For two years, Maryland could not win the IC4A outdoor track and field championships despite the multiple-victory presence of Renaldo Nehemiah. Today, without Nehemiah, the Terrapins got the job done.
Not only was Nehemiah absent, Maryland rolled up 100 points without any senior scoring a point. Maryland track, like Jim Kehoe and Frank Costello, definitely is back.
The big man today at Franklin Field was sophomore Chris Person, a man chastised by Costello for subpar performances that helped cost Maryland the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the first time in 25 years.
Person blasted more than a half second off the meet record in the 400-meter hurdles by clocking 49.46 seconds. Later, he came to the starting line of the 110-meter hurdles, Nehemiah's speciality, with Maryland and Villanova tied at 84 points apiece.
The Wildcats' Rodney Wilson, the overwhelming favorite, won the event in a meet-record 13.87 seconds. But Person, who rarely attempts the high hurdles, was right behind him in 14.16. That made it 94-92 in Villanova's favor, with the 200 meters and the 1,600-meter relay remaining.
Villanova had no more competitors; Maryland had Jim Green in the 200 and a relay team. So the band of Terrapins in the stands prepared to celebrate when Green came in fourth or better -- except that Green was in the spectator area with them.
"I was in the stands drinking water before the race," Green said. "I thought the race was at 6:10 (instead of 5:10). I got down three minutes before the race and I wasn't really ready. Considering, I think I ran a good race."
It was good enough, 21.22 for second place, to bring those Terrapin backers out of the stands in triumph. Green wound up waving a Maryland flag in the infield. He also wound up with a sore foot, which cost the Terrapins any relay points.
Andre Lancaster had pulled his right hamstring earlier and Costello has listed only one substitute, Green. So Green ran, to please his three relay teammates, but he fell far back on the third leg and Person was unable to make up enough ground to score.
Lancaster's pull came on the anchor leg of the 400-meter relay, the day's first event. He was in first place, having just taken a perfect pass from Green, who waved his index finger in "No. 1" joy moments before a potential 10 points became nothing. Villanova, anchored by Carlton Young, won it instead and the Wildcats were in position to roll it up.
According to the Philadelphia papers and the meet program, where a headline read "It Should Be Villanova -- Barring Divine Intervention," Villanova had a lot of guys who came here thinking differently.
Cornelious Cousins leaped 52 feet for second place in the triple jump, after winning the long jump Saturday.
Al Baginski, fifth coming up to his final throw in the discus, reached 180 feet 2 inches and grabbed second place, by five inches.
Danny Lamp leaped 17 feet for the first time and placed second in the pole vault, behind the meet-record 17-2 3/4 of Rhode Island's Mark Strawderman.
Darryl Bryant clocked an excellent 46.89 to place fourth in the 400 meters.
"I thought we had the relay won until Andre pulled," Green said. "That cost us a lot, but I think it also brought us more together. We wanted to win more and we knew we still had a chance with all our guys in the field events."
"We had a lot of low and negative feeling at the Acc," Person said. "Today we pulled together and saw how well we could do when everybody got in the right frame of mind.
"I ran well because I've been resting. Your body breakes down after a while and I never got a chance to rest before. That's why I wasn't doing so well for a while. Now I feel great. I'm going to the NCAA and the Olympic trials and my goal is 47."
That is in the 400 hurdles; Person has no further plans for the 100 highs, which he ran so well today on "instinct and memory."
Don Paige repeated his 800-1,500 double of last year for Villanova, Amos Korir outkicked Georgetown's John Gregorek to repeat his steeple-chase-10,000 double and Sydney Maree once again won the 5,000 besides placing second in the 1,500. This time it was not enough.
Young, Villanova's relay hero, pulled a muscle in his right leg inches before he reaches the 100-meter finish line. He placed second instead of winning easily and was unable to run the 200, where he was favored. So the pulls evened out.
Franklin Jacobs of Fairleigh Dickinson took his fourth straight high jump title, edging Leo Williams of Navy on fewer misses as both cleared 7-3. Williams, a plebe, had never topped 7-1 3/4 before. Jeff Colvin of Navy was third in the 400 meters at 46.62.
Maryland was aided by two George Mason runners, Michael Stafford and Matt Wilson, who placed fourth and fifth in the 5,000 ahead of Villanova's Dean Childs, depriving the Wildcats of three points.