Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lyndhurst's Spino Went the Distance

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lyndhurst's Spino Went the Distance

Article excerpt

Looking back more than 50 years later, Michael Spino's memories of competing for Lyndhurst extend beyond results. As much as his success means to him, the support he received from the community means just as much.

"It was an inspirational place to live in those days," Spino said.

While his running career began in Lyndhurst, the 71-year-old has affected runners internationally ever since. Spino, currently an adjunct professor at Georgia State University, has mentored runners and coaches using philosophies and skills he learned as a young athlete.

Yet before he became a renowned figure in track, Spino was a talented athlete who excelled at basketball before focusing on running. Lyndhurst did not have a cross-country team, so Spino traveled to meets on his own and piled up honors.

Spino won the Bergen County championship in 1961, and continued to develop as a runner throughout his senior year. Competing for the track and field team in the spring, he ran the mile in 4:25 to set a school record.

Then he shaved three seconds off that time at the state meet.

"I had a lot of talent running," Spino said. "I don't know exactly where it came from. I trained hard."

It all paid off when he earned a full scholarship to Syracuse, where he competed against some of the best runners in the country.

Following graduation, Spino moved to Los Angeles to try and qualify for the 1968 Olympics. While he didn't make the team, the experience turned out to be pivotal.

Spino trained with Mihaly Igloi, a Hungarian distance coach whose runners broke 49 world records and 45 American records.

"He was just at Santa Monica High School, and anybody could go and ask to train with him," Spino said. "He had this really complex system of intervals and sets and things like that."

Spino then began a career in education and coaching, where he combined his experiences with the methods he learned from some of his mentors, including Igloi. …

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