Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Great Villanova Moments at the NCAA Championships: #3

June 2, 1979: Don Paige's 1500-800 Double in 35 Minutes

The year before he was ranked #1 in the world over 800 meters (ahead of Sebastian Coe, whom he defeated head-to-head in Italy), Don Paige won a same-day 800-1500 double at the NCAA championships at the University of Illinois's Memorial Stadium. On June 2, 1979 Paige solidified his place in Villanova track history with two razor-thin victories: a 3:39.20 win at 1500 meters and -- a mere 35 minutes later -- a 1:46.18 win at 800 meters. This 800-1500 double had only been accomplished once before: by Villanova's Ron Delany in 1958. At the same meet, Sydney Maree won the 5000 meters in 13:20.63 giving Villanova a sweep of the 800-1500-5000 races. The Washington Post stated:

Things went very well for Paige, one of the strongest middle distance runners this country has developed. He was aided by the failure of the 1500 field to set a faster pace, enabling him to save just enough to pull out the 800 against much tougher competition.

Paige was timed in 3:39.20 as he came from sixth approaching the last turn to jog in ahead of Baylor's Todd Harbour in the 1,500. Then he clocked 1:46.18 in rallying from fifth down the stretch to score a six-yard decision over Western Michigan's Jack McIntosh in the 800. Defending champion Peter Lemashon of UTEP faded to fifth.

"I was dying in the 800," Paige said. "I was feeling so bad on the backstretch I figured I had nothing to lose. But I knew I'd go through pain running the two races so close together. If the field had wanted to beat me in the 1500, they should have gone out faster."

Men's 1500 meters
1. Don Paige Villanova University 3:39.20 10
2. Todd Harbour Baylor University 3:39.27 8
3. Kipsubi Koskei Univ of New Mexico 3:39.64 6
4. Ross Donoghue St. John's University 3:39.76 4
5. Danny Aldridge California Polytechnic 3:40.72 2
6. Andy Clifford California 3:40.84 1
7. Richie Harris Colorado State 3:40.87
8. Paul Becklund University of Arizona 3:42.17
9. Geoff Cooper North Dakota State 3:44.70
10. David Rafferty Murray State 3:45.50
11. Mike Quigley Louisiana State 3:46.50

Men's 800 meters
1. Don Paige Villanova University 1:46.18 10
2. Jack McIntosh Western Michigan 1:46.76 8
3. David Omwanza Southern California 1:46.81 6
4. Dan Futrell Truman State University 1:46.87 4
5. Peter Lemashon University of Texas 1:46.93 2
6. Owen Hamilton University of Texas 1:47.28 1
7. Gideon Tever Fairleigh Dickinson 1:47.30
8. Charles Taliaferro University of Texas 1:51.36

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