Former Kansas Runner Bob Karnes Dies

July 13, 2007

MESA, Ariz. –

Former Kansas distance runner Bob Karnes lost his battle with cancer early Thursday morning. Karnes was 81.

Karnes was one of the top distance runners in Jayhawk history. He won more conference track and field (10) and cross country (three) titles, 13, than any man in the school’s history. He served as the captain for numerous Jayhawk teams, including the 1949 and 1950 track and field squads.

Karnes was a two-time NCAA All-American in cross country (1947 and 1948) and his 13 league crowns topped the records of the legendary Glenn Cunningham, Jim Ryun and Wes Santee.

He was also a two-time winner of the Henry Schulte Trophy, given to the conference’s Outstanding Track and Field athlete.

The Overbrook, Kan., native was Drake’s athletic director from 1968 until his retirement on Aug. 31, 1986. Karnes served as head track and field coach, athletic director and Drake Relays director. Karnes’ teams won 15 Missouri Valley Conference titles, more than any other Drake coach in any sport.

Karnes graduated from Kansas in 1950 and went on to receive a master’s of science degree in at Drake in 1967. After service in the U.S. Navy during World War II from 1943-46, he joined the naval reserve and was a retired Captain.