This year’s inductee in the Old-Timers category (pre-1950) is Ervan Levine, Suffern High School class of 1937. Levine was blessed with an abundance of one athletic attribute: speed. Raw, whippet-like speed. He parlayed that talent into one of the premier sprinting careers in Rockland County in the first half of this century.
For three straight years – 1935, 1936 and 1937 – he was undefeated in the 100- and 220-yard dashes. His 100-yard dash time of 10 seconds flat – recorded three times over two years – remained the Suffern High School record for 36 years. It was tied in 1961 and ‘64 but not broken until Mark Connors sped 9.9 in 1972.
In 1936, the Suffern Wildcats (the nickname “ Mountaineers “ or “Mounties” would come later), led by Levine, finished undefeated in dual-meet competition. At the Rockland County Championships at Tallman Mountain State Park, Levine won the 100 and 220 and ran on the winning sprint medley relay to pace Suffern to the team title. Suffern and Congers actually had the same number of points but Suffern was awarded the victory based on a greater number of first-place finishers. Levine repeated as Rockland County 100 and 220 champ his senior year. That year he posted personal best times of 10.0 for 100, 22.9 for 220 and 53 seconds in the 440.
Just as blazers like Bob Hayes and Willie Gault used their track speed to make an impact on the football gridiron, so too did Ervan Levine leave defenders trailing in his wake. As a running back with pedal-to-the- metal speed, Levine scored on touchdown gallops of 72, 64, 43 and 38 yards, according to newspaper and oral accounts. Suffern’s football coach at the time, Ed Greene – who is also in the Rockland Hall of Fame – even bought custom made lightweight shoulder pads and football cleats for “Swervin” Ervan.
Levine later earned a track scholarship to New York University. He went on to star in amateur competition for the Valkyrie Athletic Club of Spring Valley, bringing his 100- yard dash time down to 9.9 seconds. He excelled in meets held in such places as Newburgh, West Point, Westchester County, New York City and other parts of the metropolitan region. Harry Jackson of Spring Valley, a Rockland Hall of Fame trackman, called Levine the top sprinter of his era in the county.