And Lewis got greedy. "I did." he said. "I went out too hard. When I came out of the turn, I knew either I was going to run 19.6 or die."
He expired in the stretch, barely holding his place on the team against the charges of Roy Martin and Albert Robinson. Both ran 20.05, but Martin leaned his way to the precious third.
The 400 final was the most anticipated of the meet because Evans's record has never been threatened; because the 19-year-old Steve Lewis is a picture of impatient, howling speed; because Reynolds—last year's sensation—was back from injury; and because Lewis's UCLA teammate, NCAA champion Danny Everett, had been running under wraps.
Everett, 21, accepted a half scholarship from UCLA in order to be coached by Smith, who in 1971 set the 440-yard world record of 44.5. "Danny is different," Smith says. "As he trains for cardiovascular stamina, doing 1,000-meter intervals and seven-mile runs, he gets faster. He is a man who can think of ultimate goals like 1:41 in the 800 [ Sebastian Coe's world record is 1:41.73] and 43 in the 400."
He could also walk calmly away from a 44.32 semi and be conversational after six deep breaths, while his competitors crouched, nauseated, on the track.
Lewis, who ran in the other semi, is also remarkable. In high school Lewis produced "a natural, straight-from-the-womb 45.76," as Smith puts it. This year he raced sparingly because of soreness in his still-growing shins, but Lewis's innate power saw him to second behind Everett in the NCAAs.
"They've had a Cinderella season," said Smith, "not like what Butch has been through."
Amen. In May, Reynolds was running 200s in a workout. "Coach [Frank Zubovich of Ohio State] said 21.4s," Reynolds admitted guiltily. "I tried for 20.8s."
Zing went the strings of his ham. "It really messed me up deep in my right hamstring," said Reynolds. "The dream had been so close. I thought it was gone."
He threw himself into therapy, and Zubovich reminded him constantly that he had built a solid endurance base. "Still, I came here wondering," said Reynolds.