For years, legendary college football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg was a sponsor of nationwide competition in basketball and track and field for high school athletes. The track event was held annually at the University of Chicago, and ran from 1902 to 1933.
In 1915, Carl Johnson, a senior at Lewis and Clark, and Evan Pearson, a 19-year-old sophomore from North Central, were dominating track meets in the local area. Pearson had lost two years of school and competition due to typhoid fever. He recovered well enough to run a 10.0 100-yard dash, while Johnson had a 22-6 ½ broad jump. Both were Northwest and Pacific Coast records.
With those marks, both young men were invited to participate against 600 other high school athletes, representing over 150 schools, at the University of Chicago on June 12.
Spokane responded generously to fund the trip for the boys. Enough money was raised for their high school coaches, Emil Hinderman of LC, and Arthur Woodward of NC, to accompany them.
Both boys represented their home town well. Pearson won the 100 and was second in the 220 and 440. Johnson took the broad jump with a leap of 23 4½ inches, missing the then national record by 7/8th of an inch. He was also second in the 220 low hurdles and 4th in the high jump. Pearson, with 13 individual points, took second in the final point summary among all participants. Johnson tallied 11.
In 1916, Pearson returned to Chicago, He had run the 100 in May in a time recorded at 9 4/5 seconds, a national record. That number was later recognized by the national association as 9.8, tying him with two others for the record. He finished third in the national meet that year, scoring 11 points and finishing second in two events. He was named to the All-American Interscholastic track and field team.
In 1917 Pearson dropped out of school, bringing an abrupt end to his spectacular track career.