Behind The ScenesESPNU

Always on the run: ESPN’s Rawson set to call his 50th NCAA T&F Championship

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the video above, ESPN’s Larry Rawson is finishing a standup shot during the 1984 Arco Invitational. The runners began the race before he could finish, which forced him to run as well.

Larry Rawson (Photo courtesy of Larry Rawson/ESPN)

One of ESPN’s longest-serving commentators is set to call his 50th NCAA championship this week in Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships (today, ESPN2, ESPNU). Larry Rawson, who has been with the company since 1980, has reported on and provided commentary for the Olympics, World Track and Field Championships, the Boston and New York City Marathons, as well as NCAA and SEC cross country and indoor/outdoor track and field championships.

“I find myself very humbled by that achievement and number,” said Rawson, a former Boston College record holder in the mile. “It causes you to reflect back on the wonderful experiences and places you’ve been and had a chance to report on for the sport.

“I’m truly honored that ESPN has liked the quality of my work over these many years. I continue to try and find new insights into the different events to create the ‘wow factor’ so fans can appreciate these great athletes.”

Among television commentators, Rawson ranks behind only Bob Ley, Cliff Drysdale, Chris Berman and Dick Vitale for longest ESPN career. He is an award-winning commentator who was recognized with a Sports Emmy for his work on Outside the Lines: Steroids – Whatever It Takes. In addition, he’s also been inducted into Running USA’s Hall of Fame and received the Penn Relays Lifetime Achievement award in 2011.

He has an elephant’s memory. Rawson’s favorite memories include:

  • Eamon Coghlan setting the world indoor record in 1983 during the Meadowlands Invitational
  • Reporting for ESPN on Usain Bolt’s world record in the 100m in 2009 from Berlin
  • Working on the Emmy Award-winning OTL piece: Steroids, Whatever It Takes

“Larry’s dedication and commitment to college track and field and cross country coverage over the past few decades is incredible,” said Chris Farrow, coordinating producer of ESPN’s four-day coverage of the NCAA Championships from the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.

“He’s a great ambassador for the sport, and we are fortunate to have him as part of the premier college track event of the season on ESPN. Our prime-time television coverage, coupled with ESPN3 surround coverage with up to four feeds, give track fans access to more coverage than ever.”

In Eugene, two-time Olympic medalist Dwight Stones will provide play-by-play as Rawson and Larra Overton add analysis. Jill Montgomery will report from the track.

“For me, it’s all about the athletes,” Rawson said. “I love trying to make them look as great as they are.”

Larry Rawson (top left) and Dwight Stones (bottom left) have long been part of ESPN’s Olympic sports coverage, as this vintage 1989 graphic attests. They are part of the team covering the 2017 NCAA Track and Field Championships this week in Eugene, Ore. (ESPN Images)
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