Cross Country coach Bill McCurdy, known as a master of understatement, calls his present squad "a strong and experienced team." this year's team combines the talents of three freshman cross country teams which have shared one-loss over the past three seasons.
Furthermore, this year's senior members have never been defeated. As Yardlings, they compiled the first undefeated record since 1920, and once in this winning habit, they won over all comers in dual and triangular competition.
Even with the loss of last year's captain, Dan French, and Al Wills and Ken Wilson, the team is composed of the bulk of last year's squad, plus the addition of the top runners from the undefeated '59 squad.
Leading the team will be Dave Mclean, at present showing the best times of all the harriers. Captain McLean's times are comparable to the best run by last year's number one runner. McLean's appearance is deceptive. He is short and stocky and he runs with short, choppy strides. But he has an ability to take two steps to his longer-limbed opponents' one and has endurance.
Challenging McLean for the number one position is junior Pete Reider, who as a sophomore last year won both the indoor and outdoor Heptagonal 2-mile titles, in addition to placing fourth in fall. Reider also is short, but hid endurance is phenomenal.
Possibly the biggest surprises of the young season have been the showings of sophomore Mac Brown and senior Dave Holmes.
Brown, who never was higher than third man on last year's Yarding team, is presently rated number two man, ahead of Reider. Holmes, who gained local prominence by finishing 27th in the Boston Marathon last spring, is McCurdy's choice for fourth man.
At number five, McCurdy tentatively listed junior Dave Norris, one-third of last year's powerful two-mile trio. The other third, besides Reider, is Ralph Perry, who has been sidelined temporarily with a pulled muscle, but when recovered will undoubtedly edge his was into the top five.
The captain of the '57 team, Bill Morris, is running in the sixth position, while last year's freshman captain, Dyke Benjamin, is listed at seven. Junior French Anderson and seniors John Read, a new-comer, and Jim Cairns, stellar half-miler on the track team, round out the first ten.
A real shocker and indication of the strength and depth of this team is the fact that track captain Dick Wharton is listed no higher than eleventh, even though among the top five last year.
Depth, as much as ability is essential to a winning cross country team, for it must have at least five, not one or two runners who are capable of defeating the opposition. A cross country score is the total o the places of the first five men from each team to cross the finish line, one point for first, two for second, etc. Low team total wins. Twelve runners for each team run the four to five mile, usualy hilly, course. Seven places are allotted to each team, the last two adding to the point total of any of the opponent's five runners who finish behind him.
With this year's depth and potential, the team should have little trouble completing its third consecutive undefeated season, which opens Oct. 5 with B.U. and M.I.T. Even the ultra-conservative McCurdy prophesied, knocking superstitiously on his desk. "If our top men stay in top shape, we should beat anyone we run against."