Hook ‘Em, Leo: Manzano Made 1500 History

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Hook ‘Em, Leo: Manzano Made 1500 History

Very little respect was accorded to Leonel “Leo” Manzano leading into the 1500 meters at the 2005 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California.

Manzano finished last in a 10-man NCAA Indoor mile final in March and more than a dozen names were faster on the outdoor 1500-meter list. Even when Manzano PR’d in the NCAA heats at 3:41.27, he was fifth and didn’t warrant attention as a potential champion.

Everything changed for the Longhorn freshman in a memorable final.

Chris Lukezic of Georgetown led the first two laps in 1:56.9 and extended his lead to 10 meters at the bell in 2:54.1. The chase pack was large and began its assault on Lukezic, who held the lead until a homestretch dash for the finish saw an incredible eight runners with a chance for victory.

Manzano not only took the lead, but unleashed a punishing finish that saw him win in 3:37.13 to become the first male freshman to win the 1500/mile in meet history. He won by over a second in a mass finish as the top-9 finishers set PRs.

Manzano’s collegiate career is among the most remarkable in the event, scoring all four years and finishing in 2008 with another NCAA title. His career total of 33 points (using the current 8-place system) is second only in the 1500/mile to the 35 of Wisconsin great Don Gehrmann, who was fourth in 1947 before becoming the event’s first 3-time champ.

Manzano is also one of two runners to combine victories in the indoor 1500/mile and outdoor 1500/mile and add a 1600-meter anchor leg on the winning indoor distance medley relay team in the same year. Manzano accomplished that in 2008, matching Michigan’s Kevin Sullivan in 1995.

At the London Olympics in 2012, Manzano earned silver, the first medal in the event by an American male since Jim Ryun’s silver in 1968.

posted: May 10, 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.