The course that the Naval Academy's cross-country coach, Al Cantello, had laid out over the Eisenhower Golf Course just outside Annapolis was anything but that: 10,000 meters—six miles, 376-plus yards—of rolling hills and difficult footing, with three narrow bridges that had to be crossed six times. The enormous field of 360 starters poured some 800 yards down a fairway, across an earthen dam and into the first of four loops. At a mile and a quarter the eventual leaders were already sifting their way through the mob. Greg Fredericks was in the lead, and John Gregorio of the Colorado Track Club was third. Fredericks had broken Shorter's American record for 10,000 meters when he was running for Penn State in 1972, and according to his college coach, "Greg was the only one who ever got a smell of Steve Prefontaine."
By three miles, Don Kardong, the Stanford alumnus who ran a 12:57.6 minute 3 miles last year and Garry Bjorklund of the Colorado Track Club, who ran the 10,000 at the Pan-Am Games in mid-October were first and second, respectively, while Fredericks was a tight fifth. Kardong and Bjorklund had lost their way for a short time early in the race, but had made up the lost ground, Kardong with a time for three miles of 13:56.
Between four and five miles the leaders broke away: Gary Tuttle of the Beverly Hills Striders, Bjorklund, Fredericks, Glen Herold—who had begun moving up at about 3�—Kardong and Gregorio. Twenty yards back, Ted Castaneda of the Colorado TC was trying to make up ground, but catch-up in cross country is a difficult game and Castaneda finished a disappointing 11th.
Turning into the 150-yard stretch to the finish line, Gregorio had a slight lead on Fredericks, but not enough. Coming up the last small rise Fredericks jumped Gregorio. "I was just trying to maintain contact till I could make my one big move," he said minutes after he crossed the finish line, the winner by five feet after more than six miles. Behind him Bjorklund and Herold were sprinting for third, a contest that Bjorklund won by a nose. Kardong and Tuttle were fifth and sixth, and all were within four seconds of each other, a rare cross-country finish.
On the basis of the two-three finish of Gregorio and Bjorklund, the Colorado Track Club took the team title with 31 points; the New York AC was second.
And with that, fall was officially over for distance runners. In just a few weeks the indoor season begins. The footing will be good, the hills will be banked and runners will be going around in ovals again.