HENRY RONO (wsu photo)

WSU's Henry Rono named Pac-12 track athlete of century; 6 other Cougs named to all-century team

LEGENDARY Washington State distance runner Henry Rono was named the Pac-12's greatest men's track and field athlete of the century, the Pac-12 Network announced Monday as part of the conference's 100th anniversary celebration. Six other Cougars -- Jeshua Anderson, Bernard Lagat, Julius Korir, Joseph Taiwo, Gerry Lindgren and John Van Reenan -- joined Rono on the conference's all-century team.

In 1978, Rono set four world records in the span of 81 days -- an unprecedented achievement -- in the 3,000 meters, 5,000 meters, 10 meters and 3,000-meter steeplechase. He lowered the 10,000 record by nearly 8 seconds, the 5000 by 4.5, the steeplechase by 2.6, and the 3000 by 3 seconds. To this day, he remain NCAA record-holder in the 5,000 and steeplechase.

He won six NCAA and four conference track titles while at WSU.

Last fall he was named to the Pac-12's all-century cross country team along with Lindgren and Joseph Kapkory.

Rono, who was part of WSU's long line of talented track and field performers from Kenya, is the second Cougar this spring to earn athlete of the century honors in his sport. A month ago John Olerud was named the conference's baseball player of the century.

Rono won the NCAA steeplechase in 1978 and 1979, and was the NCAA Indoor champion in the 3000 meters in 1977. In addition, he won the NCAA cross country championship three times, in 1976, 1977 and 1979.

The other honored Cougars are:

Anderson (2007-11), 400-meter hurdles: A three-time NCAA champion and four-time conference champion in the 400-meter hurdles. As profiled in this story last week, he is training for this summer's Olympic games in Rio.

Lagat (1996-99), 1,500 meters: The five-time Olympic gold medalist was named NCAA Indoor Male Athlete of the Year in 1999 and was a four-time Pac-10 champion.

Korir (1982-86), steeplechase: the Olympic gold medalist won the Pac-10 3000-meter steeplechase three times and claimed NCAA titles in the 5000 (1984) and steeple (1985), after finishing runner-up in the steeple twice.

Joseph Taiwo (1981-84). triple jump: A two-time Olympian and two-time conference champion who set the league triple-jump record, which still stands, in 1982.

Van Reenan (1967-70), discus: won the conference crown in the discus three-straight years. Set a world record in 1975.

Lindgren (1964-68), 10,000 meters: In all, he won 11 NCAA titles during his time at WSU, never losing any NCAA event he entered in four years.

Here's the complete Pac-12 all-century track and field team.


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