When Chris Carter advanced to the final of the 400 meter hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Wednesday, his performance stirred up memories of Ralph Mann, one of BYU's greatest track athletes who competed in the same event more than 40 years ago. Mann competed for BYU from 1969 to 1971 and was a three-time NCAA National Champion in the 440 yard hurdles (same event, different unit of measurement).
In 1969 he won the title in Knoxville, Tenn., and tied the NCAA meet record in a time of 49.6. The next season at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, the same location as this year's championships, Mann made history by winning the event for a second-straight year and breaking the world record with a time of 48.74 on June 20, 1970. His performance helped the Cougars win a share of the national championship and earned him the title of US College Track and Field Athlete of the Year from Track and Field News.
Mann completed the three year sweep of the 440 yard hurdles the next year in Seattle. He went on to win the silver medal in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
While records are unlikely to fall in Friday's final (American record: 46.78; College record: 47.56), it is an exciting coincidence that a BYU athlete will be competing in the same event where Mann made history 42 years ago. Watch Carter compete in the final on Friday at 5:35 p.m. CT on ESPN3.com.
Kyle Chilton is the director of media relations for BYU men's basketball. He can be reached at 801-422-4909, [email protected] or on Twitter @kylechilton.