Tupuritis Shocked The Field In 1996

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Tupuritis Shocked The Field In 1996

May 31, 1996

Einars Tupuritis was in no condition to run the 800-meter final at the 1996 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

Athletically, the Wichita State junior was in the best shape of his life, but on his way to the track the car that he and his coach were in was struck by another vehicle that ran a red light. Their heads collided, nearly knocking Tupuritis’ jaw out of place and causing both to see stars.

As David Woods reported for Track & Field News, “Tupuritis nearly bagged the race, but after 15 minutes on a chiropractor’s table elected to run, only to swoon with dizziness when he jumped up and down to shake out his legs before the start.”

None of this caused Tupuritis to change his race plan for the final, which was to run fast from the gun in hopes that his two main rivals – Marko Koers of Illinois and collegiate record holder Julius Achon of George Mason – would be tired from having run the 1500 prelims the day before.

Actually, everyone was tired – from Tupuritis’ hot pace. The native of Latvia covered the first lap in 50.5 with Koers following in 50.7. Koers stuck with Tupuritis all the way to the finish but said he expended so much effort during the third 200 that he lacked the power to overhaul Tupuritis.

Tupuritis hung on for a wire-to-wire victory in 1:45.08 as he and Koers struggled at the end. “The last 20 meters I felt like I was walking,” said Tupuritis.

Koers, from the Netherlands, followed closely in 1:45.22, then the fastest non-winning time in meet history. Koers had been 800 runner-up in 1994 as well, and a day after this final he won the 1500, matching his title in that event from 1993.

Achon – suffering from dehydration – moved up near the end to finish third in 1:45.95. The Patriots fielded half of the eight finalists, still the only occurrence in a men’s event in meet history (GMU went 3-6-7-8).

posted: May 22, 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
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.