The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Wazzu great Henry Rono dies at 72

Cougar hall-of-famer set world records in distance running

Former WSU cross country and track and field athlete Henry Rono died at age 72 Thursday in Nairobi, Kenya.

Rono began running for WSU in 1976 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987. Rono was the third runner in history to take three NCAA cross country titles (‘76, ‘77 and ‘79) and won a total of six. He also set six outdoor and four indoor collegiate records during his time with the Cougs.

Between April and June of 1978, Rono made history when he set four world records over the course of 81 days, in the 5,000-meter, the 3,000-meter steeplechase, the 10,000-meter and the 3,000-meter. In the same year, Rono took gold in the 5,000-meter and 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Common Wealth Games.

Though Rono never competed in the Olympics due to Kenya’s boycott of the ‘76 and ‘80 games, he was regarded as one of the greatest distance runners in the world.

Rono was named Track and Field New Athlete-of-the-Year, Sport Magazine’s track Athlete-of-the-Year, AP European Sportswriters Sportsman-of-the-Year and North America winner of the Helms Athletic Foundation World Trophy. Additionally, he holds a spot in the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame.

“Henry was arguably the greatest distance runner in the history of the NCAA, and his three world records in 10 days is something that likely will never be achieved again… His impact on our program, past and present, is immeasurable,” WSU’s director of cross country and track and field Wayne Phipps said in an athletics press release.

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KEDZIE MOE, Evergreen Sports Reporter
Kedzie is a junior PR major from Seattle, Washington. She began writing in the sports section in the fall of 2023 and working as a copy editor in the spring of 2024. She is interested in the intersection of sports, culture and politics.

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  • Mike o reillyFeb 17, 2024 at 9:15 am

    So so sad that such a natural talent acheived so much and delighted so many ended so sadly. At least he has left a remarkable sporting legacy of breaking 4 world records over such diffrent distances including the steeple chase over barriers and finally returned to his home land to spend his final years.

    In closing it is dissapointing to see but typical those who knew him at the height of his athletic career and wanted to rub shoulders with him when he was famous were no where to be found helping in his hours of nèed