Maryland junior Marita Walton won her second straight shot put title in the U.S.A. Indoor Track and Field Championships Friday night, regaining her collegiate record with a throw of 55 feet 11 3/4 inches.
Afterward, Walton talked about the reasons for her big leap forward, as she added almost 20 inches to her personal best performance.
"I put in a lot of hard work on the weights over the winter and I'm a year older and a year stronger," she said. "I lost the collegiate record (to Arizona's Meg Ritchie) last year and I'm glad to have it back, but the best thing is the way so many people are throwing well. When you've got people pressing you, you're bound to perform better."
That, in essence, is the story of women's track. The increase in quality performers has produced better competition. Where once women's events were completed early, before most folks arrived, or used by spectators as a hot dog break, they now create as much excitement as the men's events, with the pole vault an obvious exception.
Certainly, in the 94th U.S.A. meet here Friday, the women furnished the greater part of the action. Almost every women's race, from 60 yards to two miles, was closely contested, with records falling everywhere, and the big boost in women's college track over the past five years was evident. Although Americans recognize indoor times as records, they are not accepted internationally.
The two-mile, traditionally a ho-hum affair, was a battle from start to finish, with Joan Hansen holding off Brenda Webb and Margaret Groos as all three went under fourth-place Francie Larrieu's indoor best time of 9:38.1, Hansen winning in 9:37.03.
Cathie Twomey, a University of Minnesota graduate who had not placed better than fourth in this indoor campaign, shocked the mile field with a pace-setting victory in the meet-record time of 4:32.92.
The starter for the mile was Mary Decker Tabb, who had destroyed all competition this winter with a series of record-breaking performances. She is nursing an ankle injury and elected not to run.
The 880 was another exciting race, as Leann Warren, an Oregon junior, sprintedpast Tennessee's Delisa Walton on the final turn to win by two yards in 2:04.61.
The 60-yard hurdles produced another blanket finish between Ohio State graduate Stephanie Hightower, the winner in 7.38, and Fairleigh Dickinson's Candy Young, second in 7.39.
In the 60, it was UCLA product Evelyn Ashford over Southern California's Jeanette Bolden in 6.54, which figures to become the indoor best time when Ashford's suspect 6.48 in San Diego is forgotten.
Veronica Bellof Cal Poly-Pomona came from nowhere to set an American indoor record of 21-11 3/4 in the long jump.