If Ward Wilson had known that he would manage only 23 feet 11 inches in the long jump at today's IC4A Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the Maryland senior probably would have stayed home.

That mediocre distance proved reason for celebration on this wet, chilly afternoon, however. On a slippery runway with the rain pouring down, it provided a comfortable 7 3/4-inch victory that boosted Maryland's hopes for a third straight team title.

The Terrapins enter Sunday's concluding program with 25 points for a seven-point margin over Boston University and host Princeton, which last captured an IC4A championship in 1876. Villanova and Seton Hall are pointless, but have enough men in Sunday's 16 finals to come out on top.

Augie Wolf ignited Princeton's dreams of an upset with a quarter-inch triumph over Art McDermott of Boston U. in the shot put. Wolf threw the 16-pounder 61-3 on his fifth attempt to avenge a last-throw loss in March's indoor IC4A meet.

Wilson, a product of Churchill High in Potomac, was a disgusted athlete after that indoor meet. Barely fouling on a 25-plus leap, he finished fourth at 24-4 1/2, just 1 1/2 inches out of first place. It was a blow that started Maryland's disintegration in finishing third behind Fairleigh Dickinson and Villanova.

The Wildcats, seeking a 14th outdoor team title, have to be down after freshman John Marshall, the Penn Relays MVP and 800-meter favorite here, finished a nonqualifying fifth in a semifinal.

The man who nipped Marshall for the fourth berth in the final was Brian McNelis of Georgetown, in 1:52.0. The Terrapins are looking for help from another Hoya, John Gregorek, on Sunday, as Gregorek attempts a 1500-5000 double that could reduce Villanova's point potential in those events.

Maryland can help itself in the 1500. Per Kristoffersen, the Atlantic Coast Conference champion, recorded the best qualifying time of 3:44.5 today and looked very strong under difficult conditions.

Maryland got a big break in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles semifinals. Chris Person, the favorite, chopped his steps badly and was a struggling fourth, with only three to advance, when third-place Barry Robinson of Penn State fell over the last hurdle, enabling Person to qualify in 51.88.

Person was a nonqualifying seventh in his heat of the 110-meter high hurdles. In 1980, Person won the intermediates and placed second in the highs. Last year he earned only one point, for sixth in the intermediates.

Maryland's Vince Reilly failed in a bid for a second straight double, unable to qualify for Sunday's pole vault final after retaining his decathlon title Friday. Reilly apparently was worn out by the effort needed to overcome Penn's Frank Harrison, who held an 18-point lead entering the climactic 1,500 meters of the 10-event ordeal.

George Mason was prevented from running the 4x400 despite a unique excuse. The Patriots were involved in an accident on the way up here and the back of the card with the relay entry was used to write down information for the police. Forgetting to submit a duplicate, George Mason was not permitted to run, as a last-minute appeal was rejected.

Charlie Bevier of Syracuse set a meet record of 28:58.5 in winning the 10,000 meters.