The 11th annual National Invitation indoor track meet, scheduled for a 6:30 start tonight at Cole Field House in College Park, should be a record buster.
Meet records are likely to fall in both high jumps and the pole vault, with a world best a definite possibility in the vault. Additionally, the presence of Filbert Bayi, Francie Larrieu, Fred Sowerby and Suleiman Nyambui will place a number of meet marks in jeopardy on the track.
Fully automatic timing guarantees a new look for the sprint and hurdles records with those suspect hand-timed standards gone forever. Now it's a gun-to-tape clocking and, if times are certain to be slower, at least they will mean something.
The relays, usually flawed here by early season passing problems, shape up as the best in the meet's history.
The D.C. Striders, virtually, unchallenged in the open race, and Villanova and Southern University spurrin each other on in the climactic college test, are threats to Seton Hall's 11-lap mile relay mark of 3:11.9, set here in 1975, as well as the Pacific Coast Club's indoor standard of 3:09.4, established in 1971 on an eight-lap oval at Louisville.
Texas-El Paso's Kenyans and Georgetown's highly rated quartet challenge perennial power Villanova in a two-mile relay that should go under the Wildcat's meet record of 7:28.2.
The mark the consponsoring Catholic Youth Organization and Maryland M Club would like to see fall is the attendance figure of 11,000 and, if threatening precipitation proves to be rain, it is expected to disappear.
"We perennially come up with the worst night of the year and it's leaning that way again," meet director Bob Comstock noted yesterday. "One thing's for sure, the talent is much better than the weather."
The men's high jump, in which Reynaldo-Brown's 1972 America record of 7-feet-4 inches has survived as the meet mark, features a most interesting trio.
Greg Joy, who sent all of Canada into ecstasy with his silver medal leap on the closing day of the Montreal Olympics, is favored off his clearing 7-4 in winning the Muhammad Ali Classic at Long Beach, Calif., a week ago.
Confident of winning and going higher is Franklin Jacobs of Fairleigh Dickinson, the 5-8 leaper who already has gone 21 1/2 inches above his height. Jacob's biggest problem is his unusual technique, which places his knee perilously close to his head.
The other prime contender is Rory Kotinek, the reformed javelin thrower who rebounded from a disastrous Olympic year to leap 7-6 in 1977.
The women's high jump pits Debbie Brill of Candada, another trying hard to forget the Olympics - she failed to clear a qualifying height - against American Olympians Joni Huntley and Paula Girven, both trying to bounce back from injuries.
Brill leaped to a personal best of 6-3 1/2 in Saskatoon, Canada. She has been trying to trim off a couple of pounds to aid her clearance and should destroy Huntley's meet record of 6 feet.
Mike Tully of UCLA, posted an amateur indoor best pole vault of 18-4 last week in the Ali meet, then called Comstock at 4:45 a.m. PST to accept congratulations. The effervescent Tully won last summer's World Cup competition with a personal high of 18-4 1/2 and hopes to follow challenger Dan Ripley's 1975 practice of adding a quarter inch a week to the indoor mark. Ripley's 18-1 clearance here is the meet record.
Not to be overlooked in tonight's field is Earl Bell, who held the outdoor mark until he loaned his pole to Dave Roberts and watched Roberts soar 18-18 1/4.
Bay was fourth in the Ali 1,500 meters, but that came after a gruelling 24-hour journey from his native Tanzania. He should be ready for his usual front-running effort tonight, although Paul Cummings is capable of sticking with him.
Dick Buerkle, who conquered Steve Prefrontaine in the two-mile at Cole in 1974, has transformed himself into a mile rabbit and could challenge those two. Completing the field are Georgetown's Jim Peterson, his training slowed this week by a sore ankle, and Villanova graduate Ken Schappert.
Nyambui, Bayi's countryman, is the two-mile favorite. There's a neat twist, in that Marty Liquori, the meet record holder in the mile (3:57.7), will contest the two-mile, Buerkle, the two-mile record man (8:26.2), is running the mile.
Sowerby defends his 600 title against Stan Vinson, who was coached by Sowerby a year ago but has now switched allegiance from Sowerby's D.C. Striders to the University of Chicago Track Club.
Larrieu, unchallenged in the women's mile, where she holds every record, is a logical choice to win the Vitalis-U.S. Olympic Track Guard Prix, a new concept desiged to improve indoor competition.
Bristol-Myers is presenting $20,000 to the U.S. Olympic Committee in the name of the outstanding athlete of the indoor season, as well as $5,000 to that athlete's club. The winner will be determined by performances in 14 events universal to 14 indoor meets, including the one here.