Can Ereng Kick It? Yes, He Can!

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Can Ereng Kick It? Yes, He Can!

Paul Ereng of Virginia had one of the best kicks and everyone knew it.

The best strategy to beat him in the 800, it was thought, was to try to take the sting out with a fast pace, and that’s what Florida’s Mark Everett attempted at the 1988 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

Everett, a 1:46.46 sophomore who also anchored the Gators’ 4×400 relay team, went out to a huge lead in the first 200 then cruised through the halfway point in 51.8.

It wasn’t fast enough. The freshman Ereng coasted in last place, waiting until just before the 600-meter point to unleash his vaunted finishing kick. By the homestretch, Ereng was battling Everett with Texas Southern’s Maude Ado trying to keep up. As Everett faded Ereng won in a near-PR 1:46.76 with remarkably even 400-meter splits of 53.5 and 53.3.

“I was tentative at the beginning,” explained Ereng. “I knew they were running hard. I knew I was going to run well at the end.”

Before Ereng won a second NCAA DI Outdoor title in 1989, the rest of the world saw just how a great a runner he was. In the summer of ’88 he won Olympic gold at Seoul in 1:43.45, beating 1984 gold medalist Joaquim Cruz, the former Oregon star who held the fastest “all-dates” collegiate best at 1:41.77.

Then in 1989, Ereng won the World Indoor Championships in a world record of 1:44.84 that remains the indoor collegiate record. A week later, he won the NCAA Indoor title in 1:47.69, then second-fastest in meet history.

posted: May 1, 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
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.

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.