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home : sports : sports May 25, 2016


1/13/2013 6:01:00 AM
Esquibel backed up his talk on the track
KHS athlete of late 1950s got his start when he challenged coach
Photo Courtesy of the Mohave County Museum 
Frankie Esquibel, left and Tom McCraley. Combined they broke six records in the running events at the Northern Arizona Championship in 1958.
Photo Courtesy of the Mohave County Museum
Frankie Esquibel, left and Tom McCraley. Combined they broke six records in the running events at the Northern Arizona Championship in 1958.
Photo Courtesy of the Mohave County Museum 
The 1958 Kingman High track team consisted of (back row) coach Curtis Twenter, Sam Standerfer, Frankie Esquibel, Tom McCraley, Sonny Medina, Mark Dunham. Front row Jerry Janc, Mike Glancy, Steve Davis and Ron Wienke. Not pictured are returning lettermen Ken Boyd, Sonny Alvarado, Fermin Esquibel, Joe Williams, John Thorup, Don Jennings, Jack Holden and Jerry Patterson.
Photo Courtesy of the Mohave County Museum
The 1958 Kingman High track team consisted of (back row) coach Curtis Twenter, Sam Standerfer, Frankie Esquibel, Tom McCraley, Sonny Medina, Mark Dunham. Front row Jerry Janc, Mike Glancy, Steve Davis and Ron Wienke. Not pictured are returning lettermen Ken Boyd, Sonny Alvarado, Fermin Esquibel, Joe Williams, John Thorup, Don Jennings, Jack Holden and Jerry Patterson.

Rodney Haas
Miner Sports Reporter


Sonny Alvarado and his friend Frankie Esquibel had just finished baseball practice when they decided to watch the Kingman High track team.

The two were sophomores at KHS in the mid-1950s that day when Frankie decided to issue a challenge to the track and field coach.

"We were hanging around and Frankie told the coach, 'I can beat your top runner you have there,'" Alvarado recalled. "So the coach picked up an old pair of track shoes that were too big for (Frankie), and he put them on and ran the half-mile and beat those guys.

The coach said, 'You're going to run track now!'"

What began as an idle boast turned out to be Esquibel's calling. In his senior year at KHS in 1958, he set four records at the Northern Arizona Conference meet in Flagstaff and took first in the mile and two sprints - the 220 and 440 - to lead the Bulldogs to the title.

"Frankie used to like to challenge everybody," Alvarado said. "When we were down in the valley he would say, 'Watch, I'm going to beat those guys.' OK."

Esquibel passed away on Dec. 23. He was 73. A rosary service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary's Catholic Church followed by burial at Mountain View Cemetery.

Esquibel was born on March 17, 1939, and grew up in Kingman, attending St. Mary's Parochial School where he and Alvarado forged a life-long friendship. Esquibel participated in Little League and played basketball at St. Mary's before attending Kingman High.

In addition to excelling on the track team, he was an offensive and defensive back on the 1956 Bulldog football team that won the Northern Arizona championship, and whose only loss came in a 12-6 defeat against Las Vegas Bishop Gorman.

"I was in junior high when Frankie was on the KHS track squad," said Chuck Cook, whose father Charles was the head football coach in 1956. "Frankie and the athletes at KHS during the late 50s were our heroes."

At the time Kingman only had four varsity sports, football, baseball, basketball and track, and no girls sports. Today, KHS offers 19 sports, thanks in large part to the nine girls sports that was a direct result of the 1972 federal law known as Title IX.

"We loved sports, otherwise high school would've been boring to us," Alvarado said. "We played all the sports they had. We practiced baseball and then we would switched over and did track."

When Alvarado and Esquibel ran track, they didn't have the good fortune of running on the synthetic surfaces that today's athletes compete on. Instead, the tracks consisted of dirt, gravel and weeds, and when it rained they were expected to run through the mud.

"If they had (today's track surfaces) in those days, there would be a lot better times," said Cook, who also serves as the Bulldogs unofficial historian. "You were lucky if you were a mile runner in those days and broke five minutes. A lot of meets were won at five minutes or 4:55 and stuff like that."

In 1958, Esquibel established a new record in the mile at the Luke Greenway relays by running a 4:35. It was a record that later on in life would cement his place in the Greenway Invitational Track and Field Hall of Fame.

"We didn't have the training facilities that we have now," Alvarado said. "If we would've had those facilities, he probably would've broke many records."

After graduating from KHS, Esquibel was offered a full scholarship to Arizona State University and attended there a few years before transferring to Northern Arizona.

After attending NAU, Esquibel returned to Kingman where he settled down.

"Frankie was a special guy," Alvarado said. "Rest in peace my friend."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Great article! Thanks for the wonderful memories. Brought tears to my eyes. In this crazy, upside down world we are in now, it is so nice to be able to reflect back to the peace and happiness of the 50's in this small town of which the Esquibels and Alvarados were a contributing part. In fact, all the men in these pictures were great. Some gone way too early.

Rest in peace Frankie! As I previously said, it was a privilege to watch Frankie run. He was that good. And like his folks and siblings, he was just one nice guy...and funny.

And in defense of the girls, we didn't sit around and do nothing. I was in HS 1958-61 and we did run track, jumped hurdles (where Susie Wilson snapped her leg next to me), we had archery, baseball and GAA (Girls Athletic Assn) played volleyball at night in the old girls gym and the townspeople came to watch. So we did get a little exercise in.

And we learned to cook and sew. Thank you Mrs. Hull! Jerry Janc in the bottom picture was in our Home Ec class and made darned good muffins. :)


Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Article comment by: Fellow Kingmanite

Excellent article. Enjoyed reading about the long-time friendships & what it was like growing up in Kingman. More remembrances like this would be appreciated!

Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Article comment by: RW Fanire

I knew Frankie well . He worked for my folks for many years .
He was indeed a fine man . Quick with a joke and always had a smile on his face .
Frankie will be sorely missed by all of those who knew him .


Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Article comment by: Laurie Voss Barthlow

Great piece! Rest in peace, Mr. Esquibel.



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