When Greg Foster posted faster quarter-final and semifinal times than Renaldo Nehemiah, there was a buzzing about his chances of winning today's 110-meter high hurdles in the NCAA track championships. Forget it. Nehemiah ran away with the event in the fastest time ever, a wind-aided 12.91 seconds.
Even for three hurdles, Foster fell behind over the fourth, hit the seventh and pulled up at the eighth. Meanwhile, the smooth, steady Nehemiah was racing flawlessly across the finish line.
"Mother Nature beat me today," Nehemiah said of the wind, which was measured at 7.7 miles per hour, well above the 4.473 allowable for record purposes. But Nehemiah insisted it was of little concern.
"I don't want to get into a world record tempo," Nehemiah said. "I have the world record (13.00) and I'm glad to run 12.91, wind aided or not. But I didn't really care about the time today.
"This was my first race in going on three weeks and I'm still kind of rusty. Look for the AAU (June 15-17). That's my race. It means the most to me, because it's a qualifier for the World Cup and the Pan Am Games."
Nehemiah had problems of his own earlier, clipping four hurdles in winning his semifinal heat. So he was not surprised that Foster ran into difficulty.
"It was fast, as you can see, so fast that if you get caught up in one mistake, you can be out of it," Nehemiah said. "I went out for a fast time in the semis and I hit a hurdle and almost went down.
"Greg Foster got out better than usual and I knew I was in for a race. He was up with me for about three hurdles, then about the fourth hurdle I felt my move coming. I was lifting and I came on and I didn't know anything had happened to Greg until the race was over.
"If Greg over hits his best, you could get two sub-13 times on one track. It's not just a one-man show."
"I guess he just pushed me too much," said Foster, who embraced Nehemiah later. "I thought I was going to have my best race, because I got out even with him and I haven't that before. But I kept getting closer to the hurdles and, coming off the fifth, the wind gusted and took me into the sixth.
"I think that if I finished a godd race and Renaldo is right, we'll have two under 13."
The meet was not a one-man show, either, as a native Marylander, Jerome Deal of Aberdeen, whipped a great field of sprinters that included Harvey Glance, James Stanford, James Mallard and Willie Turner in the 100-meter final.
Deal, running 10 minutes after Nehemiah, was timed in a legal 10.19 seconds, the wind having died a bit. His points sent Texas-El Paso over the top and out of sight in what promised to be a runaway for the team title.
"I wouldn't consider myself one of the world's best sprinters," Deal said. "You have to be consistent to be one of the best and I'm not a consistent dude. I would like to have a name in sprinting, but I need experience for that."
Dave Laut Of UCLA, although denied use of his personal equipment, retained a shot put title with a throw of 66 feet 11 1/2 inches. Ian Pyka of Maryland fourth at 63-9 3/4 his lifetime best.
NCAA officials ruled Laut's shot illegal because it had a raised trademark.He still outdistanced the field by more than two feet with a shot furnished by the games committee.
Pyka failed to reach his goal of 65 feet, largely because of a pain in his side. The ailment developed Thursday and has prevented him from taking a full breath. Still, he and Laut were the only throwers to improve in the finals, Pyka jumping two places after an earlier best of 63-5 1/2.
"I was two centimetres out of fourth and that's what got me going," Pyka said. "If I'm going to lose, I want to lose by a lot. I'm going to rest up a little before the AAU and go for the 65 there. You can't push it. It's got to come. Once you start thinking about it, you start forcing it."
Scott Neilson of Washington became only the second athlete to capture four straight NCAA titles in the same event when he won the hammer throw at 237-3. Steve Prefontaine of Oregon was the other four-year man, taking the 5,000 meters or its three-mile equivalent from 1970-1973.
Suleiman Nyambui led a 1-2 Texas-El Paso finish in the 10,000 meters with a meet-record 28:01.30 and 1976 Olympian Larry Myricks took the long jump at 26-7 1/4. Virginia's Karl Williams advanced to Saturday's 400-meter hurdles final, but the Cavaliers' 1,600-meter relay team was eliminated. CAPTION: Picture, Greg Foster, right, shatters hurdle as Maryland's Renaldo Nehemiah skims to fastest time, 12.9. UPI