Ed Sheehan and Geoff Stiles of the varsity Indoor Track team are continuing strenuous workouts in preparation for next weekend's Greater Boston Championships.
The Championships at the Indoor Track and Tennis Facility, will feature a rematch of last weekend's losing battle with uptown rival Northeastern, and Stiles, for one, has not forgotten the disappointment of the 65-51 loss.
"They caught us while we were in exam period," said Stiles, winner of the pole vault with a leap of 16 feet. "But the team's impression of what's going to happen next week is different now," he added.
Sheehan, who broke nine minutes for the first time in his career against the Huskies in the two-mile, concurred, and commented, "Last year, there was unity among the athletes in the individual events, but now the enthusiasm has spread to the entire team."
Sheehan said that the increased interest of the Harvard community has helped the team post a 3-1 record to date. "People come to watch us now," said the Wevmouth. Massachusetts product. "At the Northeastern meet, about 200 more people than last year showed up. And the alumni support has been tremendous."
Stiles also looked to the new running faculity as a major contributor to the team's success. Whereas last year in briggs Cage he concentrated on vaulting, now he spends "half the time running, and it helps a great deal." Obviously, Associate Coach Ed Stowell said, "Last year, Geoff was a 15' vaulter. This year, he's already cleared 16' twice,"
One of those 16 foot vaults was against a Northeastern pole-vaulting squad sporting a 15' 9" leaper, prompting Stowell to comment, "He always beats the man he has to, and is our most consistent performer. The better the competition, the better he does."
Although Stiles won the outdoor Hexagonal meet last year, he had hoped for the elusive 16 foot mark which he said "was plaguing me." A vault of 16 feet would have captured the Eastern championships last year.
"Now I'm shooting for 16' 9", which will break the Harvard record (16' 8") and qualify me for the NCAA's," noted Stiles. The last Harvard vaulter to qualify for the Nationals was Steve Schoenover in 1962. He still holds the University record.
Sheehan, too, is a runner who has dramatically improved this year. Hampered by injuries last season, he has come on to run more than 20 seconds below his previous best in the two-mile, 9:20. Coach Stowell credits the new track and said, "It's enabled Ed to run the workouts necessary. At Briggs, we always had to worry about getting hurt."
Sheehan considers working out on the new surface a great psychological advantage in running as well. "Even practice times are astounding," he said. "Just stepping in the place makes you want to run," he added.
Even his 8:57 two-mile versus Northeastern does not satisfy Sheehan, however, "I feel I could have done 8:52," he said. "And I'm recovering from ten-donitis in my knees," an affliction that has cut his weekly workout schedule from 120 miles to 80.
Sheehan placed seventh in the Greater Boston Cross-Country championships this fall. He is hoping for an NCAA berth in the three-mile. Against Boston College earlier this season, he lost track of how many laps he had run in a two-mile race.
"The timer put out a sign for two laps remaining for a guy I'd lapped, then put out the sign for one after I'd gone by him," Sheehan said. "It wasn't until half a lap was left that they fired the gun, and I realized what had happened."
Hopefully, Sheehan won't encounter such problems in the Greater Boston Championships or the upcoming Big Three Championship against Yale and Princeton. Stiles looks confidently to team success in both meets, but eyes the Heptagonal meet as a test for this year's Heps.
"Every year, we look to the Heps," said Stiles. "In past years, we had a glimmer of hope, but this year, it's for real.