. Claude Kirk was a fan of the Florida A&M team and had sent cases of oranges to the venue to congratulate the team when they won. Gov. Kirk instructed the team to throw oranges to the crowd to celebrate their victory.

“I’ll never forget when y’all were throwing out those oranges,” Milton said.

All four members of the relay team are members of the FAMU Sports Hall of Fame. The 1968 team will also be recognized at the 2022 FAMU Sports Hall of Fame ceremony slated for Sept. 9, 2022.

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