"What's the word?" captain Mark Meyer asked as he accepted a trophy on behalf of the Crimson harriers who demolished the likes of Yale and Princeton in the annual Big Three meet yesterday in New Haven.
"The Herd is the word," bellowed all of the assembled Harvard cross country runners, both male and female, varsity and junior varsity. Meanwhile, the black and blue Tigers tucked their tails between their legs and slunk quietly homeward.
The trio of seniors (Peter Fitzsimmons, Meyer, and Ed Sheehan) led the way to victory once again as the men from Cambridge took the top four places, finishing with 18 points to Princeton's 41 and Yale's 73 totals.
Breaking the course record held by Art Switchenko of Dartmouth by 50 seconds, Fitzsimmons finished the 5.08-mile course in 26:38. Teammates Sheehan and Meyer weren't far behind, coming home in 27 minutes flat. John Murphy completed the straight, copping fourth with a time of 27:17. With his parents in town from Florida just to watch him perform. Thad McNulty obligingly ran the race of his college career, grabbing eight, but more importantly setting a quick pace that was the key to the Harvard whitewash.
McNulty came out of the start steaming. There were lots of red jerseys out front right at the beginning and McNulty decided "to go ahead and try to break them other guys (from Princeton and Yale) right away." The strategy worked. By the one-and-a-half-mile mark, the Herd held the top five slots. "It was a little bit surprising to be in such good shape," Fitzsimmons admitted later.
After the second mile it was Fitzie's turn to make a move and the rest of the Crimson pack followed him. For the last half of the race it was easy, just running comfortably and holding on to already established positions.
Even the hills which break up the mostly flat course between the third and fourth miles aided the Crimson. Starting off ahead of the competition, the Harvard harriers had put more distance between themselves and their pursuers by the time they all reached level ground. "We just cruised," Meyer said.
Next Friday, the thinclads take their string of victories to treacherous Van Courtland Park in New York City for the Heptagonals, where their stiffest competition should come from Cornell.
"We've been looking forward to this meet since the season started." Meyer said. "We couldn't be in any better shape for it what with such a good Big Three behind us," he added.
"Just give us a great big headline and send it to Ithaca," Fitzie said. "Let them know we're coming."
The big headline was no problem, but what's the zipcode in Ithaca?