The Harvard harriers should fare better today in Van Cortlandt Park against Penn and Columbia than they did last Tuesday against Providence and UMass at home. The Friars, featuring a trio of Irishmen, came up from the Rhode Island capital to effectively demolish both foes.
"I'm told there used to be a law on the books in this state," McCurdy said yesterday, "that said that no one from Rhode Island could enter Massachusetts. Well, they repealed it at the wrong time as far as I'm concerned."
The Quakers and Lions should not strike quite the same fear in the hearts of the Crimson. Today's Ivy League opener, McCurdy said, "won't be as much like running into a Mack Truck as last week's meet was." Harvard, indeed, stands a good chance of capturing its first win of the season.
Penn a Threat
Penn should prove to be the biggest threat. Last year, however, McCurdy was quoted as saying that "If we beat Penn we win the meet," Columbia responded by ambushing Harvard. Penn ended up taking the meet. The Quakers, who were so strong last season with stars like Dave Merrick and Dennis Fikes, have graduated most of the top runners.
Without Fikes, Merrick, Jim Rafferty and others, "all of whom," McCurdy said, "participated in thumping the hell out of us last year," the Penn squad is left with mostly freshmen. "I guess you could call them a Team of Mystery," McCurdy said.
The only returning veterans are captain Peter Christ and junior Dave McKee who are leading the 2-0 squad this season. Other Quaker threats include sophomore Bruce Fiori and freshman Ken Roberts and Steve Sholtes. The Penn harriers have posted victories over both Lehigh (20-35) and LaSalle (18-45) going into today's contest.
Columbia is essentially the same team that bushwacked Harvard on the trails of Van Cortlandt last year en route to a 9-4 season, the best in the history of the school. The squad will be led by second-year captain Raymond Fitzgibbon, with returning sophomore stars Paul Heck, Paul Lammert and Larry Hansen and senior Desi Foynes making the Lions a threat.
McCurdy has not yet had an extensive scouting report on Columbia, but the times from their first meet "are nothing to write home to mother about." the Lions dropped their opener against Rutgers, St. John's and Fordham.
With the Crimson squad in comparatively good health compared to the start of the season, McCurdy is hopeful for a victory. "I honestly think we have a good chance, and the boys do too. The experience we gained in the first two meets should prove helpful."
The Harvard squad, for the most part, is an inexperienced group of runners, with only Jim Keefe returning from the top of last year's successful team. Bull Muller, though a senior, "might as well be a sophomore as far as experience goes," McCurdy feels. Number three man Bill Okerman and Brian Dunn were essentially JV runners until this season. Sophomore Jeff Campbell ran with the varsity only twoard the end of his freshman year and so far this season has been hampered with knee and achilles tendon injuries. Stein Rafto, a freshman, is just in his first varsity season.
"We should be better prepared to run. We're getting better with every meet," McCurdy said, "and it might help running an unfamiliar course. When you don't know the course, you don't know when you're supposed to get tired."