Harry Cloudman '01 (1901)

The finest athlete of his era, and perhaps the best that Bowdoin has ever produced, Harry Cloudman left a lasting impression on generations of Polar Bears for his athletic prowess.

A native of Gorham, Cloudman arrived on campus in 1897 and was a sight to behold, standing nearly 6’2” and weighing 180 pounds—massive in comparison to his contemporaries—and there wasn’t an athletic discipline in which he did not excel. In a freshman track meet against Colby, Cloudman won the 100-yard dash, the 220, the long jump, and the hammer throw, all while placing second in the shot put and third in the high jump. He was an offensive lineman on the football team for four years, and was once called the fastest guard in the country by legendary football coach Walter Camp.

The national press referred to Cloudman as the “Bowdoin phenomenon,” and he was. Cloudman also played baseball, was on the fencing squad, and was the anchorman on the relay team.

In the Maine StateMeet in 1899 he set a new record of 9.8 seconds in the 100-yard dash, tying the world record. The time was since matched by Howard Mostrum ’27 and Gordon Milliken ’53, but it has never been bettered. It is the longest-standing athletic record at Bowdoin, and it will not be surpassed, since track and field events transitioned to the metric system in the 1970s.

For two consecutive years—1900 and 1901— Cloudman won the 100-yard dash, the 220-yard dash, and the long jump at the New England Championships. Without the benefit of a starting block and running on rain-soaked tracks, Cloudman tied the meet record for the 100, set a new standard in the 220, and  shattered the long jump mark. On the national stage in 1900, at the collegiate national championships held in New York, Cloudman placed fourth in the 220-yard dash; and in 1901 he placed third in the 220-yard dash, losing the national title by just two yards on a rain-soaked track that, in places, was under two inches of water. In that same championship meet Cloudman also garnered the fourth-place medal in the long jump.

From 1902 to 1908, Cloudman was the director of physical education at the University of Vermont and earned a medical degree at the institution in 1905. In 1909 he became the director of health for the Oklahoma City school system, where he had a medical practice. Cloudman served in the Army Medical Corps during World War I and World War II.