The words were written in The Daily Pennsylvanian in April 1969: “Sophomore Ken Dietz is the best discus man in Pennsylvania track & field history.” That quote came on the heels of his fourth collegiate varsity meet, when Ken broke the school record in the discus -- and, amazingly, it could be argued that the statement still holds true today. Ken’s best throw from that year (181 feet, 8 inches) held up for 25 years until it was finally broken, and nearly 40 years later Chuck Hinton’s 1994 record toss (183-2) remains the only one to surpass Ken’s prolific sophomore effort.
After competing on Penn’s freshman team in 1968, Ken was a three-time Heptagonal champion and first-team All-Ivy in the discus in 1969, 1970 and 1971 -- a trifecta has been pulled off only one other time since then -- and he never lost to an Ivy Leaguer during his four years on campus.
Ken also served as a captain on Penn’s 1971 team that swept the indoor and outdoor Heptagonal titles, the genesis of a 10-year period (1971-80) that saw the program win Outdoor Heps all but one year. Ken also earned All-East with top-three finishes at the IC4A Championships in the discus each of his varsity seasons, and was an NCAA finalist as a sophomore and national qualifier as a junior and senior. Internationally, he made a splash at the 1969 World Maccabiah Games in Israel, winning the gold medal in his event.
Prior to his enrollment at Penn, Ken made a name for himself by breaking the New York schoolboy record in the discus -- a mark held at the time by Al Oerter, who was in the process of winning his fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in the event. Ken added to his Penn track legacy in 2002 when he created a website dedicated to men’s track & field alumni, www.pennalumnitrack.com. After a five-year stint overseeing that site, he turned it over to, in his words, “more tech-savvy alums.”