An arrow-straight American track star helps his Soviet rival to defect, becoming the Russian's pupil, friend, and protector during the worst of the Cold War. Much ground is covered in this deceptively modest look at the mid-century and the Midwest. There are no false steps. Mark Morris has a very bright future. A student at Iowa University, he is smart, from a respectable Republican family, very attractive to Iowa City coeds, and he is the fastest miler in America. It's not surprising, then, that he has come to the attention of Iowa's Senator Dykstra, or that Dykstra has let it be known that if he plays his cards correctly, Morris could do quite well in state politics. As a sign of the things to come, Dykstra gets Mark onto the presidential commission on physical fitness and into a news photograph with President Eisenhower. But these nicely greased skids take an odd twist. At an international track meet, Mark is approached by his only serious rival, Vladimir Petrovich of the USSR, who wants to know if Mark, with his exalted connections, would please help him to defect. Mark does. The grateful Petrovich comes to Iowa City to be Mark's teammate and, after miles and miles of training, Mark's friend. But the friendship, Mark's pleasing future, and his real worth are all put to the test when he and the world learn that Vladimir is homosexual. On its face, a fine sports story. Underneath, a wise, very well-balanced look at an unbalanced time.