Five years ago, a women's distance race signaled a stampede to the refreshment stand. Friday night, at the 89th National AAU indoor track and field championships, a crowd of 13,819 turned Madison Square Garden into a maelstrom of noise as Francie Larrieu Lutz swept the two-mile and mile events.
After her second success, Lutz was saluted with prolonged standing applause. It was most deserving, for Lutz almost singlehandedly has brought women's track onto center stage.
Running from coast to coast, sometimes as many as four times in a meet, often with her token opposition lost from sight, the 24-year-old 100-pounder has produced five world indoor records at distances from 1,000 meters to two miles.
"Publicity helps women," Lutz said, "and the public wants to see someone run well. Here it was the idea of (Jan) Merrill-Lutz that got them going. Last year, they were behind Jan when she did the double. This year, they were behind me."
Only 35 minutes separated the two-mile, in which she outsprinted Merrill by eight yards in a meet-record 9:58.2, and the mile, won lesser competition in a more leisurely 4:43.1.
"The races weren't much problem," Lutz said. "The worst part was in between. I thought I was going to be physically ill. Doubling us nothing new. I used to quadruple when I was running for the old Cinderglas."
Lutz was voted the outstanding female athlete, but not without consideration of the accomplishments of Rosalyn Bryant and Jane Frederick.
Bryant set her fourth world indoor record of the winter, taking the 220 in 23.4, and also ran a 54.4 leadoff quarter for the victorious sprint-medley relay quartet as her Los Angeles Mercurettes took thewomen's team title.
Freerick, America's best pentathlete, set a world indoor mark of 7.3 in the 60-yard hurdles, placed second in the shot put and sixth in the high jump.
Frederick's hurdle triumph marked one of several unfortunate incidents in a meet noted for same. DebbyLa Plante was first announced as the winner and record breaker, then cried profusely when the finish film forced a reversal.
Howard won the men's spring medley, but a rerun was decreed because anchorman Robert Taylor of the Philadelphia Pioneers was improperly ordered off the track by an official and was not prepared to handle Alf Daley's baton pass.
The rerun was held after the concluding mile relay and neither the protesting Pioneers nor Howard competed. The Pioneers simply left, because Maccabi Union had wrapped up team honors. Howard, fourth in the mile relay, was too tired to come back against Manhattan Community College's fresh teams.
"I couldn't ask the kids to run again," said Howard coach Bill Moultrie, disgusted by the decision. "Bad things have happened to us - we've lived with them. This wasn't the official's fault. Their runner should have been there. (Howard anchorman Richard) Massey was."
Dwight Stones, Tom Woods and Bill Jankunis refused to compete in the high jump because the AAU would not accept late entries from Ed Fern and Mel Embree. There were extenuating circumstances because the tardy athlete's coach, Panayote Dimitras, was confused over the deadline for submitting deadlines.
"I want to jump but I won't," Woods said. "I'be committed myself. I'm out the $500 expenses but there's principle at stake here."
"I traveled 3,000 miles to get here," said winner Paul Underwood. "I felt good. I'm obligated to my club, which helped me out when I needed it, and I'm obligated to myself. I jump because I enjoy it."
Now there are rumblings that the dissidents will boycott any meet in which Underwood competes. He needn't worry about the next one, however. Underwood qualified for the U.S.-Soviet-Canada meet Thursday and Friday in Toronto, while the protesters, by their stand here, also ruled themselves off the U.S. team.
The D.C. Striders' women's mile relay team of Freida Davy, June Smith, Gwen Norman and Andrea Bruce set a meet record of 3:45.6 . . . the Striders' men's team placed third in 3:12.6 despite a 46.9 anchor quarter by Stan Vinson. The time bettered the Striders' Madison Square Garden record of 3:13.8 but Arizona State (3:12.3) and Maccabi Union (3:12.5) were even faster . . . The Striders' Fred Sowerby took the 600 in 1:09.8, leaving runner-up Kevin Price pounding the track in digust . . . Filbert Bayi displayed a rare come-from-behind kick to edge Nial O'Shaughnessy in a 3:59.3 mile. It was Bayi's third straight AAU triumph. He will run a special mile in Toronta . . . Brenda Morehead ended 17-year-old Jeanette Bolden's Cinderella story in the women's 60, but Steve Riddick kep on winning in the men's sprint.