Hall of Fame Class of 1988
William Samuel "Willie" Steele (July 14, 1923 - September 19, 1989)
Willie Steele attended Hoover High School in San Diego, where as a senior in 1941 he jumped 24 feet, 3/4 inches (24-00.75) at the Southern Section Championships... That mark qualified him for the California State Meet at San Jose State College, where he took second with a 23-03.50 leap... He then competed as a freshman at SJSC in 1942, where he long jumped 25-08.00... After his first year of college, Steele enlisted in the military and fought in World War II... At the conclusion of the war, he moved back to San Diego, where he resumed his college studies and track and field career at San Diego State in 1946 under Aztec Hall of Fame coach Charles Peterson... That year he was the conference champion with a 23-06.50 mark and won the AAU National Championship with a 24-00.25 leap... His longest jump in 1946 was 25-01.875 - a school record... In 1947, after Charles "Choc" Sportsman became the track and field coach, Steele won the 1947 NCAA Track and Field Long Jump Championship with a 26-06.00 leap that broke Jesse Owens' NCAA record by over four inches... He went on\to win the AAU National Championship again in 1947 with a 24-09.25 jump... In 1948, Steele won the 1948 NCAA Track and Field Long Jump Championship (24-11.25) as well as the 1948 U.S. Olympic Trials (26-02.25)... He went onto win the gold medal at the 1948 Olympics (25-08.00)... Steele was the first Aztec to win an Olympic medal... He also batted .317 for the Aztec baseball team and was a center on the basketball squad... An Olympic gold medal winner, three-time national champion, and two-time NCAA All-American, Steele won the long jump title 27 times in the 29 major track meets in which he competed... He was inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions in 1958 and the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2009.