Westport is 3,000 miles from LA. We’re more tuned in to who’s up and down on Wall Street than in Hollywood.
So the news that Peter Cramer is the new president of Universal Pictures Studios won’t mean much to “06880” readers.
Unless they realize that — back in the day — Peter Cramer was always called Packy.
Peter “Packy” Cramer
The 1985 Staples High School graduate was a track star and soccer player. He’s been with Universal since 2005, most recently as president of production. In that role the studio achieved record results, including the most profitable year in its history (2014), and the highest grossing domestic and worldwide box office totals of any studio ever (2015).
He led the launch of the Pitch Perfect, Ride Along, Purge, Ted and Neighbors franchises. He also oversaw the highest grossing film in Universal’s history (Jurassic World), and recent hits like Get Out, Lucy, Safe House, Unbroken, Identity Thief, The Visit and Mamma Mia Here We Go Again.
As senior executive vice president of production, he oversaw American Gangster and Ford/Nixon.
Before Universal he worked at New Regency Productions, Daybreak Productions and HBO Films. He started his career at Creative Artists.
Packy — er, Peter — graduated from Harvard University. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their 2 sons.
On Friday, “06880” previewed Henry Wynne’s attempt to break the world 4×1 mile relay. The former Staples High School and University of Virginia track star now runs for the professional Brooks Beast track club.
The race was yesterday, in New York. Many Westporters were on hand to watch Wynne and his teammates not only beat, but absolutely demolish, the world mark. Peter Gambaccini — also a former Wrecker runner, now a noted track journalist — reports:
Westporter Henry Wynne and 3 Brooks Beast track club teammates traveled 3,000 miles and fulfilled their mission by shattering the world record for the 4×1 mile relay by almost 9 seconds on Saturday, clocking a 16:03.68 at the Dr. Norbert Sander Invitational at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York. The quartet broke the old record of 16:12.81 set 2 years ago by the Hoka One One NJ/NY Track Club.
“Winning this race and not getting the record wouldn’t have meant nearly as much,” said Wynne, who established a Connecticut high school mark of 4:05.04 for the mile while at Staples, and has since gotten down to 3:55.23 as a pro with the Seattle-based Brooks team. Wynne ran a 4:02 for the second leg of the relay and gave the Beasts a slight lead in what remained a tight race with the Hoka foursome, before anchorman Izaic Yorks pulled away to give his team a victory by more than 12 seconds.
An extremely animated Wynne bounced up and down on the track, shouting and gesticulating with his arms as he exhorted his last two teammates through the efforts that gave Brooks the triumph and a world best time. At the end, there were plenty of hugs. Brooks Beast coach Danny Mackey’s observation that “Henry’s a team guy” seemed like an understatement.
Henry Wynne and his father, after the race. (Photo/Jeff Mitchel)
“This is just a starting point for what we want to accomplish,” said Wynne. Indeed, he and his 3 relay partners have all broken 4:00 for the mile, and Mackey had declared before the race that the foursome might go under 16:00. With the confidence Saturday’s race brings, that could well be achieved if the team returns to the Armory in 2020.
Wynne, who had a sizable and demonstrative personal cheering section on Saturday, attended the University of Virginia after his Staples years and was the NCAA Indoor mile champion in 2016. In his senior year, his athletic life was undone by a bout of pneumonia and knee surgery.
Mackey couldn’t really know what Wynne’s post-surgery prognosis would be, but was drawn to his personality and believed he’d be “a good fit” for the Brooks Beasts. “He gets the details. Right away, he bought into everyone on the team.”
In 2018, Wynne set career bests for 800 and 5000 meters and the mile. “I owe him a debt of gratitude,” he said of Mackey. “He believed in me when a lot of others didn’t.”
Healthy and again making progress, Henry Wynne can continue paying that debt with his next race: an individual mile at the University of Washington in Seattle in 2 weeks.
Dozens of former Staples High School runners — along with friends and fans from the Westport road race series and Pequot Runners — came from as far as California today to honor Laddie Lawrence, and his 50 years of coaching.
It was supposed to be a surprise. But when you’ve touched as many lives as Laddie, the secret was bound to get out.
Still, it was a wonderful and emotional afternoon. In half a century as the town’s running guru — including not only Staples cross country, indoor and outdoor track, and the summer and fall races, but also Thursday evening age group meets — Laddie has created a community of runners of all ages and abilities.
Former Staples teammates from his Class of 1964 were there. So were rival coaches — and Paul Lane, the former Staples coach who first introduced him to track. Parents came too. But most of all, there were runners, present and (recent and distant) past.
Laddie’s Staples classmate, artist Miggs Burroughs, gave him a special gift: this lenticular photo of him, back in high school and today.
He’s won an insane number of championships. His athletes have become All-Americans, and earned college scholarships. But today was a time for everyone, of every speed, to gather together and say “thanks” to a mentor and friend.
Best of all: This was not goodbye. Laddie is not retiring.
Actually, knowing him, he’ll coach another 50 years.
Laddie Lawrence: forever young, and forever loved.
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