Rice’s Roberts Cooked Up Pole Vault Greatness

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Rice’s Roberts Cooked Up Pole Vault Greatness

Dave Roberts wasn’t in the lead until making his final pole vault attempt at the 1973 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium.

The senior from Rice had won the 1971 and 1972 NCAA meets, but he found himself behind after a third-attempt clearance at his opening height of 17-0 (5.18m).

Even though it was a clutch make for Roberts, he would need one more in order to win and put himself in never-before territory.

The proving ground was the event’s final height of 17-4 (5.28m), and everything came down to the final attempt after Terry Porter of Kansas and Florida’s Mike Cotton missed three times. At that point Cotton held the lead with Porter ahead of Roberts as all of the places were determined on fewer misses.

Roberts made tie-breaking procedures moot with a final-attempt clearance, and his victory was also significant in that it made him the event’s first three-time winner without a tie.

As a post-collegian, Roberts went on to set two world records, including one at the 1976 U.S. Olympic Trials with a pole borrowed from then-WR holder Earl Bell, a young Arkansas State star who would later match Roberts’ feat of three solo NCAA titles in the pole vault.

posted: April 7, 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
Walton Started It All In The 800

Delisa Walton won the first women’s 800 at the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships in 1982. Walton is the mother of Ebonie Floyd, who finished 2nd in the 2007 100.

Gipson, Ugen Made Long Jump History

Whitney Gipson & Lorraine Ugen were the first teammates to win women’s long jump titles at the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships in consecutive years (Gipson in 2012; Ugen in 2013).

Plab Reached Lofty Heights In NCAA HJ

Darrin Plab won back-to-back HJ titles at the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships in 1991 & 1992. Plab cleared 2.34m (7-8) in 1992 & tied the 2nd best bar in meet history.

Peoples Made History One Lap At A Time

Maurice Peoples won the 440-yard dash in 1973 & then really turned up the heat. Peoples split 43.4 on the Sun Devils’ mile relay team that finished third in the final.

KU’s Lokedi Set 10K MR In 2018

Sharon Lokedi won the 10K at the 2018 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships in a meet-record 32:09.20. Lokedi led five other women under the old final-site best, too.

Can Ereng Kick It? Yes, He Can!

Paul Ereng won back-to-back 800-meter titles at the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships in 1988 & 1989. Ereng is still the current indoor record holder in the event.