This season O'Hara has added 10 new athletes to the ITA cast, including distance runner Tracy Smith and flip-jumper John Delamere. Unfortunately, none of them seems likely to add competitive fire, at least not enough to challenge Jipcho's dominance. Nor does Ryun, still the world-record holder in the mile but now sort of the Arnold Palmer of professional track. Ryun entered the 880 at Salt Lake City, ran dead last through 500 fitful yards and dropped out.
O'Hara, however, remains optimistic. "We're getting strong crowds," he says, "and good exposure on TV. We'll be on ABC's Wide World of Sports a minimum of four times, and NBC will tape our March 22 meet in Los Angeles—that's on a Saturday afternoon—and put it on that night in the Johnny Carson time slot. If we have the Super Mile it will be on CBS, so we have a shot at something on all three networks."
"If we do it," bubbles Steiner about the Super Mile, "it will be the greatest thing in track and field history." The format calls for the winner to receive $60,000, with $25,000 for second, $10,000 for third and $5,000 for fourth. One of the top milers Jipcho may meet in that race is Kip Keino, who is supposed to rejoin the pro tour for the Los Angeles meet that will be televised nationally.
"When NBC did that last year," O'Hara says, with pleased wonder, "we ended up with more viewers than the Carson show usually has. We're getting there."