Sophomore Doug Hardin scored a convincing first in yesterday's cross-country opener against Providence College, but the perenially strong Friars swept five of the next seven places to triumph, 25-32.
Providence's third straight victory over Harvard was easier than usual because three of the Crimson's top six runners--Bob Stempson, Dick Howe, and captain Jim Baker--were hampered by injuries.
Any gloom resulting from the team's loss was considerably brightened by the debut of Hardin, who became the second sophomore in 25 years to win his first varsity race. The first was Walt Hewlett '66, and it looks as if the small, unimposing sophomore from Short Hills, N.J., may continue to follow in that former champion's footsteps.
Hardin took the lead from Harvard senior Jim Smith early on the approximately 3 1/2-mile Franklin Park course and ran alone, finishing 21 seconds ahead of Providence's Paul Harris and only 12 seconds off the course record.
Smith, who ran with Harris most of the way, had to bring on a strong kick to pull out third.
The key to Providence's victory was a tight three-man bunch, Rob Crooke, Larry Olsen, and A1 Campbell. They got into good scoring position very early and no Harvard runner challenged them for fourth, fifth, and sixth places.
Sophomore Bruce Jones garnered seventh for Harvard in another encouraging debut, but Bob Powers became the Friars fifth scorer when he came home one minute 39 seconds off Hardin's 28:08 pace.
Joe Ryan, who came from back in the pack to finish ninth, and Trey Burns, 13th, finished out the Crimson scoring. (In cross-country, each team's first five places are added together and the low total wins.)
Both coaches expressed satisfaction at their club's initial outing, and as Friar mentor Tom Hardin commented, "If they'd had Stempson and Baker, it would probably have been decided by one point, like last year's race."
Baker reported to trainning camp with a sprained ankle, and yesterday ran gamely, but limply. Stempson infected his toe the day before the meet and couldn't compete. On top of that, Dick Howe, who was figured to be in the top three for Harvard, came up with a stitch in his side halfway through the race and finished on guts alone.
With a healthy Baker, Stempson, and Howe to go along with Smith and sensational sophomores Hardin and Jones, Harvard's cross-country team could go a long way. Last year, Providence administered the Crimson's lone dual-meet defeat, and this will probably be the pattern this year, if Harvard can muster its harriers past potentially dangerous Northeastern this Wednesday.
Harvard's Roy Shaw captured the freshman race, but, as in the varsity meet, Providence had the depth and the victory, 24-33.