With that future in mind, Reynolds made some hard decisions after the World Championships. The toughest one was telling his coach, Frank Zubovich, who's retiring this December after 22� years at Ohio State and has never won a Big Ten title, that he would leave school and not compete for the Buckeyes in the '88 outdoor season. "I would have loved to give Coach Zub that championship," says Reynolds. "But I had to think of my future. I had to get into a pattern of saying no, and that's never been me. I ran a few times last year when I didn't want to, and that's the thing that got me in the end. This is like a job now. There has to be discipline."
Reynolds mapped out a demanding regimen for himself. He decided to stay in Columbus, where he has continued to work under Zubovich. Long, slow interval training has increased his strength, and a weight program has given him five more pounds of muscle. At the urging of former hurdler Mamie Rallins, now the women's track coach for the Buckeyes, Reynolds has also been jumping rope to develop quicker feet.
The workouts have been balanced by a drastically reduced racing schedule. This year Reynolds entered only three indoor meets, winning one on a large track and finishing third on the boards at the Meadowlands. In his first outdoor meet last month at the Mt. SAC Relays, he ran an impressive 44-flat anchor leg in the 4 x 400 relay. "That was a little faster than I wanted him to go," says Zubovich. "But how do you tell a young guy with that talent not to run hard?"
It's not going to get any easier for Reynolds to hold back in the races he has left before the Olympic trials at Indianapolis in mid-July. On June 5, he hopes to meet Egbunike, who has nine sub-44.75 times and a best of 44.17, at the Pepsi Invitational in Los Angeles. Then in Oslo on July 2, Reynolds may get a chance to avenge his loss to Sch�nlebe, But revenge finishes a distant second to chasing Evans. Each time Reynolds enters the bedroom in his Columbus town house, he passes a hand-lettered sign that reads: HARRY REYNOLDS, WORLD RECORD. 43.81.
Reynolds has never met Evans, but in Rome he saw a tape of Evans's record race in Mexico City. "I saw his head moving all like this," says Reynolds, doing a perfect imitation of Evans's distinctive rolling motion. "I thought, that is not perfect form at all. But Lee was a brute. I'm the opposite. We both go about the same speed. I just want to go a little faster."
A moment later Reynolds stops his conversation to point out the clock on the Ohio Stadium scoreboard. The time is 4:38 p.m. "See, there are those numbers again," he says. "Four-three-eight. Somehow I look up every day at this time and see those numbers."
Reynolds isn't likely to be seeing them on an official timer for a few months. "This is still Phase 1," he said after the Owens. "Phase 2 will be the Olympic trials. And Seoul will be Phase 3."
If if works out that way, his timing will be perfect.