KU’s Cunningham Captures 1500/Mile Twice
Glenn Cunningham of Kansas was considered the best American miler of all-time in the 1930s.
It’s only right that Cunningham became the first athlete to win a pair of 1500/mile titles at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 1932 and 1933, both in meet (and American) record times: 3:53.0 in 1932 (1500) and 4:09.8 in 1933 (mile).
He followed up his 1933 NCAA mile win with a share of the 880-yard world record, finishing a same-time second to Chuck Hornbostel of Indiana in the closest anyone had yet come to double victories in the two middle-distance events. In fact, the first 880-mile double wasn’t accomplished until Ross Hume of Michigan did so 12 years later.
Cunningham’s bid for a third NCAA 1500/mile crown in 1934 looked to be in fabulous shape — when a week before the meet, he set a world record in the mile of 4:06.8 by almost one second to win the Princeton Invitational (It would remain the world record for more than three years). While Princeton star Bill Bonthron was a well-beaten second in that race, he made the Tigers’ first visit to the NCAA Championships special that same year with a memorable mile race – “one of the most sensational episodes of the day,” as reported by Brian Bell of the Associated Press.
Bonthron stuck with Cunningham until, on the last turn, he overtook him with a blazing sprint to win by nearly two seconds – 4:08.9 to 4:10.6. Bonthron’s last lap of 58.8 was impressive, especially considering the world mile record at the time was 4:06.8, which averages out to a 61.7 lap.
Cunningham would continue on to more glory, including Olympic silver in 1936 at 1500 meters. The native of Atlanta, Kansas, grew up in Elkhart — which is on the border with Colorado and Oklahoma and just 42 miles from Texas. The men’s mile race at the Kansas Relays is named after him.
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.
ON THIS DAY: Kerley Set 400-Meter CR In Austin
Fred Kerley set a collegiate record in the 400 on this day in 2017. Kerley went 43.70 at the NCAA DI West Preliminary Round in Austin, Texas.
Reese Left Her Mark On NCAA LJ
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).
Foster Won All-Time Classic 110H In 1978
Greg Foster won an epic 110H race at the 1978 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships. Foster beat Renaldo Nehemiah & set an AR, CR & MR in the process with his 13.22.
D’Agostino Won By Slim Margin In 2012
Abbey D’Agostino won back-to-back 5K titles at the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships in 2012 & 2013. When D’Agostino won in 2012, it was by just 0.03 seconds.
Tupuritis Shocked The Field In 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.
Arkansas’ Brown Notched All-Time 100H Mark
Janeek Brown won the 100H at the 2019 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships in 12.40, narrowly missing the collegiate record and meet record.
Brown Paced Tennessee To 1974 Team Title
Doug Brown won back-to-back steeplechase titles at the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships in 1973 & 1974. His victory in 1973 was by 17.2 seconds!
EMU’s Jones Hurdled Into NCAA History
Hayes Jones completed the 120H-220H sweep at the 1959 NCAA Outdoor T&F Championships. Jones won the last 220H title ever awarded at the meet.
Ellis Sent USC To A Thrilling Victory
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.
Paige Turned Three NCAA Mid-Distance Titles
Don Paige won three career titles at the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships, including a 800-1500 sweep in 1979.