Devers Reached Legendary Status In 1988

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Devers Reached Legendary Status In 1988

It wasn’t until her 15th career final that Gail Devers of UCLA won her first title at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Devers made it a statement victory, winning the 1988 NCAA 100 meters by a whopping 0.28 seconds – almost twice as large a margin as the meet had ever seen before.

The time was also incredible – a wind-aided 10.86 – that made Devers the fastest collegiate woman under any conditions. Devers earlier had set the wind-legal collegiate record of 11.05 just two weeks earlier at the Pacific 10 Championships. 

Asked if the monkey was off her back, Devers responded: “Yeah, monkey, refrigerator, house – whatever you want to call it.”

But there was still work to do – Devers had two more finals and every point was crucial as UCLA was in the middle of a knockout team battle with defending champ LSU.

Some 30 minutes later, Devers lined up for the 100-meter hurdles final, an event in which she held the American record and collegiate record after scorching a 12.61 at the Pac-10 meet.

In a dramatic race, Devers led until crashing into the ninth hurdle, which allowed Arizona State’s Lynda Tolbert to take control and win in a meet-record 12.82. Defending champ LaVonna Martin of Tennessee (12.85) and Devers (12.90) followed in the meet’s first trio of sub-13 hurdlers.

At this point, Devers had amassed 26 points in the meet as she was also runner-up in the long jump and had anchored UCLA’s second-place 4×100 relay team. That was second-most points in meet history to the 28 that Nebraska’s Merlene Ottey accumulated in 1983. 

But UCLA trailed LSU by five points in the team race, and the concluding 4×400 would decide the team crown. Devers – normally the Bruins’ anchor – ran the second leg and recorded her fastest-ever split of 51.4. In a thrilling finish, UCLA – anchored by freshman Janeene Vickers – won the race but runner-up LSU scored enough to win the team title by three points (61-58), then the closest women’s team finish in meet history. 

Devers finished the meet with point totals that have yet to be equaled by any woman in meet history – 28½ points in a single meet and a career total of 71¼ points.

Post-collegiately, Devers earned legendary status as one of the world’s all-time greats. She is the only athlete – man or woman – with multiple Olympic or World Championships gold medals in the 100 meters (3) and the hurdles (3).

posted: November 19, 2020
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.

Gerber Graduated To Elite Company
June 1, 1984

Farley Gerber of Weber State turned the steeplechase at the 1984 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships into an ultimate game of “Catch Me If You Can.”