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By the time they got around to the final shoot-out in the high jump early last Saturday morning at Madison Square Garden, the bulk of the record crowd of 18,142 had long since departed, the workmen were complaining because they had been forced into overtime by three lanky giants and a long-legged midget, and some loudmouth in the upper reaches of the seats was screaming, "Hey, Stones, you're a bum. Fall down, you bum." To which a burly cop on temporary duty as a Millrose Games spectator roared back, "Shut up, you idiot, or go home."
Always it has been like this for Dwight Stones, the cocky world-record holder (7'6�" outdoors, 7'5�" indoors) and Olympic bronze medalist, who has been known to review his many accomplishments with the aid of a megaphone, and thus has alienated almost everyone, especially his peers. As Tom Woods, who would win this time, said, "He's cocky and sometimes he says things that bother me. If there's one individual I like to beat more than anyone else, it's Dwight."
The Millrose people had brought in a whole army of world-class jumpers to compete against Stones. There was the 6'4" Woods, of course, who has done 7'5�" outdoors and was ranked No. 2 in the world last year behind Stones. That pair met 10 times in Europe last summer, and each won five times. The French sent over Paul Poaniewa, their 6-foot straddler from New Caledonia, who has soared 7'5". Then there were Pat Matzdorf, the former world-record holder with a 7'6�" best; Rory Kotinek (7'4"), Bill Jankunis (7'4") and little Ron Livers, who had just jumped a 7'4�", which is 20 inches over his head. Plus Dennis Adama (7'3") of the University of Chicago Track Club, the only other straddler in the field and a man known to inspire Stones with his verbal barbs.
"I think I had better lighten up my premeet meal," said Stones at lunch in the coffee shop of his hotel. He ordered a hot roast beef sandwich and a cheeseburger.
"Both for you?" asked the waiter.
"Yeah, and two milks and dessert."
"What would you like for dessert?"
"A bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich."
That done, Stones, who is 22 and attends Long Beach State, began to assay his own personality, which, he says, has improved considerably the last two years. "I should have won the gold medal at Munich, but I'm glad now that I only came in third," he said. "I was hard enough to live with as the bronze medalist. With the gold, I would have been impossible. There would have been no shutting me up. I never would have realized what a buffoon I was."
Not far away, in a lounge two floors above where Stones was eating, Woods, who had elected to have stew as his pre-meet meal, was beginning to feel nauseous. He was afraid it might be the stomach virus that had hit some of his Pacific Coast Club teammates. He had been the United States' prime high jumper in 1972 but had injured a knee two weeks before the Olympic Trials.