ANNAPOLIS, JAN. 23 -- It's been going on so long now, no one is quite sure exactly when it started, not Jim Gehrdes, who was coaching Navy track 30 years ago, nor the current Navy coach, Al Cantello, who's been here 25 years. The dual meet with Maryland is estimated to have begun around 1955 or 1956 and has a rich history of tight competition.

"Some of my old friends, assistant coaches and former athletes are here today and remember when this was the biggest, best and most hotly contested track meet on the East Coast," said Jim Kehoe, track and field coach at Maryland from 1945 to 1969.

Navy won today's meet, 76-60. Neither team let the other get too far away and traded firsts with each event.

Maryland's Mark Coogan, the ACC steeplechase champion, barely led for six laps of the 1,500 meters, then ran away from Navy's Lance Davidson rounding the final turn, winning in 3:47.66. Then he took second to teammate Quentin Howe in the 1,000 meters (2:26.69 to 2:27.91), one of the few races a team was able to go 1-2.

In between, Navy senior Michael Greene, the defending indoor IC4A champion in the 500 meters and outdoor heptagonal champion in the 400, fought to remain ahead of Maryland's Donald Thrower in the 400 meters, winning 47.61 to 48.03, just 61-hundredths off NCAA qualifying.

And Navy sophomore Clay Stackhouse, a wide receiver who has convinced football coach Elliot Uzelac to allow him to sprint on weekends, caught Maryland's Norris Hanes, former Maryland prep champion, five yards from the tape of the 55-meter dash to win in 6.2.

"It's been a love I've had since I was little," Stackhouse said, "and I've worked it out with the football coach, but right now I've got to to go lift and he's waiting for me."

The meet coincided with the time when athletes begin thinking NCAA qualifying.

"Of course I want to do well," said Coogan, "but ACCs and NCAAs, that's all I want."

He also missed by a second qualifying for the Olympic trials in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Greene anticipates qualifying for the Olympic trials late this spring, although his progress is short of where he wanted to be this year. He is one tenth off the mark in the 400 meters.