Carl Lewis became the first in 38 years to win both the long jump and the 60-yard dash and Stephanie Hightower ran a world best in the women's 60-yard high hurdles in tonight's USA/Mobil Track and Field Championships. But Billy Olson, who had hoped to top his still fresh indoor pole vault mark of 19 feet 1 3/4 inches, could manage only 18-8 3/4, still good enough to win and set a meet record.
Olson had begun vaulting at the 18-1 mark, and when the bar was set at 19-0 3/4 he almost cleared it once. But he brushed an elbow across the bar as he came down, and so did the bar. On his next try, he knocked the bar down as he went over.
Olson, who won $10,000 for earning the most points in the 14-meet Grand Prix series, said he and runner-up Dan Ripley, who reached the same height as Olson but had more misses, would try again Sunday to break the record, which, like all indoor marks, will be unofficial.
Like many of the athletes here tonight, Olson will compete in the Vitalis/U.S. Olympic Invitational at the Meadowlands Sunday afternoon.
Miler Eamonn Coghlan is also looking forward to that meet. Coghlan, who had entertained hopes of bettering his indoor record of 3.50.6 tonight, instead turned in a relatively slow time of 3.58.05 in winning.
"My plan was to make one decisive move with one lap to go," he said, and his plan worked, although not to perfection. Boxed inside early on by Steve Scott and Ray Flynn, Coghlan maintained a steady enough pace to stay close to the leaders and at the gun lap turned on new speed, circled the fading Scott and pulled away to win.
"When I got by Steve, I knew he couldn't catch me on this short straightaway," Coghlan said, looking more refreshed than most competitors. Asked if he was concerned about being boxed so tightly for so much of the race, he said, "It concerned me a little. But with two laps to go, there was Scott looking desperate for a good position, and then he and Flynn got into a tangle, leaving me room."
Coghlan said he shouted at Ross Donoghue to move over "and he very kindly did, so I moved outside and I was able to get out that way.
"I never doubted it for a mintue," he said. Coghlan said he wasn't bothered much by the slow time, and believes the surface at the Meadowlands might be more conducive to a record time.
"It's only 10 laps for a mile there, and psychologically doing one less is an advantage," he said. "It's also very steeply banked. Hopefully, the splits will be even and that will help determine a record."
Lewis, owner of the world indoor long jump record, won that competition at 27-4 3/4 and the 60-yard dash in a meet record 6.04. He will not compete in both events Sunday.
Lewis, who took only leap to win the long jump, said he wanted to preserve strength for the dash. "I've had a bad chest cold all week, and yesterday I stayed by a humidifier to help it," he said. "It was important for me to get a good jump in the beginning, of course, and obviously I got that confident jump early."
In the dash, Lewis jumped out to a substantial start, which pleased him. "I've had to work on my starts to be consistent, and it's coming along. People think a start is only 15 or 20 feet. It's really 40 or 50, the way you accelerate. I felt I was running about right, like I was in charge all the way."
Sprinter Evelyn Ashford also will compete Sunday in New Jersey. A year ago, she ran a world record 6.54 in the 60-yard dash here. But tonight, despite opening a lead at 30 yards and winning by just over two feet, her time was 6.58.
"I felt it was slow, yes," she said, "But the goal was to get out fast and win. I feel stronger than ever now. I feel stronger for outdoors." Ashford had hoped to win the Grand Prix circuit's top points award for female athletes, an honor worth $10,000, but hurdler Hightower won it after her record time of 7.36. Hightower said she "just ran and didn't worry about anyone else. If I just run my race and don't do a lot of worrying I'll do all right."
One of the more entertaining events in tonight's meet was the men's 440 yards, which produced a dead heat. High school senior Clinton Davis, who led into the gun lap, and Cliff Wiley tied at the wire in a meet record 47.64, which broke the mark of 47.88 set by Wiley in this afternoon's qualifying event.