"I had been training with an eye to the outdoor season and the dual meet with Russia," he said before the race, "but lately I've been able to work out regularly and I feel strong." Strong was hardly the word for it. Mills jumped into the lead at the start. With Canada's Dave Ellis sticking to him, they ran the first 31 laps in tandem, as if they were riding the same bicycle-built-for-two. Mills swept through the first mile in 4:24.9, went past two miles in 8:58.8, and then dislodged his pursuer with a 61.5 final quarter that carried him to the finish four yards in front. He ran easily throughout, his kick was long-legged, smooth and seemingly effortless. His time of 13:25.4 was a U.S. citizens' record, just seven seconds above Ron Clarke's world indoor mark, and the second fastest three-mile ever run indoors.
"It feels pretty good to win," said Mills, who had carried his embarrassment of cheers with resigned tolerance. "I've had to take some pretty good lickings."
The spectators who arrived with high hopes for an exciting evening of track on Saturday night missed so much of the meet that when they filed sullenly out of the Garden there was a general feeling that, however energetic, however commendable, however imaginative, however free-spending, the AAU had goofed again.
To be fair, the evening was not a complete washout. On hand to win his third American indoor title was Russian High Jumper Valeri Brumel who, much like Mary Rand, gives off as many competitive sparks as a Fourth of July pinwheel. Brumel was not pushed and could jump no higher than 7 feet 2 inches, but he is a magnetic showman who thrives on dramatic moments. Since winning an Olympic gold medal last fall, he has even developed a relaxed exhilaration in combat that was lacking in his previous visits to the U.S. After each success he is out of the foam-rubber landing pit in a single bounce, waving to the crowd and grinning as if to say: "What fun this is. Why don't you all come down and try it?"
For the devoted track fan who feeds on the finer points of the sport, there was considerable satisfaction in Villanova's meet-record 7:28.2 in the two-mile relay, not so much from the winner's time as from the manner in which Seton Hall's Germann twins, Herb and George, chased the Villanova runners to the finish line. Herb was given the unenviable assignment of trying to stick with Villanova's Tommy Sullivan, who posted a sizzling-fast 1:50.2 for his half-mile leg. Herb, behind by at least 12 yards as he began his leg, struggled courageously, but was a grudging 20 yards back when he passed the baton to his twin brother. Stride by stride, George sliced the margin between himself and Villanova's Irish anchorman, Noel Carroll. The latter was timed in a fast 1:51.4, but George made up 10 yards with a close-to-1:50 stint of his own.
For the record the AAU, awakening to a new era in track promotion, tried something different. Its effort to bring in an exotic array of foreign talent, male and female, and to give women's track the showcase that the men's championship provides was laudable. But, however crammed with vitamins it may be, an indoor track meet lacks the nourishment to last two nights.