He listened to a question and turned away resentfully.
"What are you doing," he said, "looking for extremes? And I'm the worst? There were some other people on the team, too."
"I'm sorry, sir," he said. "But I don't feel too good. You hear people cheering when you finish last by a mile and you know they aren't really cheering. You feel like they're making fun of you, but you have to finish. Look, I run the mile most of the time. I know maybe I'm not ever going to run a really good mile, but I'm not going to be a bad miler, either. I'm a freshman and I've run 4:18.7 and I hope to get under 4:10. Running is something I can do and improve at, so I'll keep on doing it."
His name was Jeff Rolf and he majors in journalism. Running is not his life. "It's a kind of emotional release," he said. "I like it. I don't like it today, but I'll like it again tomorrow."
He got up, his breathing even now, his face composed. "I like to watch the good ones, too," he said. The 120-yard hurdles were starting and he went to the edge of the track. "I'd like to know what they think about after a race," he said. "It must be another kind of a world."
Larry Shipp, the LSU star, came out of his blocks a bit late, gradually moved ahead of the field over the hurdles, then sprinted in a two-yard winner in 13.7 seconds, very good early-season time. He was not breathing hard, and as he put on his warmup jacket, he talked easily and confidently.
"I'm still working on my start," Shipp said. "I have a tendency to dwell a bit. While I'm in the blocks, waiting for the gun, I think about the start, but I think about the other runners, too. You can feel the whole happening—who is scared, who thinks he can run, who thinks he can win. No, I always think I will win. I wouldn't run if I didn't think that."
He has startling light hazel eyes in a handsome cocoa-brown face and he smiled as he thought about winning.
"I look at the hurdles as an art form," he said. "It's a performance, like a ballerina puts on. I'm aware of the people and I want to do well for them. Of course, I'm aware of the other runners, too. For the first few hurdles I'm getting my rhythm, then I am aware of where the pressure is coming from. If no one is coming up on my left, say, I forget my left and I'm aware of the field on my right. Today I could feel that Allen Misher, my teammate, was pressing and forcing the hurdles, so I dismissed him from my mind."