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Pair of Cougar Legends Inducted Into USTFCCCA Collegiate Hall of Fame

Jun 6, 2022

EUGENE, Ore. - Former Washington State track and field All-Americans Henry Rono (WSU '81) and Gerry Lindgren (WSU '68) were formally inducted as inaugural members of the USTFCCCA Collegiate Athlete Hall of Fame Monday night at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts.

Rono and Lindgren were a part of the 30-person group of track and field athletes who were chosen solely on their accomplishments garnered while competing collegiately. The official induction ceremony was hosted by ESPN's John Anderson and can be viewed in its entirety here.

"I think both Henry and Gerry are two of the most iconic distance runners in the history of collegiate track and field," said Director of Cross Country/Track & Field Wayne Phipps.

Rono, who still owns the NCAA record in the men's 3000m steeplechase, shocked the track and field world with four world distance records in a span of just 81 days.  "As a freshman Henry (Rono) came into my office and made a plan to become the first runner to hold the world record in the 10,000m, the 5,000m and the steeplechase," said former Washington State Track and Field Head Coach John Chaplin. "He went out and was like a machine and just quietly did it bit by bit, one race at a time and I doubt that anyone again will ever hold those three Olympic records."

Lindgren is widely considered the greatest distance runner in American Collegiate history and won 11-straight NCAA titles, winning all but one race in his entire collegiate career.  "[Gerry Lindgren] was a small, scrawny kid but he was really tough competitor," said Chaplin.  "Going into the finals his senior year he was hurt, and he goes out and he wins the 10k and then with a lap to go in the 5k, he was in fourth and somehow, someway managed still to go out and win his third title."

Rono's streak began with a 5,000-meter record in Berkeley April 8, 1978 and ended June 27 in Oslo, Norway, with a 3,000-meter record. In between he set the 3,000-meter steeplechase record in Seattle May 13 and the 10,000-meter mark in Vienna, Austria, June 11. Rono's dominated distance events during his collegiate cross country and indoor-outdoor track competition, winning six NCAA titles in addition to six outdoor records and four indoor marks. His all-time best times in the steeplechase (8:05.4) and the 5,000m run (13:08.4) stood as NCAA records heading into this year with the steeplechase still standing as the fastest all-time heading into the final week of the outdoor season.

During his time as a Cougar, Lindgren set numerous American and Collegiate records from two to six miles and shared a world record with a six-mile time of 27:11.6.  Lindgren was the first person to win individual titles in cross county, indoor & outdoor track, in the same academic year.  In addition to the first collegiate triple crown, he was the first-ever three-time NCAA Cross Country Champion.  Lindgren won a spot on the 1964 U.S. Olympic team for the Games at Tokyo and was the first American to beat the Russians in a distance race, accomplishing the feat in Los Angeles in 1964 in the U.S./Russia dual meet in the 10,000 meters.

Monday's induction ceremony was hosted at the Silva Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Oregon, this week's hosts for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships which begin on Wednesday.

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