The 41st inductee into the South Dakota State University Athletic Hall of Fame was, in a sense, a specialist.
Larry Frank, who competed on the Jackrabbit track team from 1969-72, won seven North Central Conference championships in one event — the pole vault. He also was a national champion in the event, winning the outdoor title in 1970.
But Frank could do other things. For one, he was ahead of his time. The decathlon was just starting to gain popularity but was not a North Central Conference event. Still, he left SDSU with a school record 6,871 points set at the 1972 Drake Relays.
In addition to the pole vault, Frank's other bests included: 10.0 seconds in the 100-yard dash, 6-4 in the high jump, 23-feet in the long jump, 45-10 in the triple jump, 14.8 seconds in the high hurdles, 51.0 seconds in the 440 (50.4 in the 400 meters) and 2:06 in the 880.
For another, he ran on school-record teams in the 440- and 480-yard shuttle hurdle relays. The 440 team of Robbin Bong, Larry Frank, Rob Wahlstrom and John Fillaus ran 42.3 seconds at the 1971 Drake Relays.
It was in the pole vault where Frank was exceptional. He won the NCC indoor title four times, including a conference record 15-9 in 1970, and claimed the outdoor title three times, including a meet record 16-0 1/2 in 1970. More often than not, his closest competitor his first two seasons was a teammate, Rick Moon, who won the only NCC title Frank missed (outdoors, 1969). While Moon left SDSU holding the Jackrabbit outdoor record at 16-1, set in a dual meet with Mankato in 1970, Frank held the North Central Conference outdoor meet record. He set an NCC indoor record at 15-9 as a sophomore. Frank's NCC outdoor record lasted until 1982 while his indoor record was broken in 1975.
Frank won the NCAA College Division outdoor pole vault title in 1970, clearing 16-feet. He was an All-American in the pole vault outdoors three times (sixth in 1969, first in 1970, 3rd in 1971). "I actually tied for second in 1971, but lost a coin flip and ended up with the third place medal," he said. He also won the Canadian Indoor Championship.
Without a doubt one of the finest pole vaulters South Dakota has ever produced, Frank graduated from Winner High School and in 1968 competed in the National Junior Olympics in Eugene, Oregon. He finished fourth, becoming the first South Dakotan ever to place in the meet. His high school best was 14-4, a state record at the time, and he was the first South Dakotan to clear 16-feet.
In addition to competing for the Jackrabbits under the guidance of coaches Aubrey Dooley and Jay Dirksen, Frank was enrolled in Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at SDSU and, in 1972, was the cadet commander of the wing. After graduating from SDSU in 1972, Frank spent four years in the Air Force stationed in Tacoma, Wash., and Honolulu, Hawaii.
While in the military, he also completed a master's degree in systems technology management from the University of Southern California. He left the Air Force in 1976 and joined Ralston-Purina in St. Louis where he started his career in software development.
Two years later, he moved to Houston, where he worked for United Energy Resources as a project manager in their information technology department. In 1979, he moved to Phoenix and began a 21-year career with Motorola, where he was director of information systems and finally director of business development and marketing for the company's global electronic commerce group. He left Motorola in 2001 to start an international consulting company specializing in financial settlement and education management software.