Alberto Salazar and Sydney Maree, New York's outdoor running stars, move to the banked boards of New Jersey's Byrne Meadowlands Arena tonight as the men to watch in the first major meet of the indoor track campaign, the Olympic Invitational.
Salazar, who set a world record in the New York Marathon in October, renews his rivalry with Suleiman Nyambui of Tanzania in the 5,000 meters. Nyambui overhauled Salazar with two laps left in the 1981 Millrose Games and set the existing indoor 5,000 record of 13:20.4.
Another record race is possible tonight, particularly since the new Meadowlands track is only 10 laps to the mile, without the ultratight turns of Madison Square Garden's 11-lap facility.
Maree, the winner of the Fifth Avenue Mile in September, is the favorite to capture the mile tonight, with Eamonn Coghlan sidelined by a stress fracture in the right shin bone and Steve Scott competing in Australia. Challenging Maree in the only event to be contested at a linear distance are Ray Flynn of Ireland, Thomas Wessinghage of West Germany, Robert Nemeth of Austria and Georgetown senior John Gregorek.
The women's 1,500 lists an outstanding field, headed by Gabriella Dorio of Italy, ranked third in the world outdoors. The domestic entrants include Mary Decker, Francie Larrieu, Leann Warren and Jan Merrill.
Renaldo Nehemiah and Greg Foster start off another year of head-to-head knocking in the 55-meter hurdles, where Nehemiah holds the indoor record of 6.89 seconds. Rod Milburn, Willie Gault, Rod Wilson, Kerry Bethel and Terron Wright are in the field, with the heats at 7:05 p.m. inaugurating the principal phase of the competition.
Houston McTear, Stanley Floyd, Herschel Walker, Jeff Phillips, Harvey Glance, Neville Hodge and Darren Walker head the 55-meter sprint entries.
The high jump has promise of some outstanding performances with Dietmar Mogenburg and Carlo Thranhardt of West Germany matching leaps with Navy's Leo Williams, Jeff Woodard, Nat Page, Benn Fields and Dwight Stones.
Carl Lewis, who has leaped 28-3 1/2 outdoors, once again will try to become the first long jumper to better 28 feet indoors. His sister Carol competes in the 55-meter hurdles against Candy Young, Stephanie Hightower and the pride of Woodbridge, Va., Benita Fitzgerald.
Don Paige faces Mike Boit, Vince Draddy and James DeRienzo in the 1,000. James Robinson is the 800 favorite, battling Peter Lemashon, Sammy Koskei and Mark Belger.