NEW ORLEANS -- All that stands between Dan and Dave are two Chrises and an Aric.
But don't worry.
Dan O'Brien and Dave Johnson are on course after Day One in the decathlon at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.
As expected, yesterday belonged to O'Brien. The reigning world champion was ahead of the world-record pace with 4,698 points after five events.
Johnson, the strongest second-day decathlete in the field, was fifth with 4,194 points. Bunched between O'Brien and Johnson were Chris Huffins (4,262), Aric Long (4,233) and Chris Wilcox (4,203).
"It was a perfect day," O'Brien said. "I'm just a little tired."
Competing in 90-degree temperature and 50 percent humidity, O'Brien opened with a meet record of 10.50 seconds in the 100, was the best in the long jump (25 feet, 11 inches) and shot put (54-5 1/2 ), second best in the high jump (6-10 1/4), and closed with a 47.92 in the 400.
"I had a front row seat to watch Dan compete, and it was great," Johnson said.
But O'Brien gave the crowd -- and his competitors -- a scare in the 400. He favored his right leg in the final 50 meters. That's the same leg that has been weakened by a stress fracture.
"The leg is fine," O'Brien said. "It didn't hurt, though I did feel it a few times. It was a good first day."
Although he faltered in the shot put (49-4 1/2 ), long jump (23-10 1/4 ) and high jump (6-6 3/4 ), Johnson main
tained contact with the top group with an 11.18 in the 100 and a 47.92 in the 400.
After nearly six months of non-stop action to promote a shoe company, Johnson said he was just happy to compete. Today, he'll aim for an Olympic spot in the 100 hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500 meters.
"The recent media hype has been a bit of a distraction," Johnson said. "It's a little harder to just relax with the added pressure. But I've been on the decathlon road for 10 years, and this isn't going to stop me from getting to Barcelona, where I am going to settle things."
Brian Diemer won the 3,000 steeplechase in 8 minutes, 16.56 seconds. The fight for the last two spots was decided by a photo with Danny Lopez (8:16.87) and Mark Croghan (8:16.88) in, and Tom Nohilly (8:16.92) out.
John Trautmann of Georgetown won the men's 5,000 meters in 13:40.30, easily beating second-place finisher Robert Kennedy and third-place finisher John Gregorek.
The women's 10,000 belonged to three-time world cross country champion Lynn Jennings, who won in 32:55.98. Judi St. Hilaire passed Gwynneth Coogan in the final 10 meters to finish second.
The evening was dotted with preliminaries.
In the 110-meter hurdles, three-time world champion Greg Foster, two-time reigning Olympic champion Roger Kingdom and Tony Dees, the premeet favorite, were clustered in the same heat. All passed through. So did Jack Pierce, formerly of Morgan State University, Jerry Roney, a Woodlawn High School graduate who attends James Madison University, and Renaldo Nehemiah, the former world record-holder and Maryland graduate.
Among those who advanced in the women's 1,500-meter semifinals were PattiSue Plumer (4:09.78) and Mary Slaney (4:10.35).
Look out for the Santa Monica Track Club in the men's 200. Mike Marsh (20.21), Leroy Burrell (20.38) and Carl Lewis (20.38) went 1-2-5 in qualifying, and they weren't even using all gears. World champion Michael Johnson was at 20.44.
Among the 13 who cleared the 7-2 1/2 standard and advanced in the men's high jump, were Tony Barton, a Milford Mill High School graduate, and Leo Williams, formerly of the Naval Academy.