Nehemiah Cruises To All-Time World Best In 1979

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Nehemiah Cruises To All-Time World Best In 1979

June 1, 1979

Renaldo Nehemiah of Maryland was already the world record holder when he won his only NCAA title in the 110 Meter Hurdles at the 1979 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships by a record margin of 0.64 seconds in a wind-aided 12.91, merely the fastest mark ever recorded under any conditions in world history.

Nehemiah was the clear favorite – having twice broken the world record earlier in the spring, lowering it to an eventual 13.00 – but the winning margin wasn’t supposed to be as large as what occurred. That’s because the race was a rematch of the thrilling NCAA 110H final from the previous year, where UCLA’s Greg Foster set a then-American record of 13.22 to edge a freshman Nehemiah, who clocked a world U20 record of 13.27.

In 1979, though a stiff, aiding wind (+3.5 m/s) gave the hurdlers issues as it pushed them close to the barriers. Nehemiah led by inches when disaster struck Foster, who crashed the sixth crossbar hard enough to break it. Foster eventually had to stop as Nehemiah cruised to an unexpectedly easy win in 12.91 (Ohio State’s Dan Oliver finished second in 13.55).

“I was not aggressive over the last three hurdles because of the wind,” said Nehemiah, a native of Scotch Plains, New Jersey. “I was afraid of it making me fall. It can throw you off and cause you to lose it.”

As Jim Dunaway of Track & Field News reported, the wind affected both stars. “I felt good over the first five hurdles,” Foster said. “Coming off 5, the wind pushed me a little and I got too close.”

P.S. – Renaldo Nehemiah’s 110H collegiate record of 13.00 lasted 40 years until Florida’s Grant Holloway broke it last year with a blistering 12.98 at the 2019 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

posted: August 3, 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
Reese Left Her Mark On NCAA LJ
June 12, 2008

Brittney Reese won the long jump at the 2008 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships with a mark of 6.93m (22-9). Reese missed the meet record by just 1cm (½ inch).

Tupuritis Shocked The Field In 1996
May 31, 1996

Einars Tupuritis won the 800 at the 1996 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships by 0.14 seconds! Turpiritis crossed the finish line in 1:45.08.

Ellis Sent USC To A Thrilling Victory
June 9, 2018

Kendall Ellis had a remarkable come-from-behind victory in the 4×400 relay at the 2018 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships that sent Southern California to the meet title.