Steve Scott, straining mightily with every stride, overhauled Sydney Maree in the last 20 yards today to win the mile in 3:52.26 at the Jumbo Elliott Invitational track meet. Then the American and the South African took a victory lap, arm in arm, while the 9,200 fans saluted the fastest mile ever run in the East.

It was not the only great effort today. James Robinson, the two-time U.S. Olympian, whipped Mark Enyeart and Mike Boit in the 800 meters in 1:44.63 and was named the outstanding athlete of the meet.

Robinson's time was the fastest in the world this year and the only better clocking in 1980 was the 1:44.53 by Don Paige, who was a spectator today with knee and ankle injuries.

It was the prospect of the mile however, that kept the crowd in an amiable mood through a humid afternoon marked by frequent scratches and many routine performances. Nobody was disappointed, either, with the meet, named after the late Villanova track coach.

Villanova's John Hunter led through a 1:59 half, then indoor record holder Eamonn Coghlan moved in front. Georgetown's John Gregorek tried to steal the race at the bell, but Maree charged past him and Scott followed.

The fans were behind the South African, a Villanova senior, but he could not hold off Scott, who covered the final lap in 52.6 seconds, his lifetime best.

Maree ran 3:52.44 and John Walkers was third in 3:55.89 as the first six finishers bettered four minutes. Gregorek was fifth in 3:57.10, his personal best.

"It was humid for me -- I'm from Tempe, Ariz., and 15 percent is a humid day there," Scott said. "I felt bad when I woke up and I was hoping for an easy-type race that wouldn't take a lot of energy. But I had to really dig deep to go by him in the last 110.

"I knew Sydney was fit and on his home track, in front of his home fans, he figured to be tough. The Jumbo Elliott mile means more to him than me, because I didn't know Jumbo."

"When I saw Steve's knee, I knew it was going to be a kill to the finish," Maree said. "I'm not upset that I lost. I'm happy with the times we established."

Robinson was last, as usual, after the first lap of the 800, although he ran that quarter in 51.6. He moved into third with 200 meters left, then outkicked Boit to win. Enyeart closed fast to edge Boit for second.

"This is the first time I beat Boit this year," Robinson said. "He's been dogging me. I keyed on him because I knew he was going to go. He hasn't been finishing strong but he's been killing me on the backstretch. I just tried to keep my form and see who died first."

Edwin Moses won his 62nd straight intermediate hurdles final, dating back to 1977, as he ran away from so-so field in 48.65 seconds. Moses, obviously unchallenged, was leaning backward as he cleared a couple of hurdles late in the race. It was Moses' first appearance in the East since the 1976 Penn Relays.

James Walker was second, almost two seconds back, and Maryland's Chris Person somewhat atoned for his poor showing here in last week's IC4A meet by placing third in 50.88.

Renaldo Nehemiah, who has a chipped bone in his right foot, was introduced before the start of the high hurdles. His chief rival, Greg Foster, missed his flight here, so Dedy Cooper enjoyed an easy victory in 13.65 seconds.

Alice Jackson of D.C. International won the woman's 400 meters in 53.55.

She tied up badly near the finish, but held off Dian Dixon by three yards.

Michele Collins, a sophomore from Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., took a pair of third places. She was time in an excellent 12.04 for the 100, as Grace Jackson prevailed in 11.95, and clocked 24.33 for the 200, won by Beverly Kearny in 23.99.

Jan Merrill was selected outstanding female athlete for her 9:03.71 victory in the 3,000-meter run.