NEW YORK, FEB. 1 -- Two very different roads brought Greg Foster and Andre Cason to the 84th annual Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden tonight, but one 60-meter stretch of indoor track gave them the same result.
Foster, 32, the high hurdler who might never retire, won his eighth Millrose Games title, turning in the fine time of 7.48 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles, well ahead of Tony Dees's 7.53.
Fifteen minutes later, the 22-year-old Cason, best known as the man who defeated Ben Johnson two weeks ago in a meet in Los Angeles, won his first Millrose Games race with a time of 6.61 in the 60-meter dash.
Foster, the two-time outdoor world champion who never has won an Olympic gold medal, said he was "more surprised than happy" about his victory, which was so complete he had time to thrust his fist in the air as he crossed the finish line.
Cason, a small (5 feet 7) runner from Virginia Beach with a blinding burst of speed, had a bit more explaining to do. He had Johnson beat in the sprinter's celebrated return three weeks ago in Hamilton, Ontarrio, only to fade and lose to upset winner Daron Council and Johnson.
But in Los Angeles and here tonight, Cason never let up, "running through the finish line instead of to the line." He was so proud of his achievement he repeated the rhyme a couple of times.
"If I continue to run well and keep my head down, nothing but good things will come to me," he said.
Cason, a Texas A&M communications major who now trains in Tampa, defeated Lee McRae (6.63), a two-time winner here; Council, a Gainesville, Fla., deputy sheriff (6.64), and world indoor champion Andres Simon, 30, of Cuba (6.70).
Johnson and the two highest-profile American sprinters -- Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell -- were not here. Johnson was said to have asked for $30,000 to run here, and he didn't get it.
Someday, perhaps, Cason will come to the Millrose Games the way Foster did tonight. One of the greatest hurdlers of all time, Foster was running his first race since August, but who would have known it? He seemed in midseason form. He had an air of dominance, and when he revealed he was nervous before the race, it seemed unbelievable.
Foster has overcome an incredible string of injuries the past few years. He broke his left arm two weeks before the Olympic trials in 1988 and, although he tried, he didn't make the U.S. team. He broke the arm again in the same place playing basketball two years ago, then broke his right foot during a race in Spain 11 months ago.
"I've been dealing with disappointment since I began running in 1972," Foster said. "Up until 1988, I had never taken a break from training or competing. It's interesting, but when I broke my arm, I had to take a break. I had to stop."
He stopped long enough to realize how much he wanted to go on. Although the thought of not winning an Olympic gold medal still bothers him, he'd rather focus on what he has won -- the world championship in 1983 and 1987 -- and hope for a third title this summer at the championships in Tokyo.
"What the Lakers tried to do and San Francisco tried to do, I want to do -- try to threepeat," he said. "My wife looks at me when I come home from training and my clothes are soaked and she thinks I'm crazy."
Foster will continue competing until 1993, certainly through the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. People have been mentioning the Olympics to Foster rather often.
"An Olympic gold medal would be more public image for me," he said. "Of course, I'd love to have a gold medal, and I would be disappointed if I didn't get one, but that's all I would be. It would probably be disappointing for that day, but for that day only."
In other events, Algeria's Noureddine Morceli, ranked No. 1 in the world in the mile, defeated Ireland's Marcus O'Sullivan, a four-time winner here, in the Wanamaker Mile in 3:53.50, the second-fastest time ever run here. O'Sullivan ran 3:55.17.
Doina Melinte of Romania won the women's mile in 4:33.81. Germany's Christine Wachtel took the women's 800 in 2:10.31, a Millrose Games record. Diane Dixon won her seventh women's 400 here in 52.72 and Antonio McKay won the men's 400 in 48.38. Carlette Guidry won the women's 60 meters in 7.14 seconds. And LaVonna Martin won the women's 60-meter hurdles in 8.11.