Mount St. Mary's University
Kapsabet, Kenya/St. Patrick’s Hen
Men’s Track & Field/Cross Country • 1987-91
A bonafide legend in the annals of Northeast Conference cross country and track and field, Rono holds the distinction of being the only performer in conference history to win an Olympic gold medal. While a student at Mount St. Mary’s and the youngest competitor in the field, Rono won the 1,500 meters at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea in a time of 3:35.96. That same year, he became a three-time NCAA individual champion with wins in the indoor 800 and 1,500 meters, along with the outdoor 1,500 meters. In 1990, Rono was the runner-up at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 1,500 meters behind teammate Kip Cheruiyot, and also crossed the tape second in the mile at the 1990 NCAA Indoor meet. He won the 1990 NEC Cross Country championship en-route to All-America honors and was named the Most Outstanding Performer at the 1991 NEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships after capturing individual titles in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000 meter races. Rono, who hails from Kapsabet, Kenya, would go on to finish third in the NCAA Championships in the 1,500 meters that same season. He was also the 1991 NEC indoor 3,000 meter champion. An 11-time All-American and five-time NEC individual champion, he is still ranked in the top-10 in a combined seven indoor and outdoor events at the Mount. Rono, who now resides in New Jersey and works for New Balance, was previously recognized on the NEC 20th Anniversary All-Time team.
“Peter came to Mount St. Mary’s site unseen,” remembered Jim Deegan, his head coach at the Mount. “He was very open to suggestion as a runner, even on the Olympic stage. Since there was no one in the Conference at the time to give him a challenge, I would run him in select meets, along with his fellow Kenyan runners at the time who were at the Mount. He didn’t care if he came in first or not. He would say, ‘If he (his teammate) wins, we win.’ He had a family-like loyalty to his teammates, a trait that was always on display upon his arrival in America. It showed you the kind of person Peter was and still is today.”
“Mount St. Mary’s is honored that Peter Rono has been named to the Northeast Conference inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame,” said Lynne Robinson, Mount St. Mary’s Director of Athletics. “It is an understatement to say that Peter was an outstanding student-athlete at the Mount. Peter was a multiple NCAA and NEC champion, with his crowning moment coming in the 1988 Seoul Olympics where he ran the race of his life to win Olympic Gold. With all of these championships and titles, what I admire most about Peter is that after winning the gold medal and becoming a hero in his native Kenya, Peter chose to return to Mount St. Mary’s to complete his education, earning a degree in Economics in 1992 and later earning an MBA from the Mount as well. Peter Rono is a humble and deserving champion and we are very pleased to see his inclusion in the inaugural class of the NEC Hall of Fame.”