Foster Won All-Time Classic 110H In 1978
A great 110-meter hurdle final was anticipated at the 1978 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
It turned out to be a classic at Historic Hayward Field.
Defending champion James Owens of UCLA was the meet record holder at 13.49, but he was a decided underdog to sophomore teammate Greg Foster and Maryland freshman Renaldo Nehemiah. A month earlier, Foster edged Nehemiah, 13.34 to 13.37, as both clocked PRs at the Pepsi Invitational at UCLA’s Drake Stadium.
The NCAA final had the prime contenders in the middle of the track with Foster, Nehemiah and Owens occupying lanes 3-4-5, respectively. Owens had his normal great start and led at the first hurdle over Nehemiah and Foster.
Nehemiah had command by the fifth hurdle with Foster now ahead of Owens. Foster then began to gain on Nehemiah, catching him at the eighth barrier.
It was still either one’s race over the last two hurdles, but Foster touched down first over the final barrier and continued to lead on the run-in as Nehemiah’s lean just missed.
The times were eye-opening – Foster at 13.22, just missing the world record by 0.01 seconds and beating the American record and all-time collegiate best of 13.24 set by Rod Milburn in winning the 1972 Olympics. Nehemiah’s 13.27 gave him the world junior (U20) record and third-place Owens also PR’d at 13.46.
“It’s a surprising time considering the number of hurdles I hit,” Foster told Jon Hendershott of Track & Field News. He later recalled hitting the first barrier and hurdles 4-7. After the crossing the finish line, his knee gave out when he had to dodge a photographer.
Foster and Nehemiah battled each other many more times in a long rivalry, including the 1979 NCAA rematch won by Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a three-time world record holder whose haul included the collegiate record of 13.00 that lasted until 2019, while Foster would go on to win the first three World Championships (1983, 1987, 1991).
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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Foster Won All-Time Classic 110H In 1978
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