Track and field athletes dream of putting their names in the same conversation as all-time greats like Jesse Owens. Well, dreams came true at the 2016 Division I outdoor track and field championships for Arkansas’ Jarrion Lawson.
As we go inside the NCAA Video Vault, we'll take a look at how Jarrion Lawson became a part of collegiate track and field history.
Setting the stage
Entering the DI championships, Jarrion Lawson was known as one of the most versatile athletes in the sport. He previously won titles in the relays and took home the 2016 indoor long jump crown that winter.
But Lawson did more than run relays and jump, he also was a sprinter. At the SEC outdoor championships, he won the long jump, finished fourth in the 100 meters, sixth in the 200 meters and ran on the 4x100 meter relay.
Yet, even with all this versatility, it’s not expected for an athlete to compete and be near the top of his game at every event at NCAA championships. Besides, 2016 marked the second year since the NCAA divided the men’s and women’s competitions to different days. The schedule would be too packed.
Or so we thought.
Lawson entered the 2016 championships planning to participate in at least four, and maybe five events. It wouldn’t be the first time he attempted such a heavy workload; at the 2015 DI championships, Lawson finished third in the long jump and 100 meters, while running legs on the winning 4x100 meter relay and the sixth-place 4x400 meter relay. However, that impressive workload still doesn’t compare to what Lawson was aiming to do in 2016.
Three individual events.
Lawson was going to participate in the long jump, 100 meters and the 200 meters — all in the same meet — plus run in at least one of the relays. That’s at least five different competition times within a span of three days when counting the semifinals and finals.
Could it be done? Yes.
Would it be difficult? Of course.
Luckily, Lawson entered the DI outdoor championships with momentum after running a personal-best 20.17 in the 200 meters at the NCAA West Regional. Now it was time to see if that momentum would carry over.
The long jump
While we don’t have a video of Jarrion Lawson’s long jump, here’s what happened.
The 2016 DI outdoor track and field championships began at Hayward Field on Wednesday, June 8. The first day of the meet meant a busy day for Jarrion Lawson. Here was his schedule:
- 4x100 meter relay semifinals at 7:40 p.m. ET
- 100 meter semifinals at 8:46 p.m. ET
- Long jump final at 9 p.m. ET
- 200 meter semifinals at 9:44 p.m. ET
Accounting for warm-ups, Lawson had less than one hour to prepare and rest between events. After beginning the day by qualifying in his first two events, it was time for Lawson’s first final, the long jump.
Different from the rest of the field, Lawson had to approach the long jump with a time-sensitive mindset. With only 44 scheduled minutes — less in reality — between the long jump and the 200 meters, Lawson would be in a time crunch to take all six allowed attempts in the long jump. He’d need to get his best jumps out of the way early.
Lawson struggled at the start. His first jump was a foul. His second jump was into a -1.3 m/s wind and went 7.57 meters, putting him in sixth after two rounds. Lawson's third jump was another foul. Luckily, the one jump that counted was enough for Lawson to make the final stretch of the competition, but now the clock was ticking.
Entering the fourth round with the 200-meter semifinals rapidly approaching, Lawson needed a big jump. He ran towards the sand pit, approached the take-off board and took off.
8.13 meters. That was the distance of Lawson’s fourth-round jump. The jump gave the Razorback a 0.2-meter lead.
Lawson pushed his lead further in the fifth round, jumping 8.15 meters. That would be enough for Lawson to hold off the competition and win the 2016 outdoor long jump title, sweeping the indoor and outdoor championships.
Minutes later, Lawson qualified for the 200-meter final.
Here are the final results from the long jump final:
|Place||Athlete||School||Leading Jump (meters)|
|2||Roelf Pienaar||Arkansas State||7.93|
|5||Adoree' Jackson||Southern California||7.66|
|6||Jonathan Addison||NC State||7.62|
|7||Emmanuel Williams||Northwestern State||7.59|
|8||Zack Bazile||Ohio State||7.58|
The 100 meters
After four events on day one and a rest day on day two, Jarrion Lawson returned to action on Friday for day three of the meet. Here was his schedule:
- 4x100 meter relay final at 8:32 p.m. ET
- 100 meter final at 9:22 p.m. ET
- 200 meter final at 10:07 p.m. ET
- 4x400 meter relay final (if needed) at 10:51 p.m. ET
Lawson began his day running the anchor leg of Arkansas’ third-place 4x100 meter relay. Less than an hour later, it was time for the 100-meter final as Lawson aimed to take home his second individual title of these championships.
Lawson faced a stacked field of competitors entering the 100-meter final. He was one of three anchor legs from the 4x100 meter relay scheduled to race in the final, with LSU’s Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Houston’s Cameron Burrell joining him. Also in the race was Tennessee speedster Christian Coleman and the collegiate leader in Texas’ Senoj-Jay Givans.
Here’s the full field of competitors:
|2||John Teeters||Oklahoma State||10.16|
Out the blocks
The runners were off. Everyone had a decent start out of the blocks except Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, who was clearly behind the pack. After about 20 meters in, Christian Coleman was in the lead.
Halfway through the race, Coleman maintained his lead, but it was close with Cameron Burrell on his heels. Seven seconds into the final, the race was still up for grabs.
The final stretch
Ten meters to go. No sprinter in front of another. Who would take home the title?
Christian Coleman was the leader for most of the race, looking to finish strong in lane three. However, on the outside, Jarrion Lawson was rapidly closing. Both pushed to the finish line.
They finished the race.
But who won?
Not even the sprinters could tell after the race. That’s how close it was.
After taking a second look, Lawson defeated Coleman by a hundredth-of-a-second, winning with a time of 10.22 seconds.
With the win, Lawson became only the fifth athlete to ever win the 100-meter and long jump titles in the same year, joining William DeHart Hubbard (1925), Jesse Owens (1935-36), Carl Lewis (1981) and Ngoni Makusha (2011).
Here are the final results from the 100-meter final:
|5||John Teeter||Oklahoma State||10.257|
The 200 meters
Less than an hour after the 100 meters, Lawson was back on the track, this time for the 200 meters.
The collegiate leader, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, was out of the final. Still racing was Christian Coleman, the 2016 indoor champion, and Lawson’s teammate, Kenzo Cotton.
Here’s the full field of competitors:
|2||Nick Gray||Ohio State||20.65|
|7||Brendon Rodney||LIU Brooklyn||20.40|
The first curve
The runners were out of the blocks, each blazing around the curve to make up the staggered start. As the runners approached the homestretch, Coleman was in the lead, slightly in front of Jarrion Lawson.
Lawson hit his top speed on the straightaway, catching Coleman by 150 meters into the race. From there, Lawson took the lead.
With 10 meters to go, Lawson stretched out his arms in celebration, knowing he had secured the win, placing his name in history. He won by 0.07 seconds, finishing with a time of 20.19. To win his third individual title of the meet.
Here are the final results from the 100-meter final:
|3||Brendon Rodney||LIU Brooklyn||20.39|
|7||Nick Gray||Ohio State||20.93|
Breaking down the performance
Jarrion Lawson's three wins made him the second athlete in outdoor collegiate history to achieve a 100-200-long jump triple in the same year. The “Jesse Owens Triple” as USTFCCCA described it. A fitting name since Jesse Owens was the only other athlete to achieve such a feat 80 years prior.
Owens achieved the triple twice in 1935 and 1936. However, his triple was really a quadruple, as Owens added victories in the 220-yard hurdles in both years.
Owens scored 40 total points in those championship competitions. Lawson scored 31.5 total points — adding in his portion of the 4x100 meter relay — for a modern-day championship-scoring record.
Unfortunately, Lawson’s team would fall six points short of the team title, finishing with 56 points as the team runner-up to 2016 national champion Florida.
Lawson would cap off his collegiate success with the 2016 Bowerman Award, the premier trophy in collegiate track and field.
What they said
Jarrion Lawson on his mindset and process entering the meet: "I like to keep myself busy. I don't like to wait for two hours between events, because you can get cramps. I think it's better for me to go out and do it all at once. So when I get on the track, I'll just be going." (WholeHogSports)
Arkansas head coach Chris Bucknam on Lawson's competition schedule: "It is a very challenging schedule physically and emotionally, but I think Jarrion's prepared for it. This is something he's thought about all year long, from the first day of practice back in September." (WholeHogSports)
Lawson on his expectations entering the meet: “I came in expecting to win three events. I know obviously that it’s hard, but I do all these events because I love doing them and I definitely came here wanting to start off with a win in the long jump, and I knew that momentum would carry over to today.” (NCAA)
Lawson on his approach to each event: “I tried to take each event one at a time. I put all my focus into whatever event I’m in at the time. If I’m in the long jump, I put all my focus on the long jump. I treat them all with the respect they deserve and treat all my competitors with that same respect.” (USTFCCCA)
Lawson on joining Jesse Owens with three wins: “I’m proud of everything. This is just amazing, just to come out and win three events and be put in the same sentence as Jesse Owens." (AP)
Lawson again on joining Jesse Owens with three wins: “I’m just thankful to God to be able to do the same things that Jesse Owens did. It’s just a great privilege and honor. It’s just amazing to come out and win three events. To be mentioned in the same sentence as Owens, I just thank God for it all.” (USTFCCCA)
Here's what your Twitter feed may have looked like after Lawson’s performance:
Jarrion Lawson is going to outscore Steph Curry— House of Run (@HouseofRun) June 11, 2016
Jarrion Lawson (Arkansas) won the long jump, 100 m & 200 m...first triple winner since Jesse Owens in 1936 pic.twitter.com/QHMfy669SO— ESPNU (@ESPNU) June 11, 2016
Watch it again
Below, you can watch two of Jarrion Lawson's wins one more time.