I didn’t realize until I compiled this favorite-moments list just how much the dictum of “no cheering in the pressbox” has come to dominate how I watch/enjoy the sport. Unfortunately, I’ve done a good job—too good, in fact—of learning how to be dispassionate. It makes me a better journalist and broadcaster, but it saps some of the vitality out of being a fan. So as you’ll see, my list is very much front-loaded.
Chronologically, these self-centered moments stick with me (noting that I’ve restricted individuals to a single appearance apiece, or it would run the risk of being all Gerry Lindgren and Henry Rono):
May 1963—Don Bertoia ’63, who ran for the same track club back home as I did, wins the Pan-Am Games 800 gold medal.
March 1965—Bob Yard ’66, who went to my high school, wins the pole vault at the first-ever NCAA Indoor Championships.
April 1965—The first-ever Mooberry Relays, named after longtime Coug coach Jack Mooberry, are held at Rogers High in Spokane. I win the long jump with a mark I never surpassed.
June 1968—The Cougs shock the formchart and finish second at the NCAA Championships. I wasn’t good enough to go to the Nationals, but that was the year I lettered.
November 1969—Gerry Lindgren and Oregon legend Steve Prefontaine clash at Stanford’s golf course in the greatest cross country race I’ve ever seen, Gerry narrowly winning the Pac-8 title. Added bonus: I’m there to see it, as I’m in town for my Track & Field News job interview.
May 1970—The setting is UCLA’s Drake Stadium for the Pac-8. Two firsts: Rick Riley ’71, my best buddy in Pullman, wins the mile with the first sub-4:00 in school history and I cry after a race for the first time.
May 1975—It’s Pac-8 time in LA’s historic Coliseum and Coug John Delamere ’74 turns the long jumping world upside down, literally, by unveiling his somersault style.
November 1976—It’s cross country time at Stanford again and I get to see Henry Rono ’81 run for the first time. I make the flat-out prediction that he’s going to be a world record setter. I conveniently ignore how many times I’ve said something similar and been dead wrong and never fail to bring up my prescience when he goes on his tear two years later.
May 1984—I get the honor of announcing the Pac-10 Championships in Pullman.
June 1988—Throwing in Eugene, Laura Lavine ’88 becomes the first woman ever to win the NCAA discus title twice.
August 2004—I’m standing a dozen rows from the track in the middle of the homestretch in Athens as Bernard Lagat ’01 and world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj stage the greatest final 100 meters ever seen in an Olympic 1500. Bernard loses narrowly, but it’s another tear-inducing moment.
September 2017—Our ’68 team is inducted into the WSU Athletic Hall Of Fame.
Any favorite track and field events of your own? Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read about E. Garry Hill ’65, editor of Track & Field News.