Carlos’ Triple Leads “Speed City” Spartans

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Carlos’ Triple Leads “Speed City” Spartans

June 21, 1969

San Jose State had such depth in its sprint corps in 1969 that coach Bud Winter coined the nickname “Speed City” for the group that included three Olympic medalists from the 1968 Mexico City Games: Lee Evans (400), Ronnie Ray Smith (4×100) and today’s subject, John Carlos (200).

It was on this day 51 years ago that Carlos, a recent transfer from East Texas State, completed the first sprint triple at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, winning the 100, 200 (220) and being a member of the 4×100 (4×110) relay team.

The 1969 NCAA meet, held in Knoxville, Tennessee, was the first held on a Tartan all-weather surface. The Spartans were familiar with the surface, as it was also installed on its home track.

On the previous day, Carlos led three SJSU athletes in the 100-yard final, winning in 9.2 seconds over defending champ Lennox Miller of Southern California. The aforementioned Ronnie Ray Smith finished third, while teammate Kirk Clayton, who was neck-and-neck for 4th place at the time, was disqualified for a lane violation. Carlos, Clayton and Ronnie Ray Smith later joined forces to post the fastest qualifier in the 440-yard relay, setting an American record of 38.8.

The final day of the meet saw lots of rain, which gave those in lane 1 extra obstacles with numerous puddles. It just so happens that SJSU somehow drew lane 1 in the 440-yard relay, but wasn’t bothered by it, winning in 39.1 with Carlos as the anchor. Then, after Evans finished second in the 440 (Stay tuned for a future moment for this race, which deserves its own article), Carlos equaled the meet record in the 220 at 20.2, matching the meet record fellow Spartan Tommy Smith established in 1967.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos became well-known for their “Black Power” salute to protest racial injustice during the medal ceremony at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics following a gold-bronze 200-meter finish. In 2005, San Jose State unveiled a large statue honoring the moment in the center of its campus.

posted: June 21, 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
A Crowning Moment For Rogers In 2017
June 10, 2017

Back in 2017, Raevyn Rogers of Oregon dazzled at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a victory in the 800 and a sizzling anchor on the winning 4×400 relay.

Oxy’s Gutowski Vaults To Record Heights
June 15, 1957

Bob Gutowski of Occidental won the pole vault at the 1957 NCAA Outdoor Championships with a clearance of 4.82m (15-9¾), a mark that surpassed the world record but was never ratified.

Guthrie-Gresham Generates Greatness
June 2, 1995

Diane Guthrie-Gresham of George Mason broke the collegiate record in the heptathlon with 6527 points at the 1995 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Conway Raises The Bar In 1989
June 3, 1989

Hollis Conway of Southwestern Louisiana set the American record and collegiate record in the high jump at the 1989 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships!

Conley Soars; Razorbacks Complete Triple Crown
June 1, 1985

Mike Conley scored 28¾ points to lead Arkansas to its first outdoor team title, which completed the vaunted “Triple Crown,” as the program also captured the cross country and indoor titles already in the academic year.