Dwight Stones, the world's premier high jumper at the moment, got "revenge" last Saturday night. After his jump on February 7 at the Los Angeles Times Indoor Games was remeasured, officials denied him a record he though he had broken; Stones claimed he was "robbed." Last weekend he cleared the needed height of 7 ft. 5 1/2 in. in Oklahoma to break his own indoor mark and prove to the world he really could do it.
Not that many people doubted him. Stones also holds the outdoor record ft. 6 1/2 in. in Munich, July 11, 1973 for the high jump. He owns a bronze medal from the 1972 Olympics and is favored to take the gold next year. He has won every meet he has entered this year except for one, the Millrose Games in Madison Square Garden January 31, when his leap of 7 ft. 2 in wasn't good enought to take another first.
So Stones has another score to settle tomorrow when he returns to Madison Square Garden for the U.S. Olympic invitational Irack Meet, and gets a crack at the only man to beat him this year.
"It would be interesting to see him lose twice this year," a not-too-disinterested observer, Mel Embree, said Tuesday.
Embree, Harvard's record breaking high jumper, is the man who edged Stones on fewer misses in the prestigious Millrose Games. And Embree will be in the field Friday in New York City looking to make it two in a row over the much-publicized Stones.
The quiet but confident Harvard junior doesn't look at his Millrose win as a fluke and wants to remain unbeaten on the season. He doesn't accept the various excuses Stones gave after his defeat either.
Stones complained that an official distracted him during his two-minute pre-jump crouch by calling out the time remaining and breaking his concentration.
"All that stuff I read after the meet was 'kind of funny," Embree said, "The one that cracks me up was that he was distracted. They didn't do that to anyone on my side and I really don't remember them doing it on Stones's side."
Embree starts his run at the bar from the left, while Stones approaches the bar from the right. The rules say that a jumper may crouch and stare at the bar only two minutes before starting the run to the bar.
But while Stones complained about the crouch, Embree could have griped about his run. Both runners need a lot of room for their approaches, and the officials angled the position of the pit to the right to accomodate the high stepping Stones. This in turn forced Embree to shorten his run from his usual ten steps down to eight. But the shortened run and the so-called poor footing that Stones also complained of, did not stop Embree from attaining what is now his second best mark of the season.
Embree's best jump came a week later in the Greater Bostons where his Fosbury Flop broke the University and meet records with a leap of 7 ft. 2 1/4 in. The jump surpassed his own Harvard mark of 7 ft. 1 in. set last December against Boston College, and the Briggs Cage mark of 7 ft. 1 1/2 in. set by Olympian John Thomas in 1960.
Last year, Embree set the Harvard record indoors at 7 ft. 1/4 in. in a Channel Five Invitational and he's been improving ever since. He has been jumping seven years (three years less than Stones), starting at his high school in East Lansing. Michigan, and hopes to peak next year for the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.
The Olympic record is 7 ft. 4 1/4 in. and Stones has been talking about winning the gold medal by at least four inches over the competition. Embree has been a bit more realistic and not quite as brash about 1976.
"I would like to clear seven-three before I go to Detroit" for the NCAA Indoor track championships March 14-15 in Cobol Hall, Embree said Tuesday, "and it would be nice if it came Friday."
The rematch with Stones is sponsored by the New York State Olympic Committee, but has no bearing on who fills the three high jump spots on the United States team. Nor will it just be a two-man show. Though Embree feels that the field doesn't look quite as strong as the Millrose field, the competition will be considerable.
Former world record holder Pat Matzdorf, Claude Ferragne, Dennis Adams and Gene White (who Embree says has the most incredible spring of any jumper he's seen) will be in the Garden looking to top both Embree and Stones.
This will be the last time Stones and Embree will meet this year except for the Penn Relays. Embree would like to continue his her over the cocky Stones with an eye towards the Olympics. "If he thinks he's jinxed this year." Embree said, "then I won't have to worry so much next year."
If Harvard's modest superstar has his way, Stones won't get his revenge tomorrow.