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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.