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And so for Saturday night, there was a healthy, confident Ryun, plus Wottle, who had won his heat with his super kick but then ran a confused semi and needed all his late speed to finish third.
"I wish I knew what I was doing," Wottle said after the semi, his second speed workout. "I'm all mixed up. But maybe I can do something. If a miler can make it to the final he has the advantage because he's stronger."
Ryun opened the final much the way he did his two heats—flying for the lead. He and Ken Swenson, formerly of Kansas State and now of the U.S. Army, led for roughly 200 meters when Tom Fulton overtook them to turn the 400 in 52 fiat. Wottle was bobbing along well in the ruck.
"I knew I didn't know anything," he said later, "so I sort of hypnotized myself by watching Ryun's back. I figured whatever he did I'd do."
What Ryun did was to reassume the lead shortly before the 600 mark, running 200 meters in an eye-popping 24.8.
"Incredible," said Winzenried on the sidelines.
Although Ryun had started his kick much too early, Wottle, mesmerized, hustled off in mesmerized pursuit. Rick Wohlhuter of the University of Chicago Track Club took up the chase, with Swenson dropping to fourth. "It was like running to see a fire," Swenson said. "Everybody going like crazy If I had known what the pace was, I'd never have finished."
Coming off the last turn, Wottle flew past Ryun, who now was struggling. Super Kick, who doesn't know how to run 800 meters, finished in 1:44.3, tying Peter Snell's and Ralph Doubell's world record. Wohlhuter pushed past Ryun for second (1:45), and Swenson surged and outleaned the exhausted Ryun at the wire for third (1:45.1). Ryun finished in 1:45.2, the second best time of his career, and made the team as an alternate.
"I can't be unhappy with that," Ryun said later. "I ran the best possible race I could: 110%. Look at those times. This has to be the greatest 800 race ever run. Four men under 1:45.3. Six under 1:45.5. You can say America has finally joined the 800 set. I'm proud of my time. And after running three fast races in three days and having no problems with my hay fever, well, I feel relieved. The pressure is off me for next week's 1,500."