Princeton’s Bonthron Beat WR Holder In 1934 NCAA Mile

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Princeton’s Bonthron Beat WR Holder In 1934 NCAA Mile

Revenge was fresh on Bill Bonthron’s mind as Princeton made its first trip to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Just a week earlier, Bonthron lost his American record in the mile when Glenn Cunningham of Kansas topped that with a world record of 4:06.8 in a highly-anticipated invitational race at Princeton’s former Palmer Stadium.

Bonthron was a well-beaten second that day in 4:12.5, far off his former AR of 4:08.7, and the ease of Cunningham’s victory was surprising as the two had traded indoor wins by inches at Madison Square Garden in New York earlier in the year.

Cunningham – aiming to become the NCAA’s first three-time winner in the 1500/mile – was comfortable in recreating his successful formula of taking off with two laps to go to, intent on deadening Bonthron’s killer finishing kick, and that’s just what he did on this return to the Coliseum (Cunningham was fourth in 1932 Olympic 1500).

This time, however, Bonthron stuck with Cunningham on the third lap, never letting the Kansan get more than a couple of strides ahead. Struggling to keep up was Penn’s Gene Venzke – himself a former holder of the world indoor mile best at 4:10.0 – but as the final lap approached he dropped back.

On the last lap, Cunningham increased the pace but Bonthron matched it, still close behind until he moved up on Cunningham’s shoulder on the final turn. Bonthron, a native of Detroit, unleashed his speed on the homestretch to win by some 7 yards in 4:08.9, a new meet record as Cunningham finished in 4:10.6.

A week later the two met again at the AAU national championships – the so-called rubber match as they were 2-2 in head-to-head races. Bonthron won another thrilling race, setting a world record in the 1500 at 3:48.8 as Cunningham was also under the old record at 3:48.9.

posted: February 8, 2021
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
Reese Left Her Mark On NCAA LJ
June 12, 2008

Brittney Reese won the long jump at the 2008 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships with a mark of 6.93m (22-9). Reese missed the meet record by just 1cm (½ inch).

Tupuritis Shocked The Field In 1996
May 31, 1996

Einars Tupuritis won the 800 at the 1996 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships by 0.14 seconds! Turpiritis crossed the finish line in 1:45.08.

Ellis Sent USC To A Thrilling Victory
June 9, 2018

Kendall Ellis had a remarkable come-from-behind victory in the 4×400 relay at the 2018 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships that sent Southern California to the meet title.