TEAM NCAA

WAS BIG-BIG WINNER

AT THE BUDAPEST WORLDS

By ELLIOTT DENMAN

Check ‘em out, check ‘em out.

Yes, the official World Athletics tables will tell you that Team USA by far led the rest of the globe with 29 total medals (12 golds, 8 silvers, 9 bronzes) at the 19th World Championships of Track and Field, which raged so regally in Budapest Aug. 19-27.

Team Canada (4-2-0) was listed as number two by WA, followed by Team Spain (4-1-0.)

As we all now know, the 19th World was full of drama, debate, derring-do and an array of darn good deeds – oh so much good stuff to remember a long time.

Was it the best-ever Worlds? Maybe yes. Maybe not. Only the sport’s most dedicated historians will be able to make that call.

But here’s the story behind the story of those WA medals tables.

USA 4x100m, Jamaica 4x100m, World Athletics Championships
Budapest, Hungary
August 19-27, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris

By my reckoning, the real Worlds winner was Team NCAA.

Score it 33 total medals, or 11-10-12.

Yes, that’s a computation of all these Budapest 1-2-3 place-winners (both Americans and globalists) not by the uniforms they sported at the National Athletics Stadium on the banks of the Danube but by the collegiate uniforms, they oh-so-happily wore en route to Hungary, either in 2023 or a while back.

Be it known that it was all that campus-based training, all that college coaching, all the collegiate logistics that got so many of them World Championships-ready.

Clearly, it’s the talent, both home-growns and the recruits from afar, in the collegiate system that’s continuing to churn out the stars now on top of the world. Where’d we in this sport all be without those campus track teams, which keep on rolling despite so many budget crises, finger-pointing at the sport’s non-revenue status, that new name-image-likeness business, and the total focus just about everywhere on those huge gorillas-in-the-room, football, and basketball ?.

Mondo Duplantis entertains and enthralls in Zurich, photo by Diamond League AG.

But, nevertheless, and sometimes miraculously, track and field keeps rolling along, grinding ‘em out.

Team USA’s collegiately-trained gold medal list at Budapest had these stalwart, world-topping men: Grant Holloway, 110mHH, Florida, and Ryan Crouser, SP, Texas. And these brilliant ladies: Sha’Carri Richardson, 100, LSU; Katie Moon, PV, Ashland; Chase Ealey, SP, Oklahoma State; and Laulauga Tausaga, DT, Iowa. (Not counting relays.)

Golden as well, though, were these internationalists: On the men’s side, Marco Arop, 800, Mississippi State-Canada; Josh Kerr, 1,500, New Mexico-Great Britain; Mondo Duplantis, PV, LSU-Sweden. On the women’s: Danielle Wiliams, 100H, Johnson C. Smith, Jamaica; Camryn Rogers, HT, California-Canada.

But the pendulum may be swinging.

The campus visitors are gaining major ground on the home-growns. College track is hurtling in a global direction.

Athing Mu, Budapest 2023, photo by Kevin Morris

Once inhabited by a relatively small number of international athletes, NCAA track has exploded in numbers with brilliant runners, leapers, and heavers of heavy hardware from afar, dotting campus rosters from East to West, North to South.

And, the envelope, please – with all the stats that tell this story.

Check these results at the most recent NCAA Division I Championships staged at the University of Texas/Austin in mid-June.

The meet listed 19 individual events for men and women, not counting the two relays. And 11 of the 19 on the men’s side were won by the Globals, and 13 of the 19 on the women’s.

The NCAA men’s global gold medalists lineup: On the track, Udodi Onwuzurike, 200, Stanford-Nigeria; Emmanuel Bamidele, 400, Florida-Nigeria; Ky Robinson, 5,000 and 10,000, Stanford-Australia; Romaine Beckford, 110HH, South Florida-Jamaica.

Leo Neugebauer just won the NCAA decathlon in the new German NR! photo by How Lao Photography.

In the field: Romaine Beckford, HJ, South Florida-Jamaica; Kyle Rademeker, PV, South Florida-South Africa; Carey McLeod, LJ, Arkansas-Jamaica; Jaydon Hibberd. TJ, Arkansas-Jamaica; Kenneth Ikeji, HT, Harvard-Great Britain. And decathlon: Leo Neugebauer. Texas-Germany.

The NCAA women’s global gold medal roster: Alfred Julien,100 and 200, Texas-Saint Lucia; Rhasidat Adeleke, 400, Texas-Ireland; Evelyn Kemboi, 10,000, Utah Valley-Kenya; Ackera Nugent, 100H, Arkansas-Jamaica; Savannah Sutherland, 400H, Michigan-Canada.

In the field: Ackelia Smith, LJ, Texas-Jamaica; Axelina Johansson, SP. Nebraska-Sweden; Jorinde VanKlinken, DT, Oregon-Netherlands; Stephanie Ratcliffe, HT, Harvard-Australia; Rhema Otabor, JT, Nebraska-Bahamas. And heptathlon, Pippi Lotta Enok, Oklahoma-Estonia.

It’s been a gradual process.

Grant Holloway wins his third title, 110m, Budapest 2023, photo by Kevin Morris

Some of the NCAA’s earliest international champions include Earl Thomson, 110 HH, Dartmouth; Alex Wilson, 440, Canada; Lee Orr, 440, Washington State; Don McEwen, two-mile, Michigan; Duncan McNaughton, HJ, Southern Cal. All from Canada.

Changes were in the wind by the latter 1940s and into the 50s and 60s. NCAA champions were coming from much farther afield than our northern neighbor.

Jamaica’s Herb McKenley won the 1946-47 NCAA 440 for Illinois. Fellow Jamaican George Rhoden took the 1950-51-52 NCAA 440 for Morgan State. Villanova’s Ron Delany of Ireland ran off with the NCAA mile title in 1956-57-58 and the 880 in ’58. Houston’s Al Lawrence of Australia took the NCAA three miles in 1960, and fellow Houston Aussie Pat Clohessy the NCAA three miles in 1961-62. Washington State’s John Van Reenen of South Africa won the NCAA discus in 1968-69-70.

It’s gone on and on and on. The numbers now zoom..

Team NCAA surely deserves a pat on the back. Or a gold medal or two or three of its own.

At the least.

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