For the first time in history, a Soviet Union men's track and field team today defeated the United States on American soil. The result, 118-100, was so decisive it was embarrassing.
The Soviet women, as expected, won six of seven events today for an easy 89-67 decision. The 40-point margin of the combined score, 207-167, was the fifth widest in the 18 dual meets between the two nations.
The crowning disaster for the American men came in the 4x400-meter relay, as the U.S. leadoff runner, Eugene Sanders, pulled a muscle on the first turn, giving the Soviets a walkover.
There were other problems for the American men, who competed with only six of the 19 first-place finishers in individual events at the TAC/USA meet, which served as a qualifier.
Although the Soviets have just embarked on their outdoor season, they obviously came to win. Whether the U.S. athletes had the same desire could be seriously questioned on the basis of today's long jump.
The best performance was turned in by Jason Grimes, the runner-up in the TAC/USA meet, who leaped a wind-aided 27-11. But he was entered as a nonscoring competitor, so the actual winner was the Soviets' Shamil Abbyasov at 27-7 1/4.
Grimes originally had said he would skip this meet, so Sam Adams, the U.S. men's coach, said a commitment had been made to Veryl Switzer and Mike Conley, neither of whom bettered 26 feet. Conley came here admitting he was hampered by a sprained ankle.
Three meet records were set today, all by the Soviets. Yuri Syedikh threw the hammer 264 feet, best ever on U.S. soil; Georgi Kolnootchenko won the discus at 227-10 and the women's 4x400-meter relay team was clocked in 3:25.50.
Mac Wilkins' meet standard of 217-2 in the discus, dating back to 1976 at College Park, Md., was bettered nine times, in a superb competition that saw Americans Art Burns (223-4) and John Powell (220-4) place second and third.
Jack McIntosh brought the crowd of 8,235 to its feet with a stretch drive that gave him the 800-meter title in 1:47.53. Other American men's winners were James Butler, a windy 20.29 in the 200; Andre Phillips, 49.13 in the 400-meter hurdles; Sydney Maree, 3:49.83 in the 1,500, and Henry Marsh, 8:39.53 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Butler maintained the U.S. record of never losing the 200 in the 18-meet series. However, Terron Wright was a badly beaten fourth, so the net American gain was only one point on the 5-3-2-1 scoring system.
The hurdles were a standoff, because the second American entry, Bernie Holloway, scratched because of a hamstring problem and no replacement was available.
Maree's time was distinctive, because it was the slowest winning figure in the 18 meets, even higher than Dyrol Burleson's 3:49.4 at Philadelphia in 1958. Maree covered the last lap in 51.0, but his quarter (66.9) and half (2:14.4) splits were noticeably slower than the splits in the women's 1,500.
"I did what I had to do today; I wanted to win, so I did what was necessary to win, in my first dual meet representing the United States of America," said Maree, an expatriate South African who will receive his U.S. citizenship in January.
A notable American achievement was recorded by walker Jim Heiring, second in the 20-kilometer event. Heiring, a three-minute loser to Soviet star Yevgeny Yevsukov in Norway a month ago, was only 23 seconds back this time and was more than two minutes ahead of the second Soviet walker, Nikolay Matveyev.
The only American woman to win today was Florence Griffith, with a wind-aided 22.23 time for 200 meters. Leann Warren, second in the 1,500, turned in a personal best of 4:05.88. On the whole, however, it was a disappointing day for the home side.
"We got whipped," said Bert Lyle, the women's coach. "We should have scored better in a lot of events, particularly the hurdles."
"The Russians had a little more than we expected," Adams said. "International competition is quite different from what a lot of our athletes are accustomed to. There's a great deal more tension involved. I think the young men and women who competed here this weekend will learn from it and be better prepared as a result."
Adams said Friday night's disqualification of Tony Darden, the 400-meter runner-up, for running out of his lane was a key factor in the start of the U.S. collapse. Darden, assigned to relay duty, swapped tasks with Cliff Wiley, the scheduled 400 starter, whose sole labor here turned out to be watching the Soviet walkover after Sanders went down.
There was still bitterness today over the two reversals of games committee decisions by the jury of appeals Friday night. In one, the Soviets' Nina Yepeyeva, second in the 3,000 meters, was reinstated after being disqualified for cutting off American Jan Merrill. In the other, the granting of an extra triple jump to Paul Jordan after his shoe ripped open on the runway was rescinded, dropping him from third to fourth.
In each case, the vote was 2-1, with the tie breaker cast by Primo Nebiolo, president of the International Amateur Athletics Federation. Asked to discuss the rulings, Nebiolo declined and sent a statement that read: "We have made the decision and the decision is the statement."
Nina Raldugina, second in the 1,500 today, was disqualified for fouling Warren. This time there was no Soviet appeal. The visitors were too busy celebrating.