Billy Olson, who needed four tries to clear a lower height, won the heralded pole-vault confrontation of world-record holders tonight at the Millrose Games with a leap of 19 feet.

To illustrate how bizarre the event became, runnerup Dave Volz was credited with a Madison Square Garden record of 19 feet 1/4 inch. Sergei Bubka, the Soviet who has gone higher than anyone else, albeit outdoors, cleared nothing.

Bubka missed twice at 18-4 3/4 and twice at 18-9 1/4 and was finally adjudged a loser.

Bubka was given an extra attempt because Olson and Joe Dial were awarded extra tries at 18-4 3/4 because of runway interference. Bubka objected to such largesse and, during a lengthy infield argument, threatened to take his pole and go home. Eventually, he settled for extra tries of his own.

Dial quit after three misses anyway, because he was using a pole borrowed from Dave Kenworthy and he never came close to the bar.

"Because I'm so short and light, I can't really borrow someone else's poles," Dial said. "The plane I took to get here was too short to hold my poles and I had to send them by freight, but they got lost and ended up in Oklahoma.

"This won't determine who's the best anyway, because of all the controversy. I can't concentrate because of all the cameras and the noise, and the runway is too short."

Olson, after topping 18-4 3/4 on his extra try, missed one attempt at 18-9 1/4, then elected to go up to 19 feet, where he got over on his first try, leaving the bar shaking.

Volz slipped over on his third try at what was purported to be the same height, but a measurement afterward gave him an extra quarter inch. Neither Olson nor Volz came close at 19-5 3/4, which would have topped Olson's indoor record of 19-5 1/2 (all indoor marks are unofficial), and Volz suffered a cramp and quit after two attempts.

Perhaps the most fortunate competitor was Doug Lytle, who was stranded by weather somewhere in the vicinity of Dial's poles.

The vault began at 6:45 p.m. and ended at 12:19 a.m. The women's high jumpers were just warming up at that time, their event having been delayed by a lengthy men's event, which Jimmy Howard won at 7-8.

Marcus O'Sullivan confirmed his newly earned status as king of the indoor milers when he fought off crowd favorite Eamonn Coghlan to win the Wanamaker Mile.

Coghlan made his familiar move at the gun in an effort to become the first man to win the event seven times. But O'Sullivan fought him off to win in 3:56.05 as the first six finishers went under four minutes. Abdi Bile of George Mason was fourth in 3:58.16.

"Marcus is not afraid of anyone and he reminds me of myself," Coghlan said. "He never relaxes. He runs every phase of the race. I reckon he will break every Irish record."

"Eamonn is still the chairman of the boards to me," O'Sullivan said. "I've always looked up to Eamonn as an athlete of power and speed. This was my personal record tonight and it was a tough race to get it in, with a lot of bumping and pushing and changing lanes."

It was more like April Fools' Day than Valentine's Day during most of the meet.

Prominent medalists in the first three events were Stephanie Hightower, Greg Foster and Evelyn Ashford. That was no surprise, except that all three finished second. The winners were -- guess who? -- Patricia Davis, Mark McKoy and Gwen Torrence.

"I didn't know her, but I know her now," Ashford said after she was decisively beaten by Torrence, a University of Georgia junior, in the 60-yard dash. "When you get to be an old lady, you have to look out for the young whippersnappers."

Torrence led from the start, set a meet record of 6.57 seconds and was so excited she came sprinting out of the corridor where the sprinters hit the wall, as if she couldn't believe it.

McKoy had the same feeling after he blasted out of the blocks and hung on to beat Foster for the first time while clocking 6.93 seconds for the 60-yard hurdles. Only Foster and Renaldo Nehemiah have gone faster.

McKoy and Ben Johnson, the winner of the 60 in 6.04 seconds, which tied Carl Lewis' Madison Square Garden record, were pulling off an unprecedented Canadian sweep of events that have been almost totally dominated by U.S. runners in the past.

"I'm shocked," McKoy said. "Usually, I get a good start on Greg, but he catches me by the third or fourth hurdle. Actually, tonight I was just thinking about making the final. This is three times I've been here and I never made the final before."

Foster, who had no chance anyway after what he called a "terrible" start, bumped arms with Tonie Campbell coming off the last hurdle and fell, bruising his hip.

"I think today was just a bad night," Foster said.

Hightower, the world indoor record holder in the 60-yard hurdles, lost here for the first time in five years, finishing three-hundredths of a second behind Davis, a senior at St. Augustine's College in Raleigh, N.C., who was timed in 7.51.

There was no letup in the shock treatments as Valerie Brisco-Hooks, a triple Olympic gold medalist, was beaten by Grace Jackson of Jamaica in 23.45 in the 200 meters.

Every race did not end in an upset, of course. Johnny Gray raced past John Marshall at the gun in the 800 meters and went on to set a Garden record of 1:47.18.

Antonio McKay won a match race from Bert Cameron in the 400 meters and his time of 47.04 was the fastest ever on an 11-laps-to-the-mile track. Both Michael Paul and Michael Franks pulled up on the first lap, leaving the other two by themselves.

Delisa Walton Floyd set a Garden mark of 2:02.0 for 800 meters as she edged Romanian Christina Cojocaru.

Jackie Joyner, trailing until her fourth jump, wiped out Carol Lewis' Garden record in the women's long jump, leaping 21-11 1/2. Soviet Galina Chistyakova was second at 21-2.

Doug Padilla ran away from John Gregorek on the last two laps of what was supposed to be a 3,000-meter race. Unfortunately, officials miscounted the laps and the runners actually went about 3,140 meters.

Georgetown won the featured two-mile relay in 3:29.00 when British Columbia, challenging down the stretch, had its anchorman drop the baton in a brush with a lapped runner.