On the campus of Georgetown University next fall there is going to be a dormitory room with a lot of sweat socks.
In that room will live Kevin Byrne and Steve Ferri, two of America's best young middle-distance runners. Both will be Georgetown freshmen. They will run together. They will live together. And, if coach Joe Lang has his way, they will lead Georgetown's track team to never-before-achieved heights together.
In College Park, freshman Renaldo (Skeets) Nehemiah will be welcome this fall. For Maryland coach Frank Costello, winner of 21 consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference championships and back-to-back IC4 outdoor titles, the addition of one athlete, will not mean much, team wise.
But the arrival of Nehemiah will give Costello something else: The chance to coach a world record holder. Nehemiah has run the 120 yard high hurdles in 12.9 seconds, 3/10 of a second faster than any high school athlete in history.
All three had different reasons for deciding to attend school in this area. For Ferri, who grew up in Arlington and went to O'Connell High School, it was the idea of remaining here to attend college. "I also wanted to be part of an up-and-coming program," he said, "to help build something. I couldn't have done that if I'd gone to a school that already was a track power."
Byrne, from Paramus (N.J.) Catholic High School, was attracted by the Washington environs, Georgetown's academics and Lang.
"I had a very close relationship with my coach in high school," he said. I wanted that sort of thing in college and I think I'll get it at Georgetown. When I tried to contact some of the big-name coaches when I was checking out schools I couldn't even get hold of them. Sometimes I go to meets and I see these teams with great runners and all, but I never see their coaches."
Nehemiah, from Scotch Plains, N.J. was lured by Maryland's reputation as a track power, by its location on the East Coast and by the presence of all-America hurdler Greg Robertson.
"I know that I'm going to be competing against a great hurdler every day in practice for the next couple of years and that can only help me," he said. "Other schools I looked into had great milers, great distance men, great sprinters and all. That doesn't do me any good. I'm a hurdler. Maryland has a hurdler."
The idea of having someone to compete with every day in practice also appeals to Byrne and Ferri. Byrne, who has run a 4:04.1 mile anchorling a relay (the equivalent of 4:05.5) from a flat start, and Ferri, who ran 4:09 in January before mononucleosis ended his season prematurely expect to push one another every day.
"I know Kevin isn't going to sit back and let me get ahead of him," Ferri said, "and I'm certainly not going to let him get ahead of me. We'll be rivals, but we'll be friendly rivals."
Byrne agreed. "It will give us someone to run with for the next four years which'll be great," he said. "It has to be good for both of us."
And living together? "That'll be great too," Byrne said. "I wouldn't want it any other way. Track guys keep different hours from other people. I know Steve won't be coming in at 4:30 in the morning because no one who runs whould do that."
As might be expected, both Costello and Lang are ecstatic over the enrollment of the young stars. "Nehemiah is the kind of guy every coach hopes to get," Costello said. "Once in a while you get lucky and get one. His potential is outrageous, it's awesome. I'm going to try and make him the greatest hurdler that ever lived."
Lang is a bit more subdued. Outstanding as they are, neither Ferry nor Byrne have attained Nehemiah's world class credentials.
"I think it's fair to say both can be sub-four minute milers," Lang said. "The thing kids like Steve and Kevin can do for a team are almost unlimited. They're both so versatile, they can help us in a lot of events. We can't afford to have a big team, so versatility is very important to us."
Byrne and Ferri also will be expected to make significant contributions to Georgetown's potent cross-country team, 16th in the country last year and members of the Top 20 the last three.
Much will be expected of all three.
Being in the spotlight is nothing new for them. "It gets to the point where people expect you to pop a world record every time you run," Nehemiah said. That just isn't possible. You have to stop running for the crowd and run for yourself."
Bryne, who has probably received the most publicity of the three, is looking forward to sharing the attention. "Next year I'll just be a little fish in a big pond," he said, "and to tell you the truth I'm kind of looking forward to it."