By midafternoonlast Saturday in Philadelphia, with the temperature in the mid-70s and the sunburning down full bore, Dwight Stones knew he was about to break his worldrecord in the high jump. At the moment he and Mike Winsor, a 19-year-oldfreshman from Central Michigan, were dueling at 7'4¼".
"All I haveto do is wait for them to move that thing up another three inches and thengo," Stones told a photographer. "It will be like stepping out of ashower."
Three weeksearlier Stones had predicted to Ed Fabricius, the sports information directorat the University of Pennsylvania, which was hosting this year's NCAA trackchampionships, that he would break the record. In this Olympic year, the NCAAwas offering such superb athletes as Earl Bell, who had set a world record of18'7¼" in the pole vault the week before, and Auburn sprinter HarveyGlance, plus three 400-meter men—Herman Frazier, Evis Jennings and KenRandle—who are strong favorites to form the U.S. entry at Montreal. Still,Fabricius felt he needed more gate appeal.
He telephoned RonAllice, Stones' coach at Long Beach State. He told Allice he needed a hype forthe gate and asked if he could get a good quote from Stones. Allice said hewould call him back.
June 13, 1976
The next day hedid. "Stones said he will set a world record," Allice toldFabricius.
"Can I quotehim?"
"Stones saidyou can put it on a billboard if you want."
For nearly threeyears Stones had been trying to break the record of 7'6½" he had set in1973. He had taken 63 cracks at 7'7", and each time he had failed. Theheight, he was afraid, had him psyched.
"Theneverything changed for me," Stones said last weekend. "Three weeks agoeverything came together. I felt stronger than ever before. I was faster thanat anytime in my life. My chiropractor said go. My physiologist said go. Theyboth predicted a world record. Suddenly I could look at 7'7" andlaugh."
The chiropractoris Dr. Leroy Perry Jr., who has been working medical miracles for the track andfield athletes at USC. Stones says he had been handicapped by a congenitallyweak back that caused an imbalance in his hips. A little manipulation and Dr.Perry had the hips back into alignment.
Dr. David Martin,a physiologist at Georgia State, had worked with Stones on other problems. Forone, there is a history of cardiac trouble in the Olympic bronze medalist'sfamily. After six weeks Dr. Martin had helped him to improve his heartbeatrecovery and had pronounced the organ strong and sound.
"I personallyguarantee a world record," said Dr. Martin.
On Thursday,qualifying day, he found a little too much competition. Stones was one of 39trying to make the finals. At day's end 17 had cleared 7', but only three hadmanaged 7'1". That meant that on Saturday there would be 17 jumpers in thefinal.
On Friday, Stonesheld a 90-minute clinic for a group of coaches. Attending was the unheraldedWinsor, a 6'1" freshman who had a lifetime best of 7'2". Afterward heasked Stones what he could do to improve his jumping.
"You make twoleft turns in your approach," Stones said. "And you use your right armlike some women floppers do. You must make your turns more gracefully. And yourright arm should be ahead of your body over the bar. Got it?"
On SaturdayWinsor had it. Quickly the field was narrowed. As Stones put it, "We gotrid of the riffraff at 7'1". Soon there was only the Olympian and hisstudent. Stones was the first to try for 7'5".
"I didn'tlike going ahead of the kid," said Stones, an ancient of 22. "If Imissed my first try and he made his, I was in trouble."
Stones went over7'5" on his first attempt. He turned in the pit and pointed at Winsor."O.K., now it's on you." Winsor made the height on his first attempt aswell. Coming up off the foam, he cockily pointed toward Stones and said,"Now it's up to you."
The bar went upto 7'7". "Funny," Stones said later, "I wasn't even thinking ofthe 7'7". The height had lost its psych. All I was thinking was, 'If I missthis and he makes it I not only lose the world record, I lose the meet. Comeon, Dwight, get it on.' "
Getting it on,Stones cleared the world-record height on his first attempt. Then arising, heagain pointed at Winsor and said, "Now it's back on you again." Winsorgrinned and hugged Stones. "O.K.," Stones said gruffly. "Get ittogether. Take your time. The officials are great; they won't hurry you. Waitfor a lull in the wind. Get it done because you can do it."
Winsor made threeattempts, all misses. He went over to Stones. "What did I dowrong?"
A small smileplayed upon Stones' lips. "Kid," he said, "you have just attendedyour last clinic. From now on I am barring all athletes."
Then he hurriedoff to watch the last few events in the meet. An avid track fan, Stones misseslittle of what goes on during the competition around him. Saturday, betweenjumps, he often climbed high into the stands at Franklin Field for a betterview. He was there on Friday when Glance, speeding strongly toward a place onthe U.S. Olympic team, won the 100 meters in 10.16. On Saturday the Auburnfreshman made it a double, winning the 200 in 20.74.
And Stones wasgroaning with the rest on Saturday when Bell, after winning with an 18'1¼",failed three times in his bid for an 18'8" world record. "But what Ireally enjoyed," Stones said, "was watching those 400-meter dudesrun."
The 400 was afirst-time match-up between Randle of USC, Frazier (Arizona State) and Jennings(Mississippi State), and each wanted a victory to take into the Olympic Trials.Randle had run a 44.9 in his semifinal on Friday, but he had come away limpingbadly. All year he has been suffering from tendinitis behind his right knee.Then Dr. Perry, who came in with the USC team, began to work his magic.
"He worked onit three times today," Randle said before Saturday's final. "He usesacupressure. I don't know what he does but when he finishes I feel like I couldrun forever. He's just super. We all are praying they put him on our Olympicmedical staff."
Not believingthat strongly in chiropractic magic, Jennings had decided to keep an eye onFrazier and forget about Randle. Frazier, who drew an outside lane, forcing himto run without being able to see either rival, decided to run just as fast ashe could.
Frazier, who ranhis first 440 when he was a senior in high school, blazed away to a strongearly lead. "I came out of that last turn and I couldn't hear anybody,"he said later. "I figured I'd won."
But at the 300mark, both Randle and Jennings had begun to move. "And for me that was 30yards too late," Jennings said. "Stupid! On this track you only have 60yards coming out of the last turn and that's too little ground for me. But Ilearned. It will be different at Eugene."
While Frazierfigured he was home free and Jennings was bemoaning his faulty tactics, Randleturned it on over the last 30 meters and won in 45.2. That was enough to insureUSC's 25th NCAA outdoor title since 1926. Frazier was second (45.3), withJennings third (45.5).
"I almostfell on the backstretch," said Randle, grabbing his right leg. "Itreally scared me. I thought I was going down. Boy, if my leg had really beenready I'd have done a 44.2. Thank God it's over. This leg is sore."
Then he wentlimping off in search of Dr. Perry. "Hey," he yelled at a teammate,"where's Dr. Magic Hands?"