Jeff Woodard, a University of Alabama senior whose name was mispelled in the program, closed out the 93rd annual U.S.A. Annual Track Championships on a high note tonight when he high jumped 7 feet 7 3/4 inches to set an American indoor record.
After standing a half-inch to Franklin Jacobs' standard on his first try, Woodard took three shots at becoming the first person to leap 7-9, indoors or out. He failed but the first two were close enough to bring gasps from the remnants of a crowd of 15,891.
While Woodard performed on one side of the Madison Square Garden infield, Frenchmen Philippe Houvion and Thierry Vigneron were bidding for an indoor pole vault mark of 18-8 3/4 on the other. Vigneron, who had the height on his first attempt but could not control the pole, won the event because he cleared a meet-record 18-4 1/2 on his first try. Houvion needed two attempts.
Eamonn Coghlan of Ireland won the three mile in 12:54.8, second fastest time in history, but the absence of early pressure left the mile record holder two-tenths of a second off the 1976 indoor best of Belgium's Emiel Puttemans. Dick Buerkle, 33, provided a late push, finished second in 12:58.0 and earned a standing ovation.
The meet was clouded by numerous withdrawals, prompting meet director Heliodoro Rico to say angrily, "All our no-shows were confirmed by their coaches."
Many of the winners were as angry as Rico. Alejandro Casanas of Cuba won the 60-yard highs in 7.14 seconds, ahead of Rod Milburn, and said, "I saw Renaldo Nehemiah's name in the paper and in the program. I came here to compete against him. I'm disappointed he's not here."
Nehemiah was in Madison Square Garden for a while, after arriving too late to compete in the 12:45 p.m. quarterfinals, and his attorney, Ron Stanko, said, "Renaldo left his shoes in D.C. last night and this morning missed two planes, two early shuttles, that would have got him here on time By the time he got a shuttle, it was too late for the competition."
Brian Oldfield won the shot put at 69 feet 4 inches, blamed his failure to produce the Garden's first 70-foot throw on the slippery, enameled surface, and then demolished the judges stand with a well-aimed kick.
Larry Myricks took the long jump at 26-8 1/4, his only legal jump in six attempts, and, as the announcer read off the series, intoning "foul" five times, Myricks turned and barked "foul" in disgusted unison.
It was a good night for Washington area competitors, especially Benita Fitzgerald of Woodbridge, Va., and the University of Tennessee. Fitzgerald won the 60-yard hurdles in 7.72 seconds, beating Britain's Sharon Colyear, Karen Wechsler and Candy Young. Stephanie Hightower, who has the fastest indoor time, was an ousted third in Fitzgerald's semifinal.
"Last year when I would hear the names Candy Young and Stephanie Hightower, I'd be content to run for third," Fitzgerald said. "They used to intimidate me, but not any more."
Marita Walton of the University of Maryland won the shot put at 52-11, edging Denise Wood by four inches. Walton, fifth last year, had five throws over 51 feet.
Fred Sowerby of D.C. International, trying for a third straight 600 title, was beaten by inches by Mike Solomon