Even with the brilliant blue sky yesterday in Cambridge, the weather somehow seemed better at Franklin Park, where the women's cross country team (4-2) devasted all opposition at the Greater Boston Championships (GBCs).
The harriers defeated their closest rival, Boston College, by a score of 18-64.
Paced by the one-two finish of freshman sensation Darlene Beckford and junior Johanna Forman, Coach Pappy Hunt's team swept five of the first six places en route to recording their impressive victory.
Only Cathy Flick, of Boston College, who finished third, broke Harvard's sweep of the top six places. As Hunt said after the race, "We not only won it, we killed 'em."
Kristen Linsley, Karla Amble, and Anita Diaz finished fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively, easily filling a gap created by the absence of Paula Newnham, who is still out with a score ankle.
Both Forman and Linsley recorded personal bests for the Franklin Park course, with Forman continuing her strong comeback after a year's layoff.
The meet closely resembled previous races, with Beckford, followed by Forman, pulling away from the pack before the one mile mark. Beckford continued to increase her lead, winning by a 21 second margin.
Positions stabilized after the first mile, with the same 10 runners leading form the end of the first mile until the finish.
The Crimson welcomed the victory especially after a disappointing loss to Dartmouth last Friday. "Today was a real comeback," said Hunt. "and we're back on cloud nine."
He attributed the victory to the Harvard squad's greater experience, and said that the other teams which competed in the GBCs have not faced the same quality of opposition.
Hunt said a score achilles tendon almost kept Beckford from competing yesterday, but the injury did not appear to affect his star runner, as she recorded the fifth fastest time (17:22) ever run on the 5,000 meter Franklin Park course.
Beckford said although the injury bothered her before the race, and tightened up after the finish, it did not affect her while running.
Whether Beckford likes it or not, the sore tendon may keep her out of next Sunday's New England Championships at the University of Vermont. Hunt who said he considers the Big Three meet, against Princeton and Yale, more important, may choose to rest Beckford in preparation for that competition.
But it really was a beautiful day. Maybe Pappy summed it up best, when he said "today was one of those days when everything you do turns to gold."
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