James Hollister’s reputation precedes itself. Serving 47 years as the track and field coach at Turlock Junior High, his name is synonymous with running and fitness by most in Turlock.
But while multiple generations of Turlockers might recognize Hollister as coach, some might not realize that he still competes in multiple events and competitions across the country.
Recently, Hollister took part in the Masters Indoor National Championships in Boston, Mass., where he competed in the 60m hurdles, long jump, and triple jump of the 65-69 year old age bracket. He placed 1st, 3rd, and 4th, respectively.
“I just want to try to be the best I can be for me,” Hollister said.
Hollister’s appearance at the Masters Indoor National Championships — an annual event that welcomes athletes from across the country, age 30 and up, to compete within five-year age brackets — marked the return to the competition for the Turlocker after a four year hiatus due to an injury.
“There were 90-years olds there, and a lot of the Olympians who compete and just got out of the Olympics, they may come back and still run. A lot of our Olympic hurdlers are there in their age groups,” Hollister said of his fellow competitors.
After developing a passion for track and field at Lincoln High School in San Jose and later at North West Nazarene College in Idaho, Hollister started his athletic career as an adult at age 39 when he competed in the decathlon of that year’s Masters Championships in Merced, setting what was then a world record for his age group in the process.
Four years ago, in his last competition before this year’s return, Hollister nearly nabbed another world record, this time in the 60m hurdles of the 65-69 year old age bracket.
“I was trying to set the world record that year for the hurdles and I missed it by .04, and the guy who beat me, Ty Brown, set a new world record,” Hollister said.
Now, with his body back into running shape, Hollister is looking towards next year’s Masters Championships where he hopes to again earn the title of world record holder by breaking the time of 9.89 in the 60m hurdles of the 70-74 year old bracket.
“I think I got it in me if my knees will stay healthy enough to let me compete,” Hollister said. “I’ve run faster than that so I think I can break it.”
In the meantime, with a year between him and his goal, Hollister will continue to do what he’s done for the past 47 years; coaching teenagers out on the track and leading by example.