The 800 Is A Clark Family Affair
All in the family.
Their wins were separated by 14 years, but Joetta Clark of Tennessee and Hazel Clark of Florida are the first sisters to win titles at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. They were also the first in the history of the indoor meet.
Joetta, whose birthday is today, was the family’s first NCAA champion. After a runner-up finish in the 800 to Volunteer teammate Delisa Walton in 1982, Joetta won the 1983 and 1984 races to become the event’s first two-time winner. She then owned the two fastest times in meet history, plus the all-time best by a collegian during the season (CR 2:01.15 to win the 1984 SEC outdoor title).
Joetta was also a two-time winner at the NCAA Indoor Championships (1983 880 yards, 1984 1000 meters). Her career started in the pre-NCAA era and could add the 1982 AIAW Indoor 1000-yard crown to her tally as well.
Hazel is 15 years younger and also starred at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey. At Florida, where she was coached by brother J.J., she won the NCAA 1998 crown decisively, atoning for a fall in 1997 when she was one of the favorites. Hazel’s win by 1.50 seconds in 2:02.16 is the fastest by a Clark family member in this meet.
Hazel also won a pair of NCAA Indoor 800s – 1998 and 1999, the latter with a time of 2:01.77 that was then the second-best ever a collegian (she is now ninth).
Hazel led a unique Clark family “reunion” at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials when she won the 800 in 1:58.97. Finishing behind Hazel was Jearl Miles-Clark in second and Joetta in third. Jearl, wife of the aforementioned J.J., also made the U.S. team in the 400 and eventually earned a gold medal in the 4×400 relay. Joetta made her fourth U.S. team with a flying finish to nab the final spot by one one-hundredth of a second.
To wit: J.J. would later coach Tennessee to NCAA Indoor women’s team titles in 2005 and 2009. He is now the Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track & Field at Stanford University.
The Clark family is also known for the father, Joe Clark. He was portrayed by Morgan Freeman in the 1989 movie “Lean on Me,” where he is a bat-wielding principal of Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey.
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.
“Marvelous Mal” Whitfield Stars Over Two Laps
“Marvelous” Mal Whitfield won back-to-back NCAA 800-meter/880-yard titles in 1948 and 1949.
Ewen Was A True Triple Threat At NCAAs
Maggie Ewen is the only woman in the history of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships with titles in three different throwing events.
Wanamaker Wins Inaugural Decathlon Title
Rick Wanamaker of Drake won the first-ever decathlon title at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 1970!
SMU’s Connor Bounds To Triple Jump Greatness
It’s been 38 years and still no one has broken the meet record Keith Connor of SMU set in the triple jump at the 1982 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Provo, Utah.
Hail Lorenzo! Daniel Sprints To 200-Meter Records
Lorenzo Daniel of Mississippi State made four consecutive appearances in the final of the Men’s 200 Meters and set a collegiate and meet record in his last race.
Talented Twins Dominate Pole Vault Podium
Twin sisters Lexi Jacobus and Tori Hoggard finished on the same podium five times in eight seasons at the NCAA Championships and each won an outdoor title.
Blozis Was A “Giant” In The Shot
“Giant” Al Blozis won three consecutive shot put titles at the NCAA Outdoor Championships between 1940 and 1942.
Cameron Came Close To Standing Alone
Two one-hundredths of a second separated Bert Cameron of UTEP from standing alone in NCAA history.
UCLA’s Vickers Ruled The 400 Hurdles
Janeene Vickers of UCLA was the first woman to win multiple NCAA DI titles in the 400 Meter Hurdles.
Wykoff Wins Stacked NCAA 100 Final
Frank Wykoff won a stacked 100-yard final at the 1930 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships that featured six current or former world record holders.