UTEP’s Munyala Dominated The Steeplechase
A confluence of three undefeated steeplechasers gathered at the 1977 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Champaign, Illinois.
Fastest of the year was BYU’s Henry Marsh at 8:27.7. He also owned the fastest PR at 8:23.99 – from the previous summer’s Olympics in Montreal – and was runner-up to two-time NCAA champion James Munyala of UTEP when they both broke the meet record at the 1976 NCAA meet, Munyala leading at 8:24.86.
A month before this NCAA race, Marsh and Munyala tied for the Western Athletic Conference title.
Running in his first NCAA Outdoor meet was Washington State freshman Henry Rono, who had won the NCAA cross country title the previous fall and followed that with a 2-mile win at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March. He showed additional range with his first sub-4 mile at 3:59.8.
In the final Rono – doubling back from the 10K the day before (10th in 29:22.6) – took early command with a pace that strung out the field. About midway, Marsh lagged in fifth place some 10 yards behind a lead group that included Rono and Munyala.
As Track & Field News co-founder Bert Nelson reported, “the real racing began with less than 600 meters left. Munyala bolted to a 10-yard margin over Rono, and Marsh finally got untracked.”
Munyala continued home with a 62.2 last lap (over four hurdles and a water jump) as neither Rono nor Marsh, who had moved up to third, could make a dent. He won in 8:29.51 and became the event’s first three-time champ and said afterward, “if someone had been pushing me I could have run faster.”
All three eventually did run faster.
A week later, Munyala won the AAU Championships in 8:21.59, then an all-dates collegiate best that remained his PR. Marsh bettered that later in the summer at 8:21.55 and as a post-collegian in later years added three American records, the fastest at 8:09.17. Rono set a world record in 1978 at 8:05.4, which remains the collegiate record.
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.
Martin Won Distance Titles For Two Programs
Francis (Frank) Martin made history twice in the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
FSU’s Williams Soared To Jumps Double In 2009
Kim Williams swept the horizontal jumps at the 2009 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships. Williams was particularly dominant in the TJ, winning at 14.38m (47-2¼) & by nearly 2 feet.
Clemson’s Ross Kept Getting Faster In 1995
Duane Ross PR’d twice in the 110H at the 1995 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships. When Ross won in 13.32, he became the No. 3 performer in collegiate history.
Illinois’ Kerr Went Back-To-Back At NCAAs
George Kerr won back-to-back 800/880 titles at the NCAA Outdoor T&F Championships in 1959 & 1960. Kerr set a meet record of 1:46.4 in the 800 meters in 1960.
UCLA’s Baucham Bounded To TJ CR In 2005
Candice Baucham won the triple jump at the 2005 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships with a collegiate record of 14.07m (46-2). Baucham took the event by more than one foot.
San Romani Went From Unknown To Legend
Archie San Romani won back-to-back 1500/mile crowns at the NCAA Outdoor T&F Championships in 1935 & 1936.
Auburn’s Glance Made Them Look Twice
Harvey Glance completed the 100-200 double as a freshman at the 1976 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships. He set a meet record of 10.16 in the 100.
Nova’s Rhines Did NCAA 5K Three-Peat
Jen Rhines was the first female athlete in the history of the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships to win three consecutive 5K titles.
Georgia’s Erm Cruised To 2019 Decathlon Title
Johannes Erm won the decathlon at the 2019 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships by 342 points with his 8352 total. That was also the fifth-best score in meet history.
McMillen Adapted, Set 1500 MR In 1952
Bob McMillen set a meet record in the 1500 meters of 3:50.7 at the 1952 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.