On a night when seven meet records were established and when stars such as Greg Foster and Diane Dixon were at their gold medal best, the highlight performances of the Mobil 1 Invitational were by two of America's top women runners -- Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Gwen Torrence.

Joyner-Kersee established an American record in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 7.88 seconds, erasing Stephanie Hightower's 1983 mark of 8.02. Here's the rub: It was the first race of the year for Joyner-Kersee, who is a long-jump specialist.

Torrence won the women's 60-meter dash and tied the American indoor record time of 7.18 seconds, matching Alice Brown's mark established in 1984. But that was only the second-most remarkable thing about the race.

The most incredible part was that she was running the 60 for the first time in her career. She edged Evelyn Ashford (7.19) for the victory, and afterward, smiled and said, yes, she might attempt it again someday.

"This may sound strange, but I really thought I could tie the American record," she said. "What I wanted to do was break it. I'm excited anyway. You have to be to get a record."

A sellout crowd of around 4,000 showed up at George Mason University to see some of the best athletes in the world strut their stuff, all aiming toward a spot in the Summer Olympics next September.

They got to see a little bit of everything. They saw Foster win the 60-meter hurdles with a stirring, controversial victory over Tonie Campbell and Renaldo Nehemiah. They saw George Mason star Abdi Bile respond to a cheering crowd and defeat favored Peter Elliott in the mile. They saw veteran Emmit King beat Lee McRae in the men's 60-meter dash. And they saw Louise Ritter continue to dominate the women's high jump.

From a meet that started from scratch four years ago, it was a proud night for George Mason.

Joyner-Kersee began her race unsure of anything, much less that she would stride away with a record.

"My hamstrings were very tight," she said. "Two years ago when they felt like that, I didn't run my best, and tonight I was just going all out. I like the record, but I'm most happy about coming out healthy."

She will now return to concentrating on the long jump and heptathlon, her specialties. She had hoped to earn a spot as a hurdler in Seoul until she saw the semis in the hurdles were scheduled just before the finals in the long jump at the Olympic Trials in Indianapolis.

"I'd like to try, but it's better to be safe than sorry," she said. "The risk of injury is just too great. I'm still learning this event. I'll be honest -- I didn't even know if there were five or six hurdles in the 60."

Torrence hasn't lost an indoor event in two years (37 races), and she said Ashford gave her a close call for No. 1. But the real drama came after the race when she sprinted through the tape and took a hard tumble. She lay on the ground motionless for several minutes while doctors and her coach examined her. But she eventually jumped up and took a very slow victory lap.

"I was more scared than hurt," she said. "I was going too fast, and when I leaned into the tape, my momentum carried me over. I like the event, and I want to run it again."

That probably won't come until next season. For now, she is planning a limited schedule for the remainder of the indoor season, instead focusing on gaining a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in the 100- and 200-meter events.

She had run the 660 in a meet at the Meadowlands Saturday night and said, "That's more my event. I usually don't get my momentum going until then, but I like it."

Then there was the men's 60-meter hurdles, an event that featured not only Foster, the world-record holder, but also Nehemiah, who is running again after a brief affair with the NFL.

Foster won the event in 7.48 seconds, and as he crossed the tape, looked back and made a gesture at Campbell and Nehemiah. Foster said the gesture was his way of letting them know that he recognized the race for being a false start. The top three finishers all thought Campbell got a rolling start, and Campbell slowed as he approached the first hurdle.

But the longer Foster spoke, the more he sounded like the gesture meant something else.

"There have been a lot of things said about me," he said, "and you get tired of the crap. I try not to let it bother me, but sometimes it does. I have to make sure I'm prepared. This is indoor season, and I'm thinking indoor. It's too far in advance to be worrying about Seoul. I can get ready in a month, so I could still take two or three months off and get ready. My goal was to go undefeated this indoor season, but that got messed up last week in Dallas."

Nehemiah shrugged off the words, saying, "Part of my comeback is mental preparation, and sometimes I have problems. I know I'm not supposed to let up even when I know it's a false start. Otherwise, I think I'm in very good shape. I'm real happy about where I am as far as getting ready for the Olympics."

A friendlier, but no less intense rivalry, is the women's 400-meter dash. Dixon won it in 52.30 seconds, rallying to beat Valerie Brisco (52.31) for the second time in as many nights. Dixon also defeated Brisco last week at the Millrose Games in what has become a two-woman event.

Dixon also took a tumble after the event and wore ice packs on her knee, thigh and ankle after the race.

"I've got bruises on my bruises," she said. "Valerie and I run the same, and we like to run against each other. I got out real well, but I felt her behind me. She got the lead, and that's unusual. She doesn't usually jump out as quickly as she did {with 150 yards to go}. I think the only difference in the race was that she leaned too soon."

Three feet away, her competitor and friend smiled and nodded affirmatively.

"I didn't know where the finish line was," Brisco said. "I estimated and leaned early. I always seem to have problems running indoors. I run into an oxygen depth and did again tonight. I felt her coming and tried to lean past the line."

They both appeared headed for Seoul, probably in individual and relay events, which seems to excite both of these friendly, open women.

"I think we're running the fastest quarter-miles that have ever been consistently run," Dixon said. "The Olympics isn't until September, and we're right on schedule."

Another American who appears headed for Seoul is Antonio McKay, who won the 400 meters in 46.36 seconds. Roddie Haley was second at 46.56.

Four years ago, McKay was the favorite to win a gold medal in the Olympics. He settled for a bronze, and four years later, is still on a crusade.

"The media can write that I'm humble, but I'm not," he said. "I lost it in '84 and shouldn't have. But that kid was hurt. I'll be ready. I believe I can win anything right now."

He had to fight out of a pack of three runners to win the 400 last night, and said, "I was boxed in. They gave me a little opening outside, and I took it."

The field for the men's mile was depleted just before the race when Marcus O'Sullivan decided to run the 800 instead of the mile. He made the switch after running the third-fastest indoor mile ever a night earlier (3:50.94).