Walter Hewlett, the running machine, has won nine races this year without once being pressed, but to stretch that streak to ten he'll have to do something no Harvard runner has done since 1928--win the IC4A's.
The meet is Monday, in Van Cortlandt Park, New York City, and Hewlett will be up against the top college performers east of the Mississippi. It would be ridiculous to label the Crimson junior the pre-race favorite, but Walt himself admits, "I have as much a chance to win as anybody else."
Under the leadership of Hewlett, Dave Allen, and Captain Bill Crain, the Crimson squad should do better as a team than any other Harvard outfit in the Bill McCurdy era, dating back to 1952. The highest finish yet for a McCurdy-coached team is 12th, in 1957 and 1963. "This year we should be in the top ten and I'd say we even have a shot at the top five," McCurdy said.
Crimson fans will keep close tabs on the team statistics, but Hewlett is bound to be their main interest. Several runners appear to have a shot at grabbing first place, including Georgetown's Joe Lynch, indoor two-mile IC4A track champion last winter and runner-up to Villanova's Vic Zwolak in the IC4A three-mile last spring.
Dick Sharkey, of defending team champion Notre Dame, is another top contender; he finished fourth behind Zwolak last fall.
An outside possibility is Army sophomore Jim Warner, who placed a humble 34th in back of Hewlett in last week's Heptagonals but set all sorts of records for the Cadets during the regular season.
Practice Time Remarkable
But Hewlett, appears to be ready for all comers. In a two-mile run around the freshman track Wednesday, he was timed in an awesome 8:57. "If there hadn't been three other watches on Walt, I wouldn't have believed mine," McCurdy said afterwards.
The coach's hope for a team finish in the top five sems a little bit optimistic, even though the Crimson did score a surprise second place behind Navy in the Heps.
Navy looks like a sure thing to finish in front of Harvard, as does Notre Dame, an amazingly easy winner last year with a relatively young squad.
Georgetown owns a victory over Navy and must be rated a contender for the title. Michigan State has won the IC4A's five of the last eight years, and in the years they didn't win they finished in the top four.
That leaves fifth place open, and to sneak into that position, the Crimson will have to beat out such fearsome contenders as Syracuse, Army, Maryland, and Brown.
Syracuse has beaten Army, and, though the Cadets finished behind the Crimson in the Heps, they whipped a Providence squad during the regular season that handled Harvard with ease. Maryland finished close behind Navy in a dual meet this year, and Brown scored a one-point victory over the Cambridge runners in Providence.
So a more realistic prediction for the Crimson Monday is somewhere around eighth place, certainly no mean achievement. The Harvard squad is again without John Ogden and Keith Chiappa and to finish that high, they'll have to run on inspiration, something this team has so far managed to do well.