Spike Paranya

Stephen "Spike" Paranya '61

Spike Paranya was Wesleyan’s dominant track and cross-country star between 1957 and 1961.  He set the stage for the subsequent Galloway, Burfoot and Rogers’s era of the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s.

During his varsity years, he led the Wesleyan track team to three straight Little Three titles.  In 1960, Spike set the Wesleyan record for 1,500 meters at 3:50.0, captured his first New England Championship in the mile and nearly made the Olympic Trials.  In the winter of his senior year (1961) he won the prestigious IC4A mile at Madison Square Garden.  That spring he also won the mile (setting a meet record of 4:10.8) and half-mile titles at the New England Track and Field Championships, and he captained an 8-0 Little Three champion track squad.  He finished his track career in the 1961 NCAA Championships in Philadelphia by defeating milers from Oregon, UCLA, Penn State, Ohio State, Arizona State and Harvard while setting the Wesleyan mile record at 4:07:0.  It still stands 50 years later.

Spike was similarly productive in cross country.  In his sophomore year (1958) he consistently placed among Wesleyan’s top three finishers on a 6-1 team that won Wesleyan’s third straight Little Three title.  He placed 21st in New England that year. In 1960 Spike set a course record on Wesleyan’s 4.3-mile trail (21:28) bettering the old mark by 27 seconds and finished second in New England. 

Spike is justly proud of his children.  Gretchen, Wesleyan ’96, holds Wesleyan’s indoor and outdoor women’s high-jump records and earned All-America honors in both events.   His son Karl, Haverford class of 1997, was a nine-time NCAA Division III cross-country/track champion and the first Division III runner to crack the four-minute mile barrier (3:57.6).