Washington laughs when he talks about Pender's starts. "I think all that stuff is just a psych he's trying to put on us," he says. "Like when Charlie Greene sings as he is getting into the blocks. I do a little of that, too. I always pull out a tape measure and check my blocks just before a race. If anybody did that to me I'd really be ticked off." With that, he pulled out his tape and began measuring. Dr. Meriwether watched him for a moment, hitched up his yellow suspenders and shrugged. Pender stared at the starter, who finally ordered them all into their blocks.
"Set," he said. Up they went, holding, holding, holding. Bobby Turner broke. "Kee-rist!" he said as he returned to the line. "Are we posing for pictures or running a race?"
They tried it again. Set, bang! McGee was caught rocking backward. "My God, he changed his tempo," thought Turner, frozen. Pender came firing out, took one stride and fell flat on his face. As he pushed off, his block had slipped. When Pender fell, Washington hesitated, thinking the race would be recalled. Startled, McGee stumbled and brushed against Tinker. Meanwhile, Meriwether slowly uncoiled and ran on. "I thought they might restart it," he said later, "but I've stopped before when they didn't and I'm not about to let that happen again." Pender lay on the Fastrac, looking questioningly at the starter. "I had a beautiful start," he moaned later. "Even as I was falling I looked around and didn't see anybody."
As the five upright sprinters closed on the tape, Dr. Meriwether saw Tinker leaning. "I think I'll try that," thought the doc, who is still experimenting with basic sprinting techniques. Just as he did, McGee dived head first for the tape, lost his balance and bumped into him. Even if McGee had got his Afro into the tape ahead of Dr. Meriwether's body, he would not have won. According to the rules, only the torso counts. As it was, both McGee and the doc fell with shattering force.
"Who won?" Tinker was asked.
"How would I know?" the 21-year-old Kent State sophomore said.
After studying the Phototimer pictures, the finish judges said it was Dr. Meriwether in 6.2, with Tinker second and Washington third.
"Lying there on the floor," said Dr. Meriwether, "I couldn't have cared less."
"Six-two?" said Washington, shaking his head. "That's awful. Wake me up at four in the morning and I'll run a six-two."
" Meriwether ought to thank McGee for stumbling into him," said Tinker. "Without that shove I might have won."