He got the baton 15 yards behind in the 880-yard relay, passed three runners as if they were small speed bumps, anchored the victory and scored 15 of Southeastern’s 44 points in the track meet.
Charles Gulley ran himself into the Southeastern record book with crazy-fast times in the 100-yard dash, setting the school record in a blazing 9.35 seconds.
That record lasted until the next year when the Idabel Flyer, also known as Rex and LBJ, covered the 100 in 9.3 seconds.
Gulley will be inducted into the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 25, in the Visual and Performing Arts Center.
Given today’s nutrition and training methods, he might have finished the 100 about 0.03 seconds before he started.
Gully graduated from Idabel’s Gray High School in 1969 where he lettered in football, basketball and track and also played summer baseball.
He was named All-Conference in football and track.
Savage football head coach Duke Christian said, “Gulley started as a track guy playing football, but he became a football player. He could run so well and he still made lots of improvement. He just kept working and became a legitimate wide receiver who demanded respect from the defense.
“One thing I remember is that he always had a big smile on his face.”
Gulley recalled rushing for 170 yards and two touchdowns against Atoka and scoring 15 points for high-point honors in a Class 3A Regional track meet at Ada.
He was an outstanding football player, but he was off the charts on the track. He ran the 100- and 220-yard dashes, broad jumped and ran the relays.
“I did not like the mile relay,” Gulley said, “because I hated the quarter mile.”
At Southeastern, he absolutely owned the 100- and 220-yard dashes during his career. Along with his record 9.3 time in the 100, Gulley clocked 21.3 in the 220 and 6.1 in the 60-yard dash.
No stranger to High Point and Outstanding Performer awards at various track meets, Gully recalls with great pleasure a meet at Austin College.
Gulley said, “The 100-yard dash was called a “Hully Gulley” finish because I was running against my brother, Thomas.”
Along with scoring 15 points and being named High Point Man and Outstanding Performer of the meet, he also won the 100 title as Thomas ran a 9.7 to LBJ’s 9.6.
Gulley scored 13.5 points in his freshman year to claim the Outstanding Individual award in the conference track meet and went on to make it three in a row for that honor.
He was Southeastern’s first track All-America (1972) and honored as Southeastern’s Athlete of the Year for 1972-73.
The Idabel Flyer was an obvious nickname since he was from Idabel and he could fly. Gulley thinks track coach Clyde Smith called him Rex, but nobody seems to know why.
LBJ is another story. That moniker came from classmate Thomas Varner.
“We used to call him TC,” Gully said. “He didn’t play football, but he was definitely one of the guys. TC called me LBJ and said it stood for Little Black Jetaway. That was fine with me.”
To verify the appropriateness of the nickname LBJ, please check with the runners who finished second in those races.
Gulley won the 60-yard dash in the Oklahoma City indoor track competition with a meet record of 6.1 seconds in back-to-back seasons.
A difference-maker on the football field, Gulley recalled the first conference game of 1972.
“Coach Duke Christian put me in the backfield and called my number off tackle,” Gulley said. “I went 61 yards to tie the game and we won it on a field goal.
“One of our first games in my freshman year was against Langston. Quarterback Johnny Macejewski hit me on a 66-yard post pattern before halftime to tie the game at 7-7. After halftime, the D-back was playing me 15 yards off and Johnny changed the play to a 5-yard out route, right 74.
“The result was one fake and an 80-yard touchdown.”
Gulley earned his Bachelor of Science in Education in 1975 and went into the food service business. He lives in Muskogee with wife Susan D’Errico and they will have been married nine years this month.
He was smooth on the track and football field, not always so smooth otherwise.
He met Susan in a Family Dollar store and noticed she had a hole in the back of her jeans.
“I pointed that out to her,” Gulley said. “It must have been a great pick-up line because were married about two months later.
Gulley is now doing affiliate marketing and food service management. He has served as supervisor, director of operations and general manager for several companies.
He coached football, baseball and soccer eight years in the Oklahoma City Parks League, then coached upward in the church league.
“Thirty years is a long time to wait for something you feel you deserve,” Gulley said. “I am happy that my father told me the story of Job.
“In 1969, my freshman year, I discovered Durant was an all-white town, the same as when I crossed the tracks (in Idabel).
“The Hall of Fame is a great honor. Words can’t say how I feel. This puts me in great company with some great athletes. My time at Southeastern allowed me to develop life-time relationships that have lasted over the years.
“I met a lot of great people and it was a wonderful time in my life. My first son was born in Durant’s Bryan Memorial Hospital. I think he was the first black baby born there.
“Something odd, going to the bathroom my freshman year at the conference track meet and saying a prayer, not to win, but to just do my best.
“I guess God knew my best was good enough.”
Gulley hasn’t forgotten people who helped him along the way. He mentioned track teammates Leon Douglas, Clarence Hudson, Irrington Isaacs and coaches Clyde Smith and Joe McNulty. On the football side, he named players Eddie Scott, James Reed, Hudson, Lavon Hicks and coaches Duke Christian, Red Rutherford and Smith.
Charles Gulley will be inducted into the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Athletics Hall of Fame at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, August 25.
A reception for the four inductees will begin at 4:30. Joining Charles will be Natalie Brown-Cooksey (basketball), Kent Samuel (golf) and Cary Ammons (baseball).