The downpour was nonstop, and, in an attempt to conquer a giant puddle that kept threatening to inundate the shot put circle, brooms were employed between every throw. The 16-pound iron ball felt slippery on Ian Pyka's fingers, and the footing was worse.
But the University of Maryland senior captain made the five longest throws in today's 103rd IC4A Track and Field Championships. Included was a 62-3 heave that washed away the oldest mark in the meet record book-62-1 3/4 by NYU's Gary Gubner in 1962.
"All I wanted this week was the record," said Pyka, who won his fifth IC4A career shot put championship. "I got it. But I'm not pleased. I wish it had gone further. Had the conditions been better . . .
"It affects how you cross the circle. You have to be careful you don't slip. I made a couple alterations in my technique. It still caused a lack of balance going to throw. But if you consider yourself the best in the East, that's the way you throw, regardless of conditions."
Manhatton's Manny Silverio (198-7, hammer throw) and Villanova's Amos Korir (29:01.3, 10,000 meters) were today's other winners. The inclement weather forced postponement of the long jump, in which Maryland's Bob Calhoun is the defending champ, and the competition ended with the Terps and favored Villanova tied with 10 points apiece. Sunday's schedule includes 17 finals as Maryland tries to avenge last year's 99-98 loss to the Wildcats, who won the 1979 NCAA indoor crown.
"Everyone knows what it means to beat Villanova and be number one in the East," Pyka said. "We've pushed them around a little, indoors and out. But it comes down to one meet a year, and this is it."
Villanova's Sydney Maree, who ran a South African national mile record of 3:53.7 this month, won his 1,500-meter heat in 3:38.5, 2.1 seconds under world mile indoor record-holder Eamonn Coghlan's meet record.
Most American track fans are not adapted to metric times, but Maree's heat translates to a 3:55.5 mile. The sophomore was coasting because he has the finals of the 1,500 and 5,000 meters Sunday.
Maryland's sprinters were also coasting, but Renaldo Nehemiah, who isn't hurdling in this meet, and Calhoun shared the fastest 100-meter qualifying time, 10.37. Freshman Chris Person was the quickest 400-meter hurdler in 51.03.
Pyka paid his way to Maryland for a year after transferring from Rhode Island, where he was an outside line-backer until a knee injury ended his football career.
"I tore a ligament, and the doctors told me not to risk further injury," said Pyka, a 6-1, 235-pounder. "Rhode Island didn't have a good track program. I just wish I'd come here to Maryland in the first place, straight out of high school. Then I could have really set some records. My best was 53 at Rhode Island. I've improved 10 feet since I transferred."
Pyka's best, 63-7, is third among the nation's collegians this season, despite a near-total lack of competition.
"Motivation is the biggest factor in a weight event," Pyka said. "It's a lot of psych. It's not like a race when you've got someone to chase. You're throwing against a tape measure. When there's not too many people, and you're next to a highway, you pretty much have to do it on your own."
Because Franklin Field has Astro-Turf, the shot put is held away from the stadium.
"Next year, I'm going to take the year off, go out West, and try to make the Olympics," Pyka said. "It's somewhat demoralizing to throw in the East. I don't know why that (meet) record lasted so many years. I'm going to throw out West against the better throwers next year because I need that competition."