KU’s Cunningham Captures 1500/Mile Twice

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

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.

posted: July 21, 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
Mikkola Set Javelin MR With Huge Win

Esko Mikkola was a two-time JT winner at the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships. When Mikkola won in 1998, he set a MR of 81.86m (268‑7) and won by 17 feet!

Little Made Big 400H History
June 11, 2016

Shamier Little won three consecutive 400H titles at the NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships between 2014 & 2016. Little became the No. 2 performer in collegiate history with her 53.51 winner in 2016.

Ellerbe Won After Film Review In 1939

Mozelle Ellerbe won back-to-back 100-yard dash titles at the NCAA Outdoor T&F Championships in 1938 & 1939. His victory in the 2nd year was confirmed by a film review.

McCullouch Ran Legendary Times At NCAAs

Earl McCullouch of Southern California won back-to-back 120H titles at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and was a member of a WR-setting quarter-mile relay team.

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).