Navy track coach Jim Gehrdes flew here Wednesday afternoon with Mid distance runner Claude Barron, who expected to compete in the 5,000 meters at the 26th NCAA Track and Field Championships.
Coaches are required to declare their final entries, in person, on Wednesday morning, but Gehrdes, as he watched the clouds slip by under his jet, had no worries in that regard. He had asked another coach, Maryland's Frank Costello, to declare Barron, an accepted practice since coaches sometimes have other commitments.
Unfortunately for Barron - and Gehrdes - Costello forgot. So, despite weeks of dedicated practice and two $162 round-trip airline tickets, Barron was disqualified.
The strict NCAA rules punished another school even more severely. The University of New Mexico, with two outstanding runners and a potent 1,600-meter relay team, met the same fate.
Coach Bill Silverberg's relay quartet was the only one this year to beat defending champion Arizona State. Individual contenders included Michael Solomon of Trinidad, the indoor 600-yard champion, in the 400 meters, and Sammy Kipkurgat of Kenya in the 800 meters.
"The rules state that a coach must declare his entries between 9 a.m. and noon on Wednesday," said DeLoss Dodds, chairman of the rules committee. "There is a late petition procedure until the beginning of seeding, when a coach may petition to declare late and the committee may allow it, levying a fine of $50.
"Seeding (to set up today's heats) began at about 3:15. The New Mexico petition was received at 4:30 and the Navy petition at 4:45. If we voted with our hearts, we'd let them all in, but you've got to draw a line somewhere."
Costello was disgusted.
"I take full blame," he said. "It was an oversight on my part. I got caught up in paperwork at the table, with people pushing and shoving. There are no excuses.
"But I believe the committee was completely unjust, unsympathetic to the kid. If they want to punish me, or Jim Gehrdes, that's not the way to do it. The kid is the one who suffers. What does it take to add one guy to a 5,000 heat?"
Costello's day did not improve as Dennis Ivory, the IC4A long-jump champion from Maryland, injured his left harmstring and failed to qualify for Friday's final. Ivory injured the tendon slightly on his first attempt (22-8 3/4) and then aggravated it on his second try 21-9 1/2). He passed his final try and had the thigh wrapped.
One-third of Maryland's nine-man contingent received an unexpected day off today when qualifying in the shot put and javelin were deemed unnecessary because of small fields. So Ian Pyka and Tom Andersson moved directly into Friday's shot final and Jim Kirby advanced to Saturday's javelin final.
There were no finals scheduled today. Six championships will be decided Friday, in the long jump, shot put, hammer, 100 meters, 110-meter high hurdles and 10,000 meters. Fourteen finals are set Saturday.
In the only event decided thus for, Argentine Olympian Tito Steiner, a 25-year-old freshman at Brigham Young, won the decathlon Wednesday with 7,659 points.
Richard Lacombe of Houston, a Canadian, placed second with 7,374. The first America was third-place Mauricio Bardales of California-Irvine, with 7,366.
Barry Stebbins of Mount St. Mary's runner-up to bardales in last week's NCAA Division II competition, was fifth with 7,159.
Despite Steiner's victory, Brigham Young saw its hopes of a team title deflated when Mexican Olympian Luis Hernandez, the 5,000-meter favorite, was forced to withdraw with a sprained ankle. Hernandez, training indoors during rain last week, was injured when he swerved to avoid a girl.