Student-Athlete + History = Daniel Lincoln

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Student-Athlete + History = Daniel Lincoln

Daniel Lincoln was the walking embodiment of the term “student-athlete.”

Actually, if Lincoln had his druthers, he probably would have skipped the athlete part entirely — but, then, the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships wouldn’t have its only man to complete the steeplechase-10K double in meet history back in 2003.

See, growing up, Lincoln knew he wanted to be a doctor, so he set himself up on that path. He took the hardest classes in school and even left Conway (Ark.) High School to attend the prestigious Arkansas School of Mathematics and Science as a senior. Lincoln earned a full academic scholarship to attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where he would earn a degree in chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry and a minor in mathematics and then finish medical school there as well.

Cross country – and eventually track & field – was just a bonus extracurricular for Lincoln. It’s safe to say that he had some talent for it, though, as he finished seventh at the state cross country meet as a sophomore, eventually won the state meet as a senior after students at ASMS convinced him to go out for the team and dropped a 4:16 mile at the Texas Relays after taking up track as well.

Lincoln found his way into the office of legendary Arkansas coach John McDonnell on his tour for incoming students and asked if he could join the program as a walk-on freshman. McDonnell agreed, even though Lincoln later said, “He pretended to know who I was when I asked.”

Over the next four years, Lincoln developed into one of the finest distance runners the program has ever seen, racking up four individual NCAA titles, including three consecutive steeplechase victories between 2001 and 2003, in addition to a 10K crown in the final year. Yes. You read that correctly: Lincoln completed the only steeplechase-10K double in meet history as a senior.

Let’s take a close look at the 2003 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, where Lincoln had a challenging schedule in front of him. He entered the meet as the two-time defending champion in the steeplechase with victories by 0.54 seconds in 2001 and 4.17 seconds in 2002 and would contest the prelims of that event on Wednesday, a 10K final on Thursday and a potential steeplechase final on Friday.

After easily making it through to the steeplechase final, Lincoln turned his attention to the 10K. He and teammate Alistair Cragg dueled throughout the race with Lincoln edging Cragg by 0.09 seconds at the finish line, matching the smallest margin of victory in meet history (John Scherer of Michigan also won by 0.09 seconds in 1988).

With 13,000 meters of racing already in his legs, Lincoln didn’t show worse for wear on Friday. He ran like the two-time defending champion he was and won by nearly three seconds to match James Mulyala of UTEP as the only men to have won three consecutive national titles in meet history (Across the other divisions, four men have also accomplished said feat in NCAA Division II, while no man has done so yet in NCAA Division III).

Lincoln eventually enrolled into medical school, all while continuing his post-collegiate running career. He won the U.S. steeplechase title in 2004, placed 11th at the Athens Olympics that same year and not too long after, broke the 21-year-old American record in the event.

posted: October 22, 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
Kendell Williams Was Multi-Talented

Kendell Williams of Georgia won seven career national titles in the combined events, including three heptathlon crowns at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Enyeart Set Meet Record In 800 Meters
June 4, 1977

Mark Enyeart won two career 800-meter titles at the NCAA Division I Outdoor T&F Championships in 1957 and 1977. He set a meet record of 1:45.16 with his victory in 1977.

Whiting Dominated SP, Nearly Set Outdoor CR
June 12, 2010

Ryan Whiting won back-to-back shot put titles at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2009 and 2010, narrowly missing the collegiate record in the last year.