Jim, or Jimmy – but most frequently and affectionately call “Hutch” – ranks as one of the finest athletes and natural runners ever to attend Punahou. Too slight of build (at the time) to play varsity football, a sport he loved, he contented himself by being varsity football manger and turned his athletic talents to winning four letters in track, baseball and basketball during his junior and senior years.This article appears as originally published in the Fall 1986 issue of the Punahou Bulletin.
Basketball was his early forte and he distinguished himself by being recognized as one of the top forwards in the ILH in his junior year. Then, in his senior year, he captained the varsity and won ILH First Team All-Star honors. Virtually unaware of his running ability and somewhat intimidated by the then outstanding talent on the track squad, Hutch spurned track and did not turn out until his senior year – and it was a fluke that he did so. It came about as the result of the efforts of his basketball and baseball coach, Jim Doole, who recognizing Hutch’s speed and agility cajoled him into trying out for the track squad. The rest is history!
He immediately dominated the sprints and the half and one mile relay events. In the 1949 ILH Championships he won first place in both the 100 and 200 yard events and was a member of the winning half mile relay team and then the one mile relay team which set a record that stood for 20 years. That year he participated also in the University of Hawaii’s Rainbow Relays winning the 100 and 400 meter events and then in the Hawaiian AAU Championship Meet where he captured first place in both the 100 and 400 yard sprits. A remarkable showing for a high school athlete.
Hutch went on to Cal-Berkeley where, as a Freshman in 1950, his times in the 220 and 440 events were faster than all varsity times. In 1951, in a meet with Stanford, Hutch won the 440, the 880 and anchored the winning mile relay team. By this time he had national recognition.
Hutch’s junior year, 1952, was an Olympic year and he was expected to make the team. His best event was the 880. Midway through the ’52 season disaster struck. He was spiked in the first turn of a race and according to newspaper accounts…”he still finished third in the race with blood spurting from his ankle”. Unfortunately, the injury was severe and dashed his Olympic hopes. Fortunately, it healed in time for him to return to track in his senior year when he placed second in the Pac-8 880 finals and anchored Cal’s winning one mile relay team.
Returning to Honolulu after graduation, Hutch was soon asked to help coach Punahou’s track teams. Except for one year’s absence, he has served as an assistant track coach at Punahou ever since 1954, a time span of over 30 years. During that period he not only motivated a generation of outstanding Punahou trackmen but also found time to become a successful insurance executive.
As his sponsor wrote, “Jim Hutchinson’s Punahou and Cal-Berkeley achievements alone should qualify him for the Punahou Athletic Hall of Fame. His continued dedication to track and Punahou, puts him in a class by himself”. The “O” Men agree.