SMU’s Ezeh Hammered Out Greatness
Dave Wollman said he could divide his 28-year SMU coaching career into “BF and AF: Before Flo and After Flo.”
“Flo” is Florence Ezeh, the only woman to win three NCAA Division I hammer throw titles.
While Ezeh (pronounced “Uh-Zay”) made her coach realize the mental aspect of an athlete was as important as the physical, everyone else saw the results of her tremendous competitive fire.
Ezeh won her final NCAA title in 2001 with a dominant performance that had never been seen before. She wasted no time in breaking her own meet record from the previous year – doing so on her first attempt – and then put four more marks past it as well. By the time the dust settled, Ezeh increased her meet record to 66.85m (219-4) in Round 5.
“She loves training and competing, but never really liked the NCAA meet,” Wollman told Jon Hendershott of Track & Field News. “She puts so much pressure on herself. But she’s very pleased with three throws over 66m (216-6) and three titles.”
Ezeh, who was born in the African nation of Togo and moved to France with her family when she was young, didn’t win the 2000 NCAA quite as easily. Although Ezeh was defending champion, she trailed after three rounds to Nebraska’s Melissa Price, who had thrown a then-meet record of 64.24m (210-9). Ezeh came through in Round 4, extending the meet record to 64.58m (211-10) for the crown.
Indoors, Ezeh added two NCAA titles in the weight throw for a combined total of five – two fewer than the seven accumulated by UCLA’s Seilala Sua for the most by a female thrower in NCAA Division I history. Were it not for Ezeh’s heroics at the 2000 NCAA Indoor Championships, Sua’s total would be eight. Sua had taken the lead in Round 5 at 21.03m (69-0) before Ezeh’s last-round winner of 21.32m (69-11½).
“Until that last throw – I was scared – the confidence wasn’t there,” Ezeh told Bert Rosenthal of the Associated Press (Ezeh had lost the year before by 8 cm/3 inches). “Something in me was shaking. Then my power started to diminish. My power came back. I said ‘I can’t be second again.’”
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.
Russell Dominated The 100H At NCAAs
Gillian Russell won three career 100H titles at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, doing so between 1993 and 1995.
Fosbury Flopped To High Jump Glory
Dick Fosbury, creator of the “Fosbury Flop,” won back-to-back high jump titles at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 1968 and 1969 with meet records in both years.
Fleshman Starred In The 5000 Meters
Lauren Fleshman posted three victories in the 5000 meters at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in her career.
X-Man Reigned At 2006 NCAA Meet
Xavier Carter won four national titles at the 2006 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, completing the only 100-400 sweep and helping the title-winning 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams.
Bakewell’s Winding Road To 800 Meter Glory
Karen Bakewell set a meet record of 2:00.85 in the Women’s 800 Meters at the 1986 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Hurdling History For Forrest “Spec” Towns
Forrest “Spec” Towns won back-to-back hurdling titles at the 1936 and 1937 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships as part of a legendary streak.
What A Finish In The 1500 Meters!
Yared Nuguse of Notre Dame beat Justine Kiprotich of Michigan State by 0.003 seconds for the 1500-meter title at the 2019 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
UCLA’s Griffith Sprinted Into History
Florence Griffith won two career individual titles at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which included a meet record in the 400 Meters.
Ewell Made Quite The (Penn) State-ment
Barney Ewell of Penn State completed the 100-200 double twice at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 1940 and 1941.
Unique Discus History For Oerter In 1958
Al Oerter won back-to-back discus titles at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which included the only tie in meet history back in 1958.