Paul Ereng cruises to the finish line. Photo: Courtesy
Paul Ereng of Virginia had one of the best kicks and everyone knew it.
The best strategy to beat him in the 800, it was thought, was to try to take the sting out with a fast pace, and that’s what Florida’s Mark Everett attempted at the 1988 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Everett, a 1:46.46 sophomore who also anchored the Gators’ 4×400 relay team, went out to a huge lead in the first 200 then cruised through the halfway point in 51.8.
It wasn’t fast enough. The freshman Ereng coasted in last place, waiting until just before the 600-meter point to unleash his vaunted finishing kick. By the homestretch, Ereng was battling Everett with Texas Southern’s Maude Ado trying to keep up. As Everett faded Ereng won in a near-PR 1:46.76 with remarkably even 400-meter splits of 53.5 and 53.3.