Ernie Bastian

Class of 1934 - Track & Cross Country

The Milwaukee area was the hub of Wisconsin high school middle distance runners in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s.  The greatest of all might have been Wauwatosa’s Ernie Bastian.  A multiple letter winner in both cross country and track, Ernie was captain of both squads.   As a harrier, he captured first place medals in every meet except one, a race he lost to his arch nemesis.   Known for his aggressive running style, going out hard and not relinquishing the lead, Bastian got a chance to avenge his only loss at the 1934 State Cross Country Meet.  In a race that would have fans talking for years, Bastian got off to his usual early lead.  His frenetic pace held off all but his nemesis, who, with a ferocious kick, caught Ernie at the tape to win by just inches.  It was as a miler on the track team that Bastian made his reputation.  With his jet black hair, muscular build, and relentless gait, Ernie lost only one mile race in his career, and that was when he was disqualified for pushing in a dual meet against West Allis.  His winning time of 4.27.2 in the 1934 State Championship beat the existing state record by 10 full seconds and remained the state record for the next 26 years.   In 1934, the Suburban Conference Championships were held a week after the state meet.  The Waukesha stadium was filled as fans gathered to watch the featured event; state record holder Ernie Bastian in the mile run.  Ernie didn’t disappoint, winning another conference championship in record setting fashion.  His winning time of 4.26.0 was not only faster than his state record, but came within 2.4 seconds of the national interscholastic record.  Ernie Bastian, Wauwatosa miler, was Wisconsin’s best high school miler of his generation.


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