A 45-minute rainstorm that fell during the fifth annual Maryland Track Classic yesterday at Byrd Stadium didn't hamper the seven long-distance fanatics from Athletics West.
Mike Manke and Jim Crawford finished one-two in the 1,500-meter race and teammates Phil Kane and Denis Fikes finished fifth and sixth. Jeff Wells and Craig Virgin ran one-two in the 5,000 meters and George Malley was never headed in capturing the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
"We're used to the rain. We've been practicing in weather like this in Portland, Ore.," said the 26-year-old Manke, minutes after missing the meet record by 1.9 seconds.
Manke, Crawford and Fikes, the defending meet record holder and Rich Rothschild (William & Mary) were locked in a tight struggle going into the gun lap.
With 300 yards to run, Manke, a fromer Oklahoma State runner competing in only his first 1,500 this year, bolted to the outside and never looked back. He won by seven yards in 3:46.3.
"I just sat back to see how I'd feel," he said. "I've only been out twice this year." When Tiny (Kane) went ahead on the final lap, I knew if I was going to win I'd better make a move right away."
Wells, Virgin, who barely missed qualifying for the 1976 Olympics, and Greg Fredericks of Athletic Attic, turned the 5,000 into a three-man race after1 1/2 miles.
The three jockeyed back and forth for the lead until Virgin shot ahead with a lap to run. Fredericks finally faded to third as Wells poured it on down the stretch to ease past Virgin and win in the record time of 13:43.5.
All three runners easily eclipsed the meet mark of 14:09.4 set by Fredericks last year.
"Our plan was to change positions every two laps but Fredricks surprised both of us when he went to the lead," said Wells, a former All-America from Rice. "Craig did most of the work in the race. I just stayed close until the final lap. Then we both went out hard."
Malley, from DuVal High and Penn State, went to the front early and had no trouble besting the field in the steeplechase. He won handily in a time of 8:44.7, just 2.6 seconds off the stadium record.
University of Maryland track fans were a little disappointed when Renaldo Nehemiah and Greg Robertson, two of the world's finest hurdlers, sat out their specialty yesterday.
"We just got back from Jamaica at 2:30 this morning (Saturday) and they're a little beat," said Terrapin Coach Frank Costello.
The two had enough energy to join Andre Lancaster and Bo Kemp in the 440 relay, a race they won by five yards in a time of 41.3.
The only other victories the Terps could claim came in the field. Bob Calhoun and Kemp finished one-two in the long jump and Ian Pyka won the shot.
Mike Corbin, a transfer student at Maryland competing unattached, set the only other record. His leap of 6-foot-11 bettered the old high jump mark by an inch. Former Clemson jumper Ed Fern also jumped 6-11 to finish second by way of more misses.
In the quick races, Mel Abernathy of the Philadelphia Pioneers destroyed the field in the 100 meters, winning by three strides in a time of 10.5.
Neville Hodge, Morgan State's top sprinter, easily crossed the finish line in 20.8 seven yards ahead of his nearest competition in the 200 meters.
John Long of the Florida Track Club and Larry Bunting of Shore A.C. raced stride for stride in the 110-meter hurdle but slipped and never regained his momentum. Bunting took advantage of Long's misfortune to win by a chest.
Howard's mile relay quarter ofwZack Jones, Reggie Sojourner, Mike Archie and Richard Massey had no competition. The foursome finished well ahead of a good field in a time of 3:11.6. Archie gave Massey a seven-yard advantage and the anchorman stretched it to 10 before slowing down at the finish.