Wilson, who went to high school in Knoxville, Iowa, 35 miles from Des Moines, got a rousing reception. His teammates mobbed him. His wife leaped out of the stands to kiss him. Boit came over and said to him, "You have a very good kick." Then Boit and Wohlhuter jogged off together, asking each other, "Who was that guy?"
Wilson's 1:46.06 beat Boit by .07, Wohlhuter by .09 and his own previous best by three full seconds. Wilson also anchored Oklahoma to a win in the sprint medley relay, and he won the meet's Outstanding Performer award. He could also have won an award for candor.
Asked to reveal his 800-meter strategy, he replied, "I was shooting to finish right behind Boit and Wohlhuter. I just wanted to get a good time, in the mid-1:47s. About 10 yards from the finish I pulled even with them, and they didn't seem to pick up the pace. I expected them to leave me. I thought something was wrong. But Wohlhuter and Boit are still stories above my head."
Wilson also revealed that he has a superstition about eating spaghetti the night before a big race. Normally his wife cooks it, but she had been visiting her hometown the night before, so Wilson went to a restaurant. That says something else about him. He has a cast-iron stomach. Javelin thrower Richard George ate at the same restaurant, was sick all night and couldn't compete.
Not all the top-name performers were embarrassed. Francie Larrieu Lutz continued her winning ways. Back in September she wasn't sure she was going to run this year, but then she and her husband, sprinter Mark Lutz, decided to compete so they could spend the summer together on the European circuit. Francie went on to win all 13 of her 1977 indoor races. Mark, meanwhile, quit running. Now Francie says she is too hooked to stop. Saturday she broke her own 1,500-meter meet record by more than three seconds with a 4:15.66.
Mac Wilkins, the Montreal discus gold medalist, and Al Feuerbach finished one-two in the shotput. They have recently moved into a house Feuerbach bought in the Santa Cruz Mountains near San Jose, complete with a shotput landing area and a garage converted into a weight room. These were their first two considerations in house hunting. Did they bother to look inside the houses they visited? "Only when it was convenient," said Feuerbach. "It's a matter of priorities," explained Wilkins. "Some people need a big car. Some need a sunken bathtub. Some need a shotput landing area."
Feuerbach took the trouble to recite some lyrics he has written to accompany his guitar playing. A favorite is Shotput Blues. With verses like:
I gotta girl but she don't know
The difference between the shotput and the javelin throw.
So let it rain and let it pour, I ain't gonna throw the shot no more.
He threw the shot 65'2" at Drake, but Wilkins threw it eight inches farther to beat him. Perhaps that will inspire Feuerbach to write some lyrics for that old favorite, the Drake Relays Blues.