Harriers Prepared for Heps
Dartmouth Favored in Men's and Women's Divisions
The Harvard cross country teams will be looking to star in their own version of the hit Broadway show "Into the Woods" today in the Heptagonals at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City.
While both squads will have to contend with tough Yale and Dartmouth teams, the greatest challenge of the Heps is to establish good position in the opening half-mile before the course narrows into its renowned, heavily-wooded midsection.
"You can be 10 meters behind another runner and you just can't see him." Harvard Assistant Coach Ed Sheehan said.
Everyone mentions the importance of jumping out to a good lead before the race hits the wooded areas.
"You have to make sure you're in good position by the woods, by the one-half mile mark," said junior Robert Benjamin, who was the men's top finisher last week at HYPs.
"Because there so many more people, you have to get out well and settle early," Harvard All-America Suzanne Jones said. "It's very hard to pass in the woods."
Ten teams--all eight Ivy League schools, Army and Navy--will be competing in their biggest race of the year. As well as the dense greenery, the sheer number of runners competing also creates unfamiliar difficulties for most competitors.
"Competitionwise, because we've already raced against the two favorites, Dartmouth and Yale, it's a similar race," Jones said, "but because we also have the top individuals from the other schools running, it's a much different race."
"It's probably most difficult for the freshmen because some haven't seen the numbers in this kind of race," Benjamin added.
What Did Dushay?
The women's squad will be looking to avenge its loss to Yale at the HYPs last week and to Dartmouth early in the season.
"We were disappointed with our second-place finish," Jones said. "I don't think anybody thought we raced as well as we could."
Included among those running for the women's team will be Jones, Jody Dushay (who finished third at HYPs), freshman Rachel Lewis (6th), Ellen Villa (12th) and Hollie Moore (13th).
"We'd have to work pretty hard to get higher than third," Lewis admitted.
Dartmouth is expected to dominate the men's division, looking to win its record-tying sixth consecutive Heps championship. Yale, Brown and Navy are also expected to challenge the Crimson, which finished second at HYPs last week.
"Dartmouth will be tough to beat," Benjamin said. "They dominated the last race against us, but they will only have one or two of their top people running at Heps."
A big question mark for the Crimson recently has been keeping people healthy. Ted Ullyot is expected to run although he is still hobbled by injuries and Todd Wells, who finished ninth at HYPs, is also expected to run despite a nagging hip problem that has bothered him for the last few weeks.
"We've been talking a lot lately and we haven't performed up to expectations," Benjamin said, "so this is our last chance to really prove to ourselves how good we think we are."
Besides Benjamin and Wells, those who placed last week and expected to run are Robert Morrison (7th), Andrew Webster (11th) and Brian Davis (12th).
"It probably won't be much different from other races," Lewis said, "but it's more crowded with people and you get more excited."