Class of '89: One of the Best Ever

From Biotti to Zonis, A Class of Future Stars Checks Into The Yard

Harvard may not provide athletic scholarships, but that's no reason to conclude that Crimson coaches disdain recruiting.

They love it--but more importantly, they need it.

To field championship squads in the Ivies, not to mention nationally competitive hockey, men's and women's soccer, crew, squash and baseball teams, Harvard has to attract quality athletes from across the country--and often across the border.

Take the case of Ramy Rajballie, a soccer midfielder from Toronto and member of the Canadian junior national team. He'll be joining the five All-Ivy selections who boosted Coach Jape Shattuck's squad to one of its finest finishes ever last season.

One Harvard recruit who's already made headlines is Newton's Chris Biotti, a 6-ft., 3-in., 195-lb. defenseman from Belmont Hill, who was the 17th player chosen in the National Hockey League draft.

In order to keep these players flocking to its playing fields, courts and pools, the Harvard athletic department has to entice the prospectives with everything that scholarship money could (but, in this case, doesn't) buy--first-rate facilities, coaching and competition.

At the same time, a delicate balance must be maintained with the academic side of recruiting.

"By and large, we feel real good about the kids coming in," says John Wentzell, assistant director of athletics, softball coach, and liason with the Admissions Office. "The Admissions Office has been more than fair with our applicants. Overall, there are a lot more happy faces than sad faces."

And those happy faces promise to translate into smiles in the stands and ticket office as well. Harvard's three major revenue-producing squads--football, basketball and hockey--had particularily productive off-seasons.

Men's basketball Coach Frank McLaughlin labels the '89 rookie hoopsters "one of the better freshman classes in recent memory."

Among the unusually high number of top prospects who chose to make Briggs Athletic Center their home are: 6-ft., 9-in., 220-lb. Todd Beste from Collegeville, Minn.; 6-ft., 7-in., 200-lb. Matt DeGreeff from Rockville, Md.; 6-ft., 5-in. Tedd Evers from Ridgewood, N.J.; 5-ft., 10-in. Mike Gielen from College Park, Md.; 6-ft., 5-in., 195-lb. Neil Phillips from Germantown, Md.; 6-ft., 8-in. Fred Schernecker from Oregon, Wisc.; 6-ft., 7-in., 220-lb. Martin Skelly from Roanoke, Va.; 6-ft., 5-in., 195-lb. David Wolkoff from New York, N.Y.; and 6-ft., 1-in. Steve Mullery from White Plains, N.Y.

On the ice at Bright Center, Biotti will not be the only NHL selection joining Coach Bill Cleary's team. Forward Ed Krayer of Acton, who was the 150th player chosen in the annual draft, will also join the squad.

And if Cleary continues in his tradition of giving capable freshmen plenty of ice time, both pro prospects should play a major role in Harvard's drive for an NCAA Final Four appearance this winter.

Other Bright-eyed hockey hopefuls include Josh Kaplan, Biotti's defensive partner at Belmont Hill, forwards Paul Howley, Ed Presz and Craig Taucher, and goalie David Clark--whose father captained the '65-'66 Crimson icemen.

Meanwhile, the football team's top recruits face a different prospect--they'll all have to wait at least a year before getting their chance in the limelight. But although all of the Yardlings will be placed on a separate freshman squad, last year's recruiting holds promise for the future at The Stadium.

While the men's soccer team welcomes the addition of Rajballie, the women booters--co-tenants of Ohiri Field--also picked up some new faces over the summer.

Midfielder Cathy Dawson, a First Team High School All-American from Pittsburgh, Penn., is the top prospect in a crop that also includes Amy Winston of Little Rock, Ark. and Californian Alison Keene.

Both soccer squads reached the NCAA quarterfinals last season, and hope to have similar success this year with the influx of new talent.

Both cross-country squads nabbed several fine runners--Katie Toner, Jodie Dushay, and Jill Kelly will join the women, while Mark Foley, Brian Cann, Eric Davis, Tim Bell and John Oja will take to the track for the men.

Softball players to watch on Wentzell's squad--which last year cruised to an all-time high of 17 wins--include: Arlington's Elizabeth Crowley, an outfielder who was named the Boston Globe's All-Scholastic Player of the Year as a high school senior; infielder Nancy Prior, also from the Boston area and a Globe Honorable Mention selection; pitcher Lora Rowning of Oregon; and Ellen Cox, an infielder from Louisville, Ky.

In other diamond action, baseball Coach Alex Nahigian has two promising pitching talents in Rhode Island's Dan McConaghy, a 6-ft., 3-in. left-handed pitcher and 6-ft., 1-in. Joe Currier of New York, also a southpaw.

Also looking to see action on Soldiers Field is a trio of infielders--Richard Riley from Roxbury Latin, Eric Magrisi from Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Pennsylvania, and Casey Cobb from Orono, Me.

The women's tennis squad experienced one of its best-ever recruiting years. Among the top candidates for Coach Don Usher's netwomen are Jackie Farrell, Kristin Bland and Louise Zonis, all from the Boston area; Cindy Buchsbaum of Tucson, Ariz.; and Martha Berkman of Pittsburgh.

Taking to the courts for the men's squad coached by Dave Fish will be Hank Parichabutr.

Men's Swimming Coach Joe Bernal has seven experienced swimmers joining his squad: backstroker Roland Wagner, the Swiss national champion; Olympic qualifier Scott Hoy from Australia; sprinters Keith Kaplan of Mattapan, N.J., and Bob Morrison of Portland, Ind.; Paul Ryder, an all-around swimmer from Servana Park, Md.; distance swimmer Mike Caverly of Lacadia, Ca.; and Robert Perkins, a backstroker from Middlebrook, N.J.