The track was slow and there was enough dust to cause black lung disease but the final indoor track meet to be held in Briggs Cage inspired record-setting performances as Northeastern ran past Harvard Saturday afternoon, 65-53.
It was a fitting finale for Harvard's fabled athletic facility. (This was the last home meet for the Crimson and they will open next year in the new athletic complex.)
Harvard and Northeastern are the top indoor track teams in the Boston area. Each meet between the two powers in characterized by intense personal duels and new records. The battle on Saturday was no exception.
Ron Chamber's record performance in the triple jump clinched the victory for Northeastern. The Crimson had cut the Husky lead to 54-50, but Chambers hopped, skipped, and jumped 48-ft. 9-in. to set a new meet and cage record. Harvard's Hasan Kayali gained second place in the triple jump but it was too little, too late for the Crimson to triumph.
Stiles Vaults to Victory
Harvard had pulled close on the strength of Geoff Stiles' pole vaulting. Stiles was the only survivor of the first stage of ragged competition. In the second round, Stiles cleared 15-ft. 6-in. to tie the Briggs Cage record.
Harvard coach Bill McCurdy was surprised that the final score was so close after Northeastern ran up victories in all the distance events. McCurdy said, "Northeastern was more ready than we were. They were strong in the distances and middle-distances which is also our area of strangth."
Harvard's Pete Fitzsimmons and Huskie John Flora both broke the cage record in the two-mile. The start of the race saw Harvard's Reed Eichner sprint to an early lead. After a few laps he faltered and it was a two-man duel between Fitzsimmons and Flora.
The thin Crimson crowd cheered when Fitzsimmons passed Flora's shoulder with a half-mile left, but Flora regained the lead with three laps left and finished in 8:56.6, a new meet record.
The 40-yd. dash and the 40-yd. hurdles were pleasant surprises for the Harvard coaching staff. McCurdy said he was unsure of the strength of his sprinters before the meet, but the Crimson won both races.
Larry Schember used a quick start to blaze to a 4.7 second victory in the 40-yd. dash. Schember was so keen to fly off the starting block, a camera click caused him to false start once before winning his race.
Paul Organ kicked his sweats behind the starting blocks as he flexed for the start of the 40-yd. hurdles, and despite kicking over every hurdle, he managed to win in a time of 5.5 seconds.
Former Crimson stars Dan Jiggetts and Mel Embree are gone from Briggs Cage but juniors Ed Ajootian and Dan Sullivan will fill their spots in the new facility. Adjootian won the 35-lb. weight with a heave of 59-ft. 9-in. and Sullivan soared 6-ft. 6-in. to win the high jump.
The Crimson lost the nucleus of last year's team last June and two of their captains, Todd Hooks and Steve Brown, are injured.
The harriers need to regroup before their next outing, the Greater Boston Championships, on February 4.