The Navy cross country squad flooded the top 12 positions with six men and breezed to the Heptagonal championship at Van Courtland Park yesterday.
The Midshipmen accumulated only 38 points to easily outdistance pre-meet favorites Penn and Princeton, who finished with 92 and 98 respectively. The Crimson finished far back with a whopping 188 points, stumbling to a disappointing seventh in the ten-team field.
"We just didn't give enough," Coach Bill McCurdy said following the race. "But, hell, maybe we were lucky to do as well as we did since we started with only seven men and lost two of them almost immediately."
There were some bright spots in the basically dismal Harvard performance. The young and the old supplied the Crimson with two All-Ivy stars, as senior captain Jim Keefe copped the fourth slot and freshman Stein Rafto finished 21st.
Dirk Skinner was the surprising Crimson third man as he placed 49th with a gutsy effort. He has been plagued by injuries all year which have greatly limited his training and racing experience.
"Dirk put in an impassioned effort," McCurdy said. "This meet was a tribute to his courage and tenacity."
The race began poorly for the Crimson as Navy sailed out at a grueling pace. "All I could see was the yellow of Navy," Keefe said. "I hung back and Bill Muller and I were about 20th at the mile mark."
Disaster struck the Crimson at the two-mile mark. Muller tripped and sprawled to the ground with a twisted ankle. He could not resume as the pack swept by him.
Within a mile, Bill Okerman developed stomach cramps. He doggedly struggled on but was soon forced to drop from the race, leaving the Crimson with the bare minimum of five runners.
By this point an Army duo of Dennis Trujillo and Curtis Alitz had opened up a lead on a pack of midshipmen interspersed with harriers from the Ivy schools.
Trujillo stretched his margin and coasted to victory in 24:34. Alitz finished second and was followed by freshman Ron Bunnell of Princeton. Keefe surged to take fourth in 26:04 to nip the front of the Navy corps led by Steve Hubbard.
"I hung back in the early going and then really pushed it at the end," Keefe said. "Maybe if I'd hung a little closer I could have picked off a few more people."
"As a team we didn't run real well," Keefe continued. "McCurdy was pretty pissed off."