Interhigh athletes will have to go a ways before topping Lynda Tolbert's recent performance at the Episcopal/Pinnacle Invitational indoor track meet.

The 18-year-old senior was timed in 7.93 for the 55-meter hurdles, the fastest electronic time in the nation this early indoor season.

Tolbert's time was an area record as she was named the Episcopal meet's outstanding performer. She broke the 1979 mark of 7.95 held by Olympic gold medalist Benita Fitzgerald, formerly of Gar-Field High.

Tolbert's effort was the fifth-fastest time in the history of girls high school track, tying her with Olympic runner Carol Lewis, sister of Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis.

Tolbert will run the hurdles in the D.C. Public School Invitational meet Jan. 4 at the D.C. Amrory. It will be the first time the 55-meter event has been run at the meet.

"I didn't feel anything; I just went out and ran," Tolbert said before winning her heat (8.2) in the George Mason Holiday Invitational meet. The finals will be held Jan. 5 at Mason.

"Once you do so much, it doesn't matter. I'm use to it by now," Tolbert said about her record-breaking performance.

Tolbert also long jumps (she leaped 18 feet, 4 inches at George Mason) and runs the 300 meters and all Ballou relays.

Tolbert is the main reason Ballou's girls are favored to win the Interhigh championship in February. H.D. Woodson is favored to win the boys title.

Only three girls have not returned from Ballou's indoor championship team of last year. The Knights took off the cross country season to work on their grades and five 3.0 grade-point averages resulted.

"With those that are returning, they are working hard and are right on schedule with our program. We'll have a successful indoor team," said Fletcher Tinsley, assistant girls track coach at Ballou.

Along with Tolbert, Ballou has Doris Grooms (45.3 in the 300 meters), Felecia Lesene (1:25.22 in the 500), Yolanda Thornton (3:25.9 in the 1,000) and Marie Small. Ballou will also benefit from Douglass Junior High graduates Charlene Taylor (7.6 in the 50-meter dash), Linda Johnson (7.6) and Roxanne Rawls in the field events.

Ballou boys Coach Gary Butler will have John Branch (8.02 in the hurdles), Michael Williamson in the 1,000, Donald Cunningham (46-2 3/4 in the shot put) and Barrington Nash in the 3,200.

"We do have several strong newcomers in our middle and long distance programs," said Butler.

H.D. Woodson Coach Lionell Russell will have a number of good athletes for the indoor season. The Warriors will have Ronald Jones (7.6 in the hurdles), Ricardo Felder (1:10.22 in the 500), Arthur Catoe (2:43.79 in the 1,000) and Tim Moore (4:34.25 in the 1,600).

"We have a lot of younger kids. It's going to be a very enjoyable season," said Russell.

H.D. Woodson's girls team will challenge Ballou. The Warriors have speed, but lack strength. They have a jump on their competition by having run in two meets (Episcopal and the trials at George Mason).

Woodson has Monique Blazio (63.48 in the 300), Karen Frazier (1:19.1 in the 500), Michelle Glenn (44.79 in the 300), Danette Anderson (7.5 in the 55) and Lisa Milner (3:12.6 in the 1,000). The Warriors will also have Tracy Oates, Stephanie Wilkins, Antoinette Gillis and Margo Mines.

Woodson's 3:51.3 in the 1,600-meter relay at Mason was faster than Georgetown (4:11.03), Maryland (3:59.3) and Mount St. Mary's (4:11.6). The Woodson team of Wilkins, Oaks, Anderson and Glenn ran that time while running under the banner of Ms. International at Mason .

"This year, we don't have to double up to win. We have the materials to win," said Gillis, who ran 5:43.9 in the 3,200.

Other schools may determine the winner of the Interhigh girls championship.

"With that strong distance team Dunbar showed in the cross country season, there will be a different outcome in the middle and long distance races," said Tinsley about the girls competition.

Dunbar won the cross country title with five sophomore girls finishing in the top 10. Coach James O'Neal will depend on Jackie McCalop, the cross country team's most valuable runner, Tamara Humbles, Leslie Coney, Tina Johnson and Helen Andrews.

Last winter, Anacostia and Wilson didn't have a girls track team, but both will field squads this season.

Anacostia Coach Patricia Briscoe will have Cynthia Battle (3:40.5 in the 1,000) and Lorraine McCall (1:23.9 in the 500). Rounding out the Indians' team are LaQuetta Mathis (8.2 in the dash), Cherly Jones and Bonita Dawson.

Wilson has Molly Carr, who was first-team all-Interhigh in cross country. McKinley's Gracie Brown made an impressive showing at Mason. She won her heat of the 55-meter hurdles (8.30) and the 500 (1:22.0). She will be joined by Lisa Todd, Brenda Griffin and Melody Sutton.

Coolidge will depend on Tina Wright (1:32.4 in the 500), Bonita Grissette (1:30.0 in the 500) and Sally Morris (45.5 in the 300).

Spingarn and Theodore Roosevelt girls don't figure to upset the balance of power.

Other top performers anong the boys are Anacostia's William Lumpkin, who won his heat in the 500 meters (1:05.4) at Mason; Andrew Woodard (8.0 in the hurdles), Nathaniel Blane (8.0), Tony Duckett, Walter Purcy, Darrell Arrington and Martin Dorsey.

Coolidge will have the all-Interhigh pair of Maurice Miller (4:42.5 in the 1,600) and Charles Jordan (long jump). Spingarn's Carlos Gill made a very impressive showing at Mason last week. He won his heat of the 500 in 1:11.4 and gave Spingarn an early lead in the 3,200-meter relay. He will be joined by Anthony Brodie, Andre Price, Rodney Scott, Reggie Davis and Michael Trueheart.

All-America sprinter Robert Thomas, who ran the 100 meters in 10.15 outdoors last spring, will lead Theodore Roosevelt.