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LU 1980's legend gets championship ring, again

Nearly three decades after losing his Southland Conference championship ring, Lamar University record-setting track athlete, Jackie Harris, was reunited with a memento of his athletic success.

Harris, a two-time All-American who attended LU from 1979 to 1984 and played both football and competed in Jackie Harris Ring Reuniontrack and field, said he doesn't remember losing the ring but is thankful it was found.

“This ring brings back a lot of memories. I’m feeling speechless. I never thought I would see it again,” says Harris. “When they called me up and told me they found my ring, I thought they were joking. It reminds me of the teamwork at Lamar and the guys I ran with. I still talk to my coach, I will call him to tell him that I have my ring back.”

Francisco Gudino, a local construction worker, found the ring four years ago while working on leveling a house in Beaumont’s west end. Gudino and his wife, Alicia, cleaned the ring and have been looking for “Jackie,” the name inscribed in the ring, since that time. The Gudinos and Harris hugged at the reunion and vowed to keep in touch.

Harris said when he lost the ring he thought about asking if he could get another but never had. 

The ring represents Harris’ participation on the Southland Conference Championship Track and Field Team in 1980. Although Harris also lettered in football while attending LU, he set records in track. In 1984 Harris set an LU and Southland Conference record with a 45.74 clocking for the 400-meter dash at the SLC Championships. He ran the anchor leg on the 1,600-meter Jackie Harris Meets Current Track Athletesrelay team that finished second at the 1984 NCAA Track and Field Championships. He also participated on the unit that set the school record in the 400-meter relay with a time of 40.00 in 1984. He set the LU record in the 440-yard dash with a time of 48.60. He was the SLC 400-meter dash champion in 1983 and earned NCAA All-America honors in 1981 and 1984. Harris’ 400-meter dash record at LU has not be broken.

Trey Clark, Lamar University’s head track coach, who remembers hearing stories about Jackie Harris when he ran track for Lamar University several years after Harris, brought two members of the current track team to meet Harris during the ring reunion that took place on the LU campus.

“He was an exceptional athlete. He was talented and gifted but he also worked hard,” said Clark. “There are still stories about Jackie Harris. He set a high standard, and I want our athletes to understand we still hold to that same standard.”

Although Harris’ ring only fit his pinky finger, he put it on with pride. “I’m going to show this to my daughters,” Harris said.