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A History of Mustangs in the Olympics 1968-2012


Cal Poly Mustangs in the Olympics rown 1968 During a run of winning three consecutive state high jump championships at Compton High School, Reynaldo Brown competed as a 17-year-old at the 1968 Olympics. He cleared 7 feet and a quarter-inch in Mexico City, finishing just two spots back of earning a bronze medal. Renowned as one of the last world-class high jumpers to use the straddle technique rather than the Fosbury Flop (as Dick Fosbury won the gold in 1968), Brown won a pair of national titles for Cal Poly at the Division I level, in 1971 and 1973. His height of 7-4 on the second occasion — which culminated a senior season in which he earned top honors at 15 meets — broke the NCAA record at the time, ranked No. 2 in the world that year (behind only Dwight Stones), and still stands as the Mustangs’ program record. By the close of his collegiate career, whether via indoor or outdoor competition, Brown had set or tied 27 records in various contexts. The 1971 all-sports CCAA Male Athlete of the Year also played basketball at Cal Poly. Brown overcame cancer, and cardiac and kidney failure later in life to still clear 5-6 in 2009.

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Cal Poly Mustangs in the Olympics ill 1972 Gill’s career-best mark of 55 feet, 1.25 inches at the West Coast Relays in Fresno in 1971 ranked as the second-longest triple jump ever recorded on American soil at the time (and was just a half-inch back of the U.S. record). A year later at the Munich Games (shown at left), he represented his native India in both the triple and long jump. Gill had previously won a gold medal at the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok, as well as a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh the same year. Below, Gill poses for a photo on campus with coach Steve Simmons, who would also later be inducted into the Cal Poly Hall of Fame. Gill won back-to-back NCAA outdoor championships for the Mustangs in 1970 and 1971, at 51-9.25 and 54-8.5.

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Cal Poly Mustangs in the Olympics 1976

arin mith 1980 1984 1988 Karin Smith’s javelin throw of 206 feet, 9 inches on June 4, 1982 in Provo, Utah not only won the national title at the Division I level for Cal Poly; it still stands as the all-time NCAA Championships record. Her all-time best, 212-6, came on Aug. 10, 1980 in Cologne, West Germany. Consistently ranked among the top five in the world throughout the 1980s, the UCLA transfer from La Jolla also won the Olympic Trials in 1980, but the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games during the Cold War era. A seven-time USATF champion, Smith finished eighth at the Montreal Games in 1976 and again in Los Angeles in 1984 after finishing her collegiate career as a Mustang.

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Cal Poly Mustangs in the Olympics illiams 1980 Williams won the national title in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles as a Cal Poly senior in 1979, at 49.82 seconds, on his way to also being honored with a California State Assembly Resolution Outstanding Athlete Award. The next year, he earned a spot on the Olympic team in the event (depicted below with President Carter, becoming the first athlete from Vallejo to ever belong to an Olympic roster), but the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games during the Cold War. Williams’ top world ranking came in 1981, at No. 6. In addition to his school-record 49.32 in his premier race, he also owns a part of both program relay records. An eight-time conference champion for the Mustangs, he also competed at the Pan-Am Games in Puerto Rico and the World University Games in Mexico in 1979.

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Cal Poly Mustangs in the Olympics ios 1984 Carmelo Ríos still owns the all-time Cal Poly steeplechase record, 8:28.89, set in 1983. Also that year, he qualified for the inaugural IAAF World Championships in Helsinki and won a silver medal at the Pan-Am Games in Venezuela. He went on to represent his native Puerto Rico at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, where he opened with a sixth-ranked first-round time of 8:31.88 before coming in 12th in the semifinals. In addition to winning the 1981 national championship in the steeplechase while a Mustang, Ríos also claimed the 5,000-meter title in 1983 after running a collegiatebest 13:57.64. He finished his pro career running for the Asics Aggies Club from 1985-93.

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Cal Poly Mustangs in the Olympics ue

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As a sophomore for Cal Poly in 1982, Sue McNeal set the school record for the high jump at 6 feet, 2 inches. It was a pinnacle that stood for more than two decades and ranked sixth in the nation for that entire season, whether among collegians or professionals, while garnering Division I AllAmerican status. In the first season the NCAA sponsored women’s sports, McNeal helped Cal Poly earn a No. 7 dual-meet team ranking from Track & Field News. She won a national title in 1983 for the Mustangs, and her clearance of 6 feet the following year remains an all-time record for the CCAA finals. The Carlsbad native’s all-time best came in 1991, at 6-5, rising to a U.S. ranking of No. 2. The next year at the Barcelona Games, she finished 19th, with a height of 6-2.75.

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Cal Poly Mustangs in the Olympics haron

owery 1996 Sharon Hanson-Lowery finished ninth in the heptathlon in 1996 at the Atlanta Games (shown at lower-left), compiling a score of 6,292. Her trials performance of 6,352 that year was a career high, just 51 back of Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Hanson was also the second-place finisher at the 1991 Pan-Am Games in Havana (totaling 5,770 points). As a Mustang senior in 1987, Hanson set the school record in the 400 hurdles, at 58.27 seconds (one that would stand until 2003), before shifting her pro career to the multi-event focus years later.

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Cal Poly Mustangs in the Olympics tephanie rown rafton 2004 2008 2012 One of the more recent icons to come out of the Cal Poly track and field program is Stephanie Brown Trafton, who earned a combined seven All-America certificates during her Mustang career. She still owns two school records — 189 feet, 7 inches in the discus, and 57 feet in the shot put — and graduated as a seven-time Big West Conference champion. As a senior in the 2003 outdoor season — a year before competing at her first Olympics in Athens — she took second place in the discus at the NCAA Championships. Brown Trafton is most famous for her first-place discus performance at the Beijing Games in 2008 (shown above and below), when she had a mark of 212-5 to become the first American woman to win the gold medal in the event since 1932. Afterward that season, she was honored with the Jesse Owens Award as USATF’s female track and field athlete of the year. In 2012, she rewrote the American record to 222-3 at the Altius TC Throwdown in Maui.

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Cal Poly Mustangs in the Olympics haron onroe 2008 2012 Sharon Day won the 2005 NCAA outdoor high jump national title as a Mustang sophomore, clearing 6 feet, 4 inches in Sacramento. In all between the indoor and outdoor seasons, she was a seventime All-American. Culminating her last spring at Cal Poly in 2008, she won her fourth straight Big West Conference title at 6-4.75, meeting the Olympic qualifying standard while ranking No. 2 in the U.S. and No. 19 worldwide at the time. Indeed that summer after graduating, she went on to qualify for the Beijing Games, where she placed 12th. Day-Monroe also set the school record in the heptathlon (with 5,642 points), for which she returned to the Olympics in 2012 (shown below), placing as the U.S.’ highest finisher in London (16th overall, at 6,232). Now competing for ASICS as the country’s winningest multi-event woman ever, she set the American indoor pentathlon record in 2014 at 4,805. In 2015, Day-Monroe became the first woman in USATF history to win four consecutive national indoor pentathlon titles (adding to her trio of outdoor crowns).

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10 Individual NCAA Division I National Champions All-Time 30 All-Americans Since 1998 114 Big West Conference Champions

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Cal Poly Track and Field Olympians