Renaldo Nehemiah lacked a phone booth and a cape today. He wasn't much slower than a speeding bullet, though, as he carried Maryland to three relay championships with as blazing a display of speed as the Penn Relays have ever seen.
Nehemiah came from 10 yards back, on an outside lane in the staggered race to overhaul Louisiana State's Orlando McDaniel and win the 800-meter relay. Nehemial's recorded time with the running start was 19.4 seconds: the world record for 200 meters is 19.83.
In the climatic 1.600-meter event. Nehemiah took the baton 25 yards behind Villanova's Tim Dale and 20 in back of Tennessee's Antone Blair. Just as fans told each other that Nehemiah could not do it again, he did. With an incredible 44.3-second anchor -- the world record is 43.86 -- Nehemiah swept past both to win again.
"He isn't God -- he can't win this one." former Penn Athletic Director Fred Shabel said moments before Nehemiah accelerated and cut down the opposition.
After the amazing 200. Maryland Coach Frank Costello said. "I was shocked to see the way he made up ground on a kid like that as effort-lessly as he did. I should know better, because he's done so many things.I don't know what he's capable of. He was like a torpedo going through a target."
Yet Costello didn't learn his lesson. "I don't think he had a prayer when he got the baton," Costello admitted after the 1,600.
Nehemiah didn't, either.
"I was kind of down when I got the stick." he said. "Both the Tennessee and Villanova anchors are capable of 45, so I just wanted to make it respectable.
"As the race developed, though, I was reeling people in. I was catching the Tennessee guy real easy and then I saw Dale struggling. I felt very strong off the turn, so I figured I'd jump him now, rather than gut it out on the straightaway."
Nehemiah holds the world record in the 110-meter high hurdles, but the only hurdling he did in this 85th edition of America's most prestigious relay carnival was to anchor the Terrapins to victory in a shuttle hurdles event slowed by AstroTurf wet from a lengthy rain.
Chris Person and Don Berich ran the first two legs of the shuttle hurdles, Greg Robertson made up a five-yard deficit on the third leg and then Nehemiah destroyed the opposition from his only even start of the day. The hurdles event was a big target for Maryland, which was disqualified after finishing first a year ago. Nehemiah having been decreed an early starter.
"We wanted to win that one, but I skipped the individual hurdles here to find out what other qualities I have" Nehemiah said. "I get a lot of flak from athletes who say 100 yards isn't anything, so I wanted a chance to show everyone I could contend outside of the hurdles.
"Lots of time I don't like to run events like this, because even if the team is out of it I want to do the best I can and make up ground, and you have to pay a price. I thought the 800 took all I had, but I told everybody I'd run the quarter the best I could. I was surprised that I felt so good. That's the first time I've ever been under 46."
Nehemiah will run both the hurdles and the 200 in the NCAA Championships and eventually his goal is to set a world record in the 400-meter hurdles.
Bob Calhoun, Andre Lancaster and Darryl Bryant preceded Nehemiah in the 800 and the first two baton passes hurt the Terrapins, who were timed in 1:23.55.
In the 1,600, Mark Fields got Maryland in a hole with a 49.3 opening 400, but freshman Person clocked a superb 46.9 and Bryant, a freshman from Philadelphia who kept his teammates fed on this trip, ripped off an excellent 46.7.
Maryland's 1,600 success, in an official 3:07.12, wrecked Villanova's hopes of another five-victory day at the Relays. Until Dale fied up and Nehemiah became airborne, it was another great day for the Wildcats in this event in which no team scores are recorded.
The sprint medley and 3,200 were runaways for the Wildcats, who had captured the distance medley Friday. In the 6,000, however. Villanova was pushed to a collegiate record of 14:59.35 by a tenacious Georgetown team that finished second in an American record time of 15:04.14.
South African Sydeny Maree ran a 3:40.7 anchor 1.500 to pull away from the Hoyas' Jim DeRienzo, who had moved ahead on the last leg, DeRienzo posted a fine 3:44.5 and freshman John Gregorek, who moved Georgetown to the lead at the half-way point, clocked 3:44.7. Bill Ledder opened in 3:48.6 and Kevin Byrne ran a 3:46.4 third leg.
Gelorgetown finished third in the 3.200 meters despite DeRienzo's 1:49.1 third leg and Aubrey McKithen's 1:49.5 anchor. Amos Korir broke it open for Villanova with a 1:50.5 second leg and Anthony Tufariello and Don Paige enjoyed an easy time in posting a 7:19.98. Georgetown, which was further victimized by Jack McIntosh's 1:46.8 anchor for Western Michigan, clocked 7:24.04. CAPTION: Picture, Johns Hopkins midfielder Wayne Davis (30) sweeps third-period goal between Maryland's Randy Ratliff, left, and Ed Pray. By Richard Darcev -- The Washington Post