e can still jump high enough to clear Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and his trackside disposition hasn't sweetened much with age. If there is a four-star track and field production, you can be sure Dwight Stones is somewhere onstage, complaining about accommodations and proclaiming himself the athlete to beat. And, often, including tonight, proving it.
"Somebody is going to have to break an American record to beat me," said Stones, a former world-record high jumper and one of his sport's naughty boys who has kept critics baffled as to how he can jump so high with a foot in his mouth. "I feel ready to blow one out."
And then Stones went out and won the high jump and set a National Sports Festival record of 7 feet 6 1/2 inches.
Stones, a two-time Olympic bronze medalist, missed on three attempts at a new U.S. record of 7-7 3/4 after outjumping four other men, all of whom cleared 7-5. Among that group was Howard University's William Leo.
While the high jumpers were dueling, the men's 5,000-meter run got this crowd of 13,000 people stomping. Craig Virgin, the American record holder at 10,000 meters, led the race until the last half-lap when he was outsprinted by Indiana Hoosier runner Jim Spivey and Chris Fox of Auburn. Spivey, the NCAA 1500-meter champion, set a meet record with a time of 13 minutes 33.47 seconds.
In the women's 1500 meters, three-time Olympian Francie Larrieu put on a sprint with 200 meters to go to pass four younger runners for the gold.
"I always like to beat girls that are younger than me," said the 29-year-old distance runner. "When I look at the starting line and see girls being coached by people I used to travel with 10 years ago, that's when you know you're getting old," said a laughing Larrieu.
The men's 100-meter dash was won by Calvin Smith of Mississippi in a meet record of 10.05 seconds. The sprint suffered the absence of Carl Lewis, tops in the world in that event. Lewis, after his prodigious 28-foot-9 long jump the night before, decided to watch the race from the stands.
"I wasn't disappointed he didn't run," said Smith, clutching his gold.
The women's 100 was won by Evelyn Ashford of California in 11.04 seconds.
The women's long jump attracted an unusual amount of attention because of Carol Lewis, Carl's 19-year-old sister. She could do no better than third place, however, losing to Jodi Anderson, the American record holder. Anderson broke a meet record with a jump of 22-9.
In the men's discus throw, John Powell, a former policeman from San Jose, Calif., set a meet record with a throw of 218 feet 4 inches. That was two feet better than the throw of Ben Plucknett, also of San Jose. This was Plucknett's first competition since being suspended internationally last year for using steroids. At the time of his suspension Plucknett had set a world record which was disallowed.
Susan Brownell, 21, a University of Virginia graduate from Hagerstown, Md., placed second tonight in the women's heptathlon. Patsy Walker of Yelm, Wash., finished first with a score that was the fifth highest in the sport's history.
Carl Lewis, the 20-year-old who came within 5 1/2 inches of breaking Bob Beamon's 14-year-old world record Saturday night, undoubtedly created the most excitement during the track and field portion of this National Sports Festival. But Stones is the athlete fans craned their necks to see.
"Nobody knows what can be done," said Stones, who is now 28. "Most athletes are pressured out of their sports before they reach their full potential."