From staff reports
Basically since the first time their cleats first touched a track, Gerry Lindgren and Henry Rono were recognized among the sport’s best. Now the two former Washington State University All-Americans and world record holders will be immortalized with some of their running mates.
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced last week that Spokane’s Lindgren (WSU Class of 1968) and Rono (’81) will be among the 30 inaugural inductees for the USTFCCA Collegiate Athlete Hall of Fame Class of 2022.
“This is an incredible honor for two extremely deserving men,” WSU track and field head coach Wayne Phipps said. “Henry and Gerry are two of the most accomplished and iconic distance runners in the history of the NCAA. Their success at the conference, national and world levels is amazing.
“Henry’s accomplishment of four world records in four different events over just 81 days is unlikely to ever be surpassed.
“What a fantastic way to appreciate, honor and remember the amazing student-athletes and teams that coach (John) Chaplin led while at WSU.”
Lindgren, a Tracy Walters protégé at Rogers High School in the early 1960s, is widely considered the greatest distance runner in American collegiate history. He won 11 straight NCAA titles and his only loss at an NCAA championship was to Jim Ryun, another in the inaugural class, in the 1968 indoor 2-mile.
He was the first American to beat the Russians in a distance race, winning the 10,000 in Los Angeles in 1964 in the U.S./Russia dual meet. He won a spot on the 1964 U.S. Olympic team for the Tokyo Games, but hampered by a sprained ankle that occurred during training, he finished ninth in the 10,000.
During his time as a Cougar, he set numerous American and collegiate records from 2 to 6 miles and shared a world record with a 6-mile time of 27 minutes, 11.6 seconds.
While at Rogers, he set 11 prep distance marks.
In the spring of 1978, Rono shocked the track and field world with four world distance records in 81 days – the 5,000 (April 8), 3,000 steeplechase (May 13 that he set in Seattle); 10,000 (June 11) and 3,000 (June 27).
Rono also dominated collegiate cross country and indoor and outdoor track competition, winning six NCAA titles in addition to six outdoor records and four indoor marks.
The induction will be June 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hult Center for Performing Arts in Eugene. See the full list of inductees at www.ustfccca.org/2022/04/featured/ustfccca-announces-creation-of-collegiate-athlete-hall-of-fame-cross-country-track-field
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