Going into the Maryland meet Ripley held the world amateur indoor record at 18'1". He had set the mark a year ago at the Sunkist Meet in Los Angeles, but the feat had hardly made his name a household word. Comstock knew, if few others did, that with Ripley and his PCC teammate Casey Carrigan in the field, plus Poland's Wojciech Buciarski, who equaled the third highest indoor vault of 1975, there was a good chance for a record. Ripley and Carrigan competed about two weeks before in the Saskatchewan K. of C. Games in Saskatoon ("The nice thing about going up there," said Ripley, "is that if you do badly, no one knows"). Ripley won at 17'9�", and Carrigan was second at 17'6�". Furthermore, Ripley, in his attempt at 18'1� ", had come within a hair of succeeding. Actually, it was a forearm. Ripley is an ebullient sort. The vault had been perfect in every respect and he knew he had the record in the bag. As he sailed over the bar he made a two-fisted gesture of triumph, but he made it an instant too soon. A forearm hit the bar and he landed, well, sheepishly.
At College Park the battle came down to Ripley and Buciarski. Officials raised the bar to 18'1�" so the two could have another try at a record. Both missed their first two attempts, and then Buciarski was out on his third.
"My first two tries were lousy," said Ripley. "Lackadaisical. I didn't get my pole out front. The same thing had happened on the first two in Saskatoon. So on the third I concentrated on getting the pole out there. I was better at the takeoff, I had good momentum on the runway and the pole was out front. I knew I had it." This time he held his forearm back long enough to land safely. Then, however, he flew into a wild, joyous victory lap around the infield, bounding over barriers, jumping pits and reclining relay runners. The six-foot, 175-pound San Jose State graduate was still grinning an hour later as he assured reporters that, yes, it was true, his highest vault as recently as two years ago had been 16'3".
Eamonn Coghlan, the redheaded, freckle-faced Irish miler from Villanova who ran third in Filbert Bayi's 3:51 mile in Jamaica last year, won the mile in 3:59.7, taking the lead with two laps to go, then narrowly holding off the finishing kick of Danie Malan, a South African running on boards for the first time.
Because of a hip injury and a poor cross-country season, Coghlan went home to Ireland for Christmas and ran cross-country and road races to build his confidence and stamina. He won them all and arrived in College Park on the day of the meet, ready for a try indoors. "If I'd lost in a fast time I would have been happy," he said, "and if I'd won in a slow time I wouldn't have been unhappy, but winning in a good time is making me unbelievably happy."
Had Marty Liquori run the mile as he did last year when he beat Prefontaine in 3:57.7, the occasion might have been different. Liquori, though, has moved on to greater distances, possibly because Bayi and John Walker seem to own the mile and the 1,500 for the time being and because, with Pre gone, there is a vacancy at 5,000 and 10,000 meters. Looking tired, Liquori won the two mile in a sluggish 8:34.4, 14 seconds off Pre-fontaine's American record, but he said the time was fine, about what he had expected. Liquori had been training 110 miles a week, and he began work on the track only a week before this meet.
With five months remaining until the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore. and six until the scheduled start of the Games in Montreal, the talk was all of better times to come. McTear, for instance, thinks he can run a 5.5 in the 60 before the indoor season is over, and his coach, Will Willoughby, agrees. Of all the winners, perhaps the only one who felt he had surpassed himself was Glenn Irion, a Temple University junior who had never jumped higher than 7 feet. On his last attempt, with the bar at 7'2", Irion upset Dwight Stones who has jumped a world-record 7'6�", and 5'8" Ron Livers, who has jumped 7'4�", farther over the top of his own head than anyone else.
Irion lay motionless in the pit for a moment after his jump. Then, in virtually a single bound, he leaped into the stands to hug his coach. Who needs the Olympics at such a moment?