The 800 Is A Clark Family Affair

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

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.

posted: August 1, 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
No One Vaulted Like Nilsen At NCAAs

Chris Nilsen of South Dakota set meet records for height and win margin in the pole vault at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Ostrander Made Steeplechase History

Allie Ostrander of Boise State became the first woman in the history of the NCAA Division I Outdoor T&F Championships to win three consecutive steeplechase titles.