"Lee," he said quietly.
"What about Lee?"
"That it's about time I beat him."
James led from the start, as he had in their previous meetings, but this time Evans never challenged, and James won in a good 47.3. "Usually Lee charges with a lap and a half to go," James said. "But when he didn't come, I tell you I didn't bother to look back. I just kept burning. For a long time I've tried to picture what this moment would feel like, and now that it's here, well, it doesn't feel any different."
But this meet, as almost everyone knew from the beginning, wasn't really going to be decided in any preliminary event, no matter how attractive or how well run. "The NCAA is the one we want," said Kansas Coach Bob Timmons, "and I don't think we can win it without Ryun. I feel confident, though, about Jim's condition." "I'm using Marty in both races," said Elliott. "We need the points and I think he is good enough and the type of kid to get them for us."
The attempted double was a disaster for both Ryun and Liquori. After their failures in the two mile, they were disconsolate and a bit embarrassed. "Nothing was right," Ryun said. "I just haven't got it put together yet. It was too ambitious to try and double." "I thought of dropping out," Liquori said, "but then I figured maybe I could get a point, and that's what I was running for. But I ended up running all that way for nothing. What a stupid sport."
There is in Liquori a certain brashness that makes him something special. His way is not a swagger, really, but more a look or a smile or a manner that implies he is doing something 19-year-olds aren't supposed to do. It is also bell-bottoms, Gucci shoe buckles, turtlenecks and the model-type girl in the jump suit. Says Elliott, "He's my cool cat." Says teammate Erv Hall, who equaled the meet record of 7.0 in the 60-yard highs, "Marty's cocky, but then the mile is a cocky type race." Says Villanova Sports Publicist Jim Murray, "Marty would race a roadrunner and not think of losing."
Two days before he met Ryun in the mile, Liquori was not only not thinking of losing, he wasn't thinking of running at all. "Other people are talking and worrying about this race more than I am," he said. "Like last night. Sure I was thinking, but it wasn't about Ryun. It was what Jumbo would think about the new pants [powder-blue bell-bottoms] I just bought."
By Saturday, Liquori was not only thinking of Ryun but was also a bit scared. "It's everything," he said, "the bad race last night, having to run Ryun, wondering how fresh he is and how much he has in him. You know, I don't like to think about a race that much ahead of when it's going to happen. You could go crazy that way. So I've developed this method. One hour before, I'll lie down and do nothing but think about running. I think about all the work I've done before the race, then say to myself if I lose it is all worthless.
"You always find that one split second in a race when a runner has to decide whether this is it, whether this is the time to go all-out. I think a lot of us are frightened when we think of this moment. After that thing last night I've really got my back to the wall. But I think I do my best when I'm up against it."