The real season--the championship phase of the men's cross country season--gets under way this Friday afternoon at Franklin Park, as the Crimson harriers host Princeton and Yale in the Big Three.
For the first time in recent history the meet shapes up to be more than the traditional grudge match--all three teams are capable of bringing home the big shiny cup that comes with the bragging rights.
On paper Yale is the favorite, boasting a 5-1 record and a convincing victory over a tough Penn squad that ran all over both Princeton and Harvard. Led by junior Geoff Mearns and old-timer Peter Wehrwein (a senior who took a year off), the guys from New Haven have had a surprisingly successful season to date.
The Elis haven't won the Big Three in almost 20 years--not since 1960--so they want this one bad. On the other hand, Princeton, Heptagonal champs for the last four years and currently an uninspiring 6-5, is working on its worse record since 1964 when the squad finished 5-4. But that shouldn't keep the Tigers from getting "up" for the race.
"Princeton's not very good," Crimson captain Thad McNulty said yesterday, "but they'll be psyched because they hate our guts."
Freshman Tiger Dave Olds has led Princeton throughout the season and he will most likely own the first black and orange jersey that crosses the finish line tomorrow afternoon. Backing him up is a duo of veterans from last year's championship squad, Don Challener, who finished sixth in last year's Heps, and Dan Heimerdinger.
As for the Crimson, 4-4 on the year, everyone is healthy for the first time all year, and coach Bill McCurdy is "eager to get at them." Reed Eichner, a junior who won this race as a freshman, and John Murphy, another junior, should be setting the pace from the start. Franklin Park is their home course and they know how to run it. "As long as we get a lead on them, they won't catch up," Eichner said yesterday.
"Our season's wrapped up in this one," McCurdy said.