Rice’s Roberts Cooked Up Pole Vault Greatness

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Rice’s Roberts Cooked Up Pole Vault Greatness

Dave Roberts wasn’t in the lead until making his final pole vault attempt at the 1973 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium.

The senior from Rice had won the 1971 and 1972 NCAA meets, but he found himself behind after a third-attempt clearance at his opening height of 17-0 (5.18m).

Even though it was a clutch make for Roberts, he would need one more in order to win and put himself in never-before territory.

The proving ground was the event’s final height of 17-4 (5.28m), and everything came down to the final attempt after Terry Porter of Kansas and Florida’s Mike Cotton missed three times. At that point Cotton held the lead with Porter ahead of Roberts as all of the places were determined on fewer misses.

Roberts made tie-breaking procedures moot with a final-attempt clearance, and his victory was also significant in that it made him the event’s first three-time winner without a tie.

As a post-collegian, Roberts went on to set two world records, including one at the 1976 U.S. Olympic Trials with a pole borrowed from then-WR holder Earl Bell, a young Arkansas State star who would later match Roberts’ feat of three solo NCAA titles in the pole vault.

posted: April 7, 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.

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John Fromm won back-to-back javelin titles at the NCAA Outdoor T&F Championships in 1957 & 1958. Fromm set MRs each time, hitting 257-1 (78.36m) in that second year.