It was in the Millrose Games a year ago that Maryland's Renaldo Nehemiah first commanded worldwide attention. He returns Friday night needing another phenomenal performance to create a similar stir.
Nehemiah clocked 7.07 for a 60-yard high hurdles world indoor record in the 1978 Millrose meet, but he since has lowered that mark to 6.88, on the same Madison Square Garden track in the Olympic Invitational Jan. 30.
In his last five major indoor races -- omitting a triangular meet at Navy -- Nehemiah has established world marks. He now holds the standards at 50 and 60 yards and 55 and 60 meters. Realistically, he can do little more indoors.
"Right now my principal aim is to work myself into the proper condition for the outdoor season," Nehemiah said. "I've been competing twice a week, but from now on I'll just race once, except for the AAU-ACC weekend late this month."
If Nehemiah can be pushed to another record, the Millrose Games have the proper ingredients. Facing him are Greg Foster, who temporarily shared the indoor mark of 6.95 following their tie in Philadelphia; Dedy Cooper, who has won eight of 10 indoor events, and veterans Charles Foster and Larry Shipp.
High jumper Franklin Jacobs created a worldwide following of his own in the 1978 Millrose Games by leaping 7 feet 7 1/4 inches for a world mark that has been raised to 7-8 1/2 by the Soviet Union's Vladimir Yashchenko. Jacobs is thinking 7-9 this week, but he is handicapped by the absence of top-flight competition.
"I've seen the height now," said Jacobs, who came close in Los Angeles, "and I've approached it.What I plan to do Friday night is not waste any time at the lower heights. I'll start higher and, assuming it's just myself after a certain height, I'm prepared to be competing through the night against the bar.
"In the past, I always tended to compete against the athletes, but that hasn't worked out. Once I reach 7-4, I don't expect too many of them to be around any more."
The mile presents New Zealand's John Walker, trying to rebound from an awful showing in Edmonton, against Ireland's Eamonn Coghlan, who has won 20 of 21 major indoor miles; defending champion and indoor record holder Dick Buerkle; fellow Americans Steve Scott and Paul Cummings, and Africans Wilson Waigwa and Sydney Maree.
The 1,000 offers the first head-to-head clash of Villanova alumnus Mark Belger and current Wildcat star Don Paige. Belger is unbeaten indoors in the 800 to 1,000 range since 1976, Paige since 1977.
Dan Ripley, who pole vaulted 18-5 3/4 at Edmonton but had an indoor record disallowed for technical reasons, will try again to erase Mike Tully's mark of 18-5 1/4. Tully is in the field, along with Earl Bell and Dave Roberts.
Stan Vinson and Fred Sowerby continue their hot rivalry in the 600, while Houston McTear battles Steve Riddick, Steve Williams and Harvey Glance in the 60.
Jan Merrill will attempt a double in the women's 880 yards and 1,500 meters, with the races scheduled two hours apart. Charlotte Bradley will challenge in the 880, Francie Larrieu in the 1,500.
Benita Fitzgerald, the swift youngster from Virginia's Gar-Field High, is a late addition to the 60-yard hurdles field, where she must face indoor record holder Deby LaPlante.
A sellout of more than 18,000 was reported Tuesday, the earliest sellout since Paavo Nurmi's post-Olympic appearance in 1925.