Cameron Came Close To Standing Alone

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Cameron Came Close To Standing Alone

Two one-hundredths of a second.

That’s what separated Bert Cameron from standing alone in NCAA history.

Cameron, who competed collegiately for UTEP and hails from Spanish Town, Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica, won back-to-back 400-meter titles at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 1980 and 1981 as well as a third crown in 1983. His victory in 1981 set a meet record of 44.58, which would stand for five years and marked just the third time someone cracked the 45-second barrier in that event in meet history.

Those three titles also made Cameron only the third man in meet history to earn three career titles in the event, joining Hermon Phillips of Butler (1925-1927) and George Rhoden of Morgan State (1950-1952). Look across each NCAA division and that total blossoms to seven men as Larance Jones of Truman (1972-1974) and Myles Pringle (2017-2019) did so at the NCAA DII level and Mike Spangler of Susquehanna (1986 to 1988) and Bobby Young of Lincoln (Pa.) (2005 to 2007) accomplished the feat on the NCAA DIII ranks.

No man ever strung four together – but Cameron came awfully close. In fact, Amber James of NCAA DIII Wheaton (Ma.) is the only athlete in NCAA history with four career outdoor quarter-mile titles to their credit (She also completed the four-year sweep indoors).

The year was 1982 and Cameron entered the NCAA Championships in Provo, Utah, as the two-time defending champion. Also in the race was Kasheef Hassan of Oregon State, a fifth-year senior at the time, who won the title in 1979 and redshirted in 1980. Cameron and Hassan raced against each other in the NCAA final the previous year, where the former established the meet record (Hassan ended up a distant third in 45.31).

“Many fans had predicted the 400 duel between Hassan and Cameron would approach a record, but the strong wind prevented a fast time,” Reid English wrote in the Salem Statesman Journal on June 6, 1982. “It didn’t stop the duel, as the two ran the last 100 meters almost head-to-head. A lunge at the tape earned Hassan the victory.”

The final result read: Kasheef Hassan, Oregon State – 45.47; Bert Cameron, UTEP – 45.49.

Cameron got the last laugh, though; his 12 points helped UTEP win its fifth national team title in a row, a feat that hadn’t been done since Southern California won seven in a row from 1949 to 1955. That would be the Miners’ last outdoor national title and best finish in the past 38 years.

Post-collegiately, Cameron won 400-meter gold at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, and represented Jamaica at three consecutive editions of the Summer Olympics. He carried the Jamaican flag at the opening ceremony of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and left many at a loss for words with his incredible finish in the 400-meter semifinal that year.

Cameron now coaches Jamaica’s 400-meter runners for its national team.

posted: August 6, 2020
1921-2021
The NCAA's First Championships

The NCAA and collegiate track & field will mark a momentous milestone in the spring of 2021 -- the 100th anniversary of the NCAA Championships and with that, the NCAA Track & Field Championships. In June 1921, the University of Chicago hosted the first track & field championships in NCAA history.

This point can’t be emphasized enough: Not only was the event the first for NCAA track & field, but the first championships for any sport under the sponsorship of the NCAA.

To celebrate, over each of the next 365 days, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) will celebrate moments, student-athletes, and coaches that have made a century’s worth of championships special. From humble beginnings to important historical milestones to the modern-day, collegiate track & field has evolved with the American society.

The 2021 edition of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships begin with preliminary round action on May 27-29 in Jacksonville, Fla., and College Station, Texas. The championships final site and culmination of the celebration is slated for June 9-12, 2021 at the newly rebuilt Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Memorable Moments
SMU’s Ezeh Hammered Out Greatness

Florence Ezeh is the only woman in the history of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships to win three hammer throw titles in a career.

The Tie Goes To The Buckeye

Dave Albritton of Ohio State won three consecutive high jump titles at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships & remains one of just two men to do so.