Mary Decker Slaney wasn't able to run, but other established American track and field stars reaffirmed their world-class standing Saturday in the Pepsi Invitational at Drake Stadium.
Slaney said that her right Achilles' tendon was sore in one painful spot after warming up for the mile. She then reluctantly pulled out of the race, not wanting to risk injury with national and world championship meets still ahead of her this season.
Although Slaney was forced to become inactive on a muggy, overcast day, other veterans asserted themselves:
--Mike Tully, who is known as a big meet performer, cleared 19 feet inch in the pole vault for a stadium record. Then, he had one good attempt at an American record height of 19-5 but missed.
--Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the world record-holder in the heptathlon, won the long jump at 22-7 and then was denied a possible American record in the 100-meter hurdles when the automatic timing mechanism malfunctioned.
She was a winner in a hand-timed 12.6 seconds. Stephanie Hightower is the U.S. record-holder at 12.79. Hand-timed races are converted to fully automatic time by adding .24 seconds for the women's hurdles. However, since hand timing varies with individuals, the .24 figure is not absolute.
Suffice to say, she would have broken, or been close to the American record with automatic timing.
--Greg Foster, the world's No. 1-ranked high hurdler, made his outdoor debut in impressive fashion. He pulled away from Tonie Campbell at the third hurdle in the 110-meter race and went on to win in a hand-timed 13.1 seconds.
--John Brenner, who had shattered the American shotput record in two previous meets, couldn't do it a third time. He said he has been bothered by sore ribs and a knee injury.
Nonetheless, Brenner still had five throws over 71 feet with a best of 71-8 3/4. But he didn't threaten his American record of 73-10 3/4.
--Steve Scott, America's best miler for a decade, is still going strong. He won the mile in 3:59.8.
If there was an award for the most courageous athlete in the meet, it probably would have gone to sprinter Mark Witherspoon.
Witherspoon suffered a neck injury in an automobile accident in Houston last Tuesday and wasn't sure he'd be able to compete. But he closed fast in the 100 to win in the fast time of 10.14 seconds, barely beating veteran Harvey Glance, who had the same time.
It was big day for UCLA athletes, past and present. Tully, Foster, Joyner-Kersee and Brenner are former Bruins. The new crop was equally impressive.
Henry Thomas set a school record of 10.18 seconds while finishing third in the 100 against an experienced field. He then came back to win the 200 in 20.37, second fastest time ever by a UCLA athlete.
Danny Everett wasn't intimidated by an international field in the 400. He finished second behind Nigeria's Innocent Egbunike with a time of 44.88. Egbunike had a winning time of 44.75. Everett became the fourth Bruin to go under 45 seconds.
So with Thomas and Everett looking sharp and Mike Marsh getting fourth in the 100, the Bruins appear strong going into the Pacific 10 meet next weekend at Corvallis, Ore., and the NCAA meet June 3-6 at Baton Rouge, La.
Tully has a peculiar predicament. He said that a pole hasn't been manufactured yet to suit his speed, strength, height and weight (6-3, 194).
"If I had the right pole, I would have made 19-5 easily," Tully said. "I'm even designing poles at my home."
Joe Dial holds the American record at 19-4 3/4. Tully believes he has the capability to to go as high as 19-5, or 19-6.
There probably isn't much demand, but Tully could hold a garage sale with his discarded poles. He has 40 of them, including three new ones that were unsuitable to him. Kersee wasn't particularly disappointed that she lost a chance at an American record in the hurdles because her race was hand timed.
"I lost an American record in the heptathlon for the same reason last year," she said. "But I'm pleased that I'm getting a quicker start in the hurdles and I credit that to indoor races where there are only five hurdles and you have to start faster."
Campbell, a former USC hurdler, who has been competing against Foster for several years, was seemingly ready to to mount a new threat to an old nemesis based on his 13.19 time last week at the Modesto Invitational.
But Foster was in command again after slightly trailing Campbell out of the blocks. Campbell was timed in 13.2.
"I didn't run a good technical race," Campbell said. "I took the first hurdle too high and doubted myself over the fourth and fifth hurdles."
Campbell was seemingly more upset about quotes attributed to him last Monday at a luncheon when he said, in essence, he had intentions of beating Foster. He said Saturday that his remarks were misconstrued and he felt that he came off as arrogant.
Foster and Campbell are friends, but Foster didn't speak to Campbell as they were warming up for the race.