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"Sure, I went to see him," Carlos said, a bit amazed that anyone would doubt this side of John Carlos. "Look, man, I'm not prejudiced against Jim Ryun or anybody else. The man showed me something out there. Just going out for the three-mile, after the mile he ran, that showed me."
In a meet as unpredictable as that held in Knoxville last weekend it was only appropriate that San Jose, a team of mavericks, should win. A world record was set in the 440, as many expected, but not by Evans or Villanova's Larry James. Curtis Mills, a sophomore journalism major at Texas A&M, snuck by Evans 50 yards from the finish, surprising Evans, the fans and himself with a 44.7.
"All I was really trying to do," Mills admitted, "was become an All-America. I was only trying to finish fourth [enough to qualify him]. See, we got this plaque up at school where they put names of guys who make All-America. I wanted mine up there with Randy Matson's."
Both Evans and James were certain Tommie Smith's record of 44.8 would be broken but, just as certainly, not by Curtis Mills. "All season long I trained to meet Larry James," Evans had said. "People are telling me about these other dudes but James is the only other one in the race."
"Lee is all who counts in this race," James had said. "I don't have to worry about anyone else."
"I think maybe they were worried only about themselves," reflected Mills after his win. "I don't believe they even thought of me."
In the race Mills stayed comfortably in third, behind Evans and James, until they turned down the final straight. First Mills passed James, who had run an extraordinary 21-flat first 220, then Evans, who still was thinking of no one but James. "I knew I was ahead of Larry," Evans said, "and I was just concentrating on keeping my form together until the finish. When Mills went by me, well, I started flailing all over. I didn't have time to pull myself back together."
"I don't care if someone does better tonight," Mills said. "For now the record's mine. It's beautiful." He was then asked how, as a budding journalist, he would have written up the race. "I'd say I was scared when I started," he said, "but it was a heck of a finish."
Mills wasn't the only one overlooked. Villanova's Erv Hall, just slightly better known, tied the world record for the 120-yard high hurdles (13.2) in a qualifying heat. Brigham Young's Ralph Mann tied an American record in the 440-yard intermediate hurdles (49.6), only to be ignored by television and reporters and a little autograph hunter, who asked Mann if he could please get Pole Vaulter Bob Seagren over so Seagren could sign a program. Frank Shorter of Yale won the first six-mile he had ever run and later came in second in the three-mile. Dick Fosbury made a comeback, winning the high jump at 7'2�", and in the final race of the three-day meet, while everyone wondered where Jim Ryun had gone, UCLA set an American record in the mile relay (3:03.4).
But the meet's character came from the battle for the team championship. All week long people talked of Kansas and San Jose, but mostly of San Jose and its corps of sprinters—John Carlos and Ronnie Ray Smith and Kirk Clayton and Sam Davis and Lee Evans. They walked everywhere together, Carlos leading the pack, James Brown playing from the tape recorder over his shoulder, the others stutter-stepping, cool-jerking, and they were soon dubbed the Bandits. "Look at it this way," Carlos said. "Everyone wanted a shot at Jesse James. He was the fastest and the baddest, and they came from all over to try and get him. We're the fastest, so they come from all over to try and get us."