The legacy of Olympian Archie San Romani lives on through Frontenac's athletes, community members

FRONTENAC, Kan. — Archie San Romani is one of the most successful athletes in Frontenac’s history. The track star established himself as one of the top milers in the world during the latter half of the 1930s. But over time, his remarkable story seemed to be somewhat forgotten.

It’s been almost 90 years since track legend Archie San Romani left his mark on the Frontenac High School track and field program.

“It’s a pretty like elite group of people that have been to the Olympics,” said member of the Frontenac High School track and field team Tallon Bonine. “So I mean, to have somebody like that from our town that’s been and be able to chase after that record is pretty cool.”

The school record San Romani set in the mile back in 1932 has yet to be broken.

“We’re proud of our record board here in the track program and we stress to our kids, you know, let’s try to get up there if we can get up there,” said Frontenac Assistant track and field coach John Palubo. “That’s why records are made.”

It’s something the program’s middle distance runners have been chasing ever since.

“It’s a good motivation to chase after an Olympic athlete,” said member of the Frontenac High School track and field team Brady Stanley. “To know that that’s where the bar is set and that’s where you have to go.”

While his record, pictures and plaques hang in the halls at Frontenac high school, outside of the track and field program, the legacy of San Romani — a national champion and Olympian faded over time.

Once his career ended and his family moved away from Frontenac, his story became less known, even in his hometown.

“He lived away you know, and then when his mom and dad passed away, there was really no family left around here anymore,” said John Kotzman, who lived near the San Romani family when he was young. “So, a lot of the up and coming young kids that went to Frontenac schools really never heard of him.”

He wanted to make sure San Romani’s contributions to the sport were know beyond just his hometown.
So he helped get San Romani inducted into the Kansas sports hall of fame in 2004.

“It’s a tribute to what he accomplished,” said Kotzman. “It’s good to keep those things. I think it’s very important for the heritage of the town.”

From a virtually unknown runner to all-time great miler, the journey of Archie San Romani embodies the spirit of the small coal mining town that shaped him. That spirit still exists in today’s athletes looking to break his longstanding record.

“It’s gonna happen eventually,” said Palumbo. “Someone’s gonna get it. We tell them why not you?”

San Romani is a perfect example of that. He spent his entire track career defying the odds. Whether his record ever gets broken and matter how much time passes, he’ll always be remembered as a champion, an Olympian and beloved son of Frontenac.

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