Ellerbe Won After Film Review In 1939

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Ellerbe Won After Film Review In 1939

How close was the 100-yard final at the 1939 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships?

It required a closer look – sort of a photo-finish, except motion pictures were used.

Unfortunately it wasn’t a quick process as the film had to be developed, so the announced results of Stanford’s Clyde Jeffrey winning over defending champion Mozelle Ellerbe of Tuskegee stood until the film could be reviewed, which occurred after the meet was over.

Meet judges and meet referee Amos Alonzo Stagg – who chaired the committee for the first NCAA meet in 1921 – came to the conclusion that it was Ellerbe who had actually won by about 3 inches, both being timed in 9.8.

The reversal meant Ellerbe was not only the fifth man to repeat as 100-yard/meter champion, but the first athlete to repeat in any event from a predominantly black school. Ellerbe’s first NCAA win at the 1938 meet in Minneapolis was also close, but film review wasn’t necessary.

It wasn’t the last time Ellerbe and Jeffrey had a close finish. Three weeks later at the AAU national championships the two tied in a 100-meter heat at a wind-aided 10.2, the same time as Jesse Owens’ world record. Jeffrey won the final later in the day with another wind-aided 10.2 as Ellerbe finished fourth.

posted: May 13, 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.