Pair of WSU legends secured Hall of Fame legacy

Henry Rono, Gerry Lindgren USTFCCCA collegiate stars



WSU Track and Field Director Wayne Phipps talks about the team’s strengths and challenges looking forward on Tuesday morning at the WSU Mooberry Fields. Most of the athletes attending the invite are throwers.

DAYLON HICKS, Evergreen reporter

Henry Rono (WSU ’81) and Gerry Lindgren (WSU ’68), former WSU track and field All-Americans cemented themselves as legends as they were inducted into the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Collegiate Athlete Hall of Fame.

The two Cougars were part of the 30-person group of track and field athletes who were chosen solely on their accomplishments garnered while competing collegiately.

Wayne Phipps, WSU director of Cross Country/Track & Field,  praised the legacies of Rono and Lindgren.

“I think both Henry and Gerry are two of the most iconic distance runners in the history of collegiate track and field,” Phipps said in a WSU Athletics article.

Rono, who currently holds the NCAA record in the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase, took the track and field world by storm with four world distance records in a span of just 81 days. The feat achieved by Rono made him a legend in the track and field world and received praise from John Chaplin, former WSU Track and Field head coach

“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 10,000 meter, the 5,000 meter, and the steeplechase,” Chaplin said in the WSU Athletics article.

“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.”

His successful streak began with a 5,000-meter record in Berkeley, Calif. April 8, 1978 and ended June 27 in Oslo, Norway, with a 3,000-meter record. During this run, he set the 3,000-meter steeplechase record in Seattle May 13 and the 10,000-meter mark in Vienna, Austria, June 11.

Rono also dominated his collegiate cross country and indoor-outdoor track competition, winning six NCAA titles in addition to six outdoor records and four indoor marks.

Lindgren is popular in the world of track and field being recognized as the greatest distance runner in American Collegiate history. He 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,” Chaplin said in the WSU Athletcis article “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.”

During his collegiate career as a Cougar, Lingren 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. He was also the first person to win individual titles in cross county, indoor & outdoor track, in the same year.

With his achievement of the first collegiate triple crown, he was the first-ever three-time NCAA Cross Country Champion. His success and hard work earned a spot with the 1964 U.S. Olympic team for the Olympics at Tokyo.

He 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.