Kirk Marshall Clayton – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Track and Field, 1964-70
Xavier Prep/Grambling State/San Jose State
Track and field standout Kirk Marshall Clayton attended Woodson Junior High and Xavier Prep High School in New Orleans before transferring to Scotlandville High School in Baton Rouge where he set the national prep record with a 9.4 mark in the 100-yard dash. His abilities keyed Scotlandville’s LIALO state championship in 1965.
Clayton enrolled at Grambling after graduation and became an instant success, posting the national collegiate freshman record in the 100-yard dash with a time of 9.3 seconds. Also in 1967, he was a member of the Santa Clara Valley Youth Village 440-yard relay team which set an American record with a mark of 39.5 seconds.
Clayton transferred to San Jose State to further his track career by competing for Bud Winter’s legendary “Speed City” teams – a grouping of many of the top sprinters in the country, including many Olympians. He was an AAU All-American in 1968 and 1969. In 1970, he broke Barney Ecwell’s 31-year old indoor world record in the men’s 50-yard dash with a 5.0 second time in Calgary, Canada. He was also captain of the 1969 San Jose State team that won the NCAA Track and Field Championship in Knoxville, Tenn. The Spartans 4×440 yard relay team of Clayton, Sam Davis, Ronnie Ray Smith and John Carlos also won the national championship with a time of 39.1 seconds. Smith and Carlos were both Olympic Gold Medalists in 1968.
Clayton also qualified for the 1968 U.S. Olympic Trials, finishing fifth in the 100-meter dash – a position that would have earned him a slot on the national team by current standards (2015).
He has also been inducted into San Jose State’s Athletics Hall of Fame.