Liquori Is Mr. Sub-4 At NCAAs

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Liquori Is Mr. Sub-4 At NCAAs

Marty Liquori of Villanova beat a legend for his first victory at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

He was just a sophomore then and followed with two more NCAA mile wins to become the only miler with three sub-4 efforts in this meet. No one else had more than one.

Liquori’s first NCAA mile crown came in 1969 against world record holder Jim Ryun, who was running his final race for Kansas. Ryun – who hadn’t lost an outdoor mile in four years – was a huge favorite. But Liquori – recovering from an intestinal virus six days earlier and nursing a foot injury for two weeks – ran with the leaders and took control on the last lap, in hopes of taking the sting out of Ryun’s feared kick.

On the homestretch, Ryun was on Liquori’s shoulder but with 30 yards left, dropped off. As Cordner Nelson of Track & Field News wrote, “Immediately, Liquori reacted with a pleasure never seen while a race was still on. He grinned. He looked at the sky. He shouted for joy. He waved his fists. His last lap of 54.2 gave him victory in 3:57.7, a new meet record.”

After repeating as NCAA champ in 1970, Liquori lowered the meet record to 3:57.6 in 1971 to become the fourth man to win three 1500/mile titles. Liquori joined Don Gehrmann of Wisconsin (1948-50), Ron Delaney of Villanova (1956-58) and Dyrol Burleson of Oregon (1960-62) in that regard. No man has done so since.

A month before the 1971 NCAA meet, Liquori ran his collegiate best of 3:54.6 in another memorable race against Ryun – now a post-collegian and in the first race known as the Dream Mile, principally because it reunited Liquori and Ryun. And just like their first race, Ryun was on Liquori’s shoulder down the homestretch and stayed there as both crossed the finish in the same time, Liquori a couple of inches ahead after a 54.6 last lap.

posted: August 2, 2020
1921-2021
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