A year ago, Dan Ripley raised the indoor pole vault record, amateur version, to 18 feet 1 1/4 inches in the National Invitational indoor meet at College Park. He also began an uncredible series of record-breaking performances in that spectacular event.
Before the winter was over, Ripley had cleared 18-2 1/4, endured the surpassing performances of Poles Tadeusz Slusarski (18-3) and Wladyslaw Kozakiewicz (18-3 1/2), and then reclaimed the mark for himself with a leap of 18-3 3/4.
Still it was a forgettable year for the 5-foot-11, 180-pound San Jose State graduate. Suffering from a strained left hamstring, Ripley was unable to clear the qualifying height of 17-0 3/4 in the Olympic Trials at Eugene, Ore.
Ripley subsequently announced his retirement, but, as his Pacific Coast Club coach, Tom Jennings, said at the time, "Five minutes after failing to qualify for the Olympics is hardly a rational time to make any key decision about your future."
More mature thinking by the 23-year-old Ripley ended that idea of retirement. Friday night, Ripley will return to Cole Field House, hopeful of beginning another campaign of record roulette.
Ripley won a week ago at Saskatoon, Saskatachewan, with a leap of 17-6, accomplished, according to Jennings, "without really the right poles. He's in real good shape and looking to 18-4. It's a district possibility (at Cole), because with that field he'll have to do over 17 to win."
Ripley will have the right poles at College Park, guaranteed, Meet director Bob Comstock received a call Friday afternoon from a priest at CYO headquarters, who said, "We just received some long things in boxes. Should we keep them?" They were Ripley's new poles and they were kept.
Missing Poles, both capitalized and lower case, have presented many problems for Comstock in nine previous editions of the National Invitational. Minutes before the arrival of Ripley's poles was confirmed, Comstock was informed that another Pole would not be present.
Slusarski, the Olympic champion, was injured in training and withdrew from the meet.
Teammate Wojciech Buciarski , fifth in the Olympics, will be back at College Park, however, buciarski, second at 17-6, was the man who pushed Ripley to his record height a year ago, when Slusarski didn't clear anything.
Comstock, who forked over $1,500 in expense money for the Pole vaulters last year, sought them out on a wintry Wednesday evening at Baltimore Washington Airport.
Completing the seven-man field are American Mike Tully and Soviet vaulters Vladimir Kishkun and Yuriy Prokhoryenko.
Steve Riddick, anchorman of the U.S. godl-medal 400-meter relay team, is a late addition to the 60 field, where he poses a strong challenge to favorite Harvey Glance, who led off in Montreal . . . Fred Newhouse, the 500-yard defender and Olympic 400-meter runner-up, has withdraw, saying, "I can't get ready. I love to travel and get around to see the guys, but I don't have my heart in the race." . . . Pro Steve Smith has vaulted 18-5 indoors. . . . Willie Davenport and Charles Foster, 3-4 at Montreal, are the class of the 60-yard high hurdles . . . Italy's Carlo Grippo, an 880 competitor, ran a ine 1:48.5 for the indoor 800 meters ast year . . . Soviet Aleksandr Aksinin, a Montreal semifinalist, will compete in the 60. The fourth Soviet entry is still uncertain, with Comstock requesting double Olympic gold medalist Tatyana Kazankina and the Russians trying to slip in sprinter Tatyana Prorochenlo . . . Glenn Irion of Temple, the surprise high jump champion last year, returns to challenge 1976 victims Dwight Stones and Tom Woods. Others in the field are Mike Winsor, Bill Jankunis and James Barrineau . . There will be no shot put or long jump.