Tupuritis Shocked The Field In 1996

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Tupuritis Shocked The Field In 1996

May 31, 1996

Einars Tupuritis was in no condition to run the 800-meter final at the 1996 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

Athletically, the Wichita State junior was in the best shape of his life, but on his way to the track the car that he and his coach were in was struck by another vehicle that ran a red light. Their heads collided, nearly knocking Tupuritis’ jaw out of place and causing both to see stars.

As David Woods reported for Track & Field News, “Tupuritis nearly bagged the race, but after 15 minutes on a chiropractor’s table elected to run, only to swoon with dizziness when he jumped up and down to shake out his legs before the start.”

None of this caused Tupuritis to change his race plan for the final, which was to run fast from the gun in hopes that his two main rivals – Marko Koers of Illinois and collegiate record holder Julius Achon of George Mason – would be tired from having run the 1500 prelims the day before.

Actually, everyone was tired – from Tupuritis’ hot pace. The native of Latvia covered the first lap in 50.5 with Koers following in 50.7. Koers stuck with Tupuritis all the way to the finish but said he expended so much effort during the third 200 that he lacked the power to overhaul Tupuritis.

Tupuritis hung on for a wire-to-wire victory in 1:45.08 as he and Koers struggled at the end. “The last 20 meters I felt like I was walking,” said Tupuritis.

Koers, from the Netherlands, followed closely in 1:45.22, then the fastest non-winning time in meet history. Koers had been 800 runner-up in 1994 as well, and a day after this final he won the 1500, matching his title in that event from 1993.

Achon – suffering from dehydration – moved up near the end to finish third in 1:45.95. The Patriots fielded half of the eight finalists, still the only occurrence in a men’s event in meet history (GMU went 3-6-7-8).

posted: May 22, 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
Mikkola Set Javelin MR With Huge Win

Esko Mikkola was a two-time JT winner at the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships. When Mikkola won in 1998, he set a MR of 81.86m (268‑7) and won by 17 feet!

Little Made Big 400H History
June 11, 2016

Shamier Little won three consecutive 400H titles at the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships between 2014 & 2016. Little became the No. 2 performer in collegiate history with her 53.51 winner in 2016.

Ellerbe Won After Film Review In 1939

Mozelle Ellerbe won back-to-back 100-yard dash titles at the NCAA Outdoor T&F Championships in 1938 & 1939. His victory in the 2nd year was confirmed by a film review.

McCullouch Ran Legendary Times At NCAAs

Earl McCullouch of Southern California won back-to-back 120H titles at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and was a member of a WR-setting quarter-mile relay team.

Walton Started It All In The 800

Delisa Walton won the first women’s 800 at the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships in 1982. Walton is the mother of Ebonie Floyd, who finished 2nd in the 2007 100.

Gipson, Ugen Made Long Jump History

Whitney Gipson & Lorraine Ugen were the first teammates to win women’s long jump titles at the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships in consecutive years (Gipson in 2012; Ugen in 2013).