Although clipping the last two hurdles in his impatience to reach the tape, Maryland's Renaldo Nehemiah set a meet record of 6.90 seconds, one-hundredth off his world mark, and retained his 60-yard hurdles title today at the NCAA Indoor Track Championships.
The favorite of the 8,200 fans in Cobo Arena, however, was Suleiman Nyambui, the Texas-EL Paso import from Tanzania. Fifty minutes after he captured the two-mile run today, Nyambui returned to set a meet record of 3:57.89 in the mile.
While Nyambui was taking a victory lap to the crowd's applause, UTEP received a disabling blow to its hopes for a fifth team tile in six years. The Miners' runner-up two-mile relay team was disqualified, leaving the way clear for Villanova to take team honors with a victory in the concluding mile relay.
The Wildcats did not miss the opportunity, posting a front-running 3:15.52 to avoid the spills created by close quarters behind. That 10-point package gave Villanova 52 points, Texas-El Paso 51. Maryland placed sixth with 22.
Nehemiah had a clear lead by the first hurdle and finished two yards in front of West Virginia's split end, Garnet Edwards. But he lost a world record by tipping the fourth hurdle and banging the fifth somewhat harder.
"That did definitely cost me the record," Nehemiah said. "I didn't get out of the blocks too well, I was pressing a bit and I hit a couple of hurdles. I was impatient. I was trying to get over the hurdles too soon. I lost my cool a little bit.
"I was hoping for a record performance, but to be able at the end of the season to run within a hundredth of a second of the world record -- I'm more than pleased to be so consistent. I've already accomplished the world record, so it doesn't discredit me not to set it."
While Nehemiah was breaking the tape, teammate Greg (Fly) Robertson was fulfilling his faith in himself by finishing fifth. Robertson, a close third in this meet a year ago, suffered a broken ankle in an automobile accident in Finland last summer.No one, except Robertson, expected him to run this winter.
"When I first came back with the cast on, I decided I was going to go to school and compete," said Robertson, who still has a pin in the ankle. "I knew with good caliber competition I'd get my stuff back. Even my coach had no confidence in me, but I knew I could do it."
"Seeing Fly make All-America gives me more satisfaction than anything all season," said Maryland Coach Frank Costello. "He kept telling me, 'Coach, by the NCAA I'll be there,' and I didn't pay any attention to him."
Nyambui was not pressed in the twomile, so he had a reasonable opportunity to become the third man to complete the mile double, accomplished previously by Jim Ryun and Marty Liquori.
The time was inconceivable, however, since Ryun had set the meet record of 3:58.6 on these tight Cobo turns in 1967 and great milers like Liquori, Tony Waldrop, Eamonn Coghlan and Wilson Waigwa had failed to better it.
Yet there was Nyambui, with 130 yards to go, waving to the crowd as he raced away from Villanova's Sydney Maree to seemingly assure the team title for UTEP. Then came the announcement of the realay disqualificaton.
On the three-quarters leg, Notre Dame's Chuck Aragon had beaten an elbow tattoo on UTEP's Jan Boogman, who responded by pushing Aragon away. Aragon fell, but it was UTEP that suffered the most.
"I couldn't see what exactly happened where I was, but my runner went practically off the outside of the track and it probably cost us a chance to win the race," said UTEP Coach Ted Banks. "Sometimes you feel you're getting the shaft and that's the way I feel today. I know deep down we're the best team and I guess that's what really matters."
Don Paige was one of Villanova's heroes, racing to a meet record of 2:07.27 in the 1,000-yard run. Greg Canty, the Broad Run High product competing for Virginia, was a distant second despite a 2:08.99 clocking.
Anthony Tufariello, whose fall in the mile relay a year ago cost Villanova a possible team title, atoned this year. He won the 600 in 1:09.41 -- Martin McGrady set the hand-timed meet record of 1:09.4 in 1966 -- and ran the fastest leg, 48.0, on the runaway milerelay team.
Maryland placed fourth in the mile relay, in which three teams were victims of spills, in 3:20.19, with Darryl Bryant running the best leg, 48.6. The Terrapins' Mike Corbin failed to clear 7 feet in the high jump, won by Jim Pringle of Florida at 7-2 3/4.
Georgetown finished fourth in the two-mile relay in 7:34.9, as Kevin Byrne anchored in a capable 1:52.2.