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Pac-12 tabs WSU’s Henry Rono Men’s Track & Field Athlete of the Century

Former Washington State standout Henry Rono was named Pac-12 Men’s Track & Field Athlete of the Century. (File The Spokesman-Review)
Former Washington State standout Henry Rono was named Pac-12 Men’s Track & Field Athlete of the Century. (File The Spokesman-Review)
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SAN FRANCISCO – Washington State distance phenom Henry Rono has been selected the Pac-12 Men’s Track & Field Athlete of the Century.

Rono,from Kiptaragon, Kenya, who ran for WSU from 1976-81, established four World, Collegiate, Pac-10 and WSU records in 81 days in 1978. He ran the 5,000 meters in a time of 13 minutes, 8.4 seconds (April 8), the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 8:05.4 (May 13), the 10,000 in 27:22.47 (June 11) and the 3,000 in 7:32.1 (June 27). His steeplechase and 5,000 times are still the best in collegiate records through the 2016 season.

He won four Pac-10 titles – steeplechase in 1977, 5k and 10k in 1978, and 5k in 1979. Rono won six NCAA titles, including the 1978 and 1979 steeplechase. In 1978, he was named Track and Field News’ World Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Sport Magazine Track Athlete-of-the-Year, AP European Sportswriters Sportsman of the Year and was the North America winner of Helms Athletic Foundation World Trophy. A member of Kenya’s 1980 Olympic team, he dropped his 5,000 time to 13:06.2 (1981) but did not compete due to a political boycott.

Rono, who was selected for the 5,000, 10,000 and steeplechase events, was joined on the 52-member team by six additional Cougars: Bernard Lagat (1996-99) 1,500; Gerry Lindgren from Rogers High School (1964-68) 10,000; Jeshua Anderson (2007-11) 400-meter hurdles; Julius Korir (1982-86) steeplechase; Joseph Taiwo (1981-84) triple jump; and John van Reenen (1967-70) discus throw.

Rono and Lindgren were also among the dozen men named to the 2015 Pac-12 Networks All-Century Cross Country team.

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