They didn't get whipped--they just got outscored.
Although the Harvard men's track team suffered a fourth place finish in Sunday's 48th Annual Heptagonal Championships at Cornell, many of the Crimson participants posted stellar individual performances.
Princeton sprinted past Harvard and the rest of the field to take first place with a team score of 117. Penn, with 106 points, and Dartmouth, with 96, settled for the silver and the bronze, respectively.
So it sounds as if the Crimson and its 77.3 points pulled a young Mike Powell and just didn't show up.
Not quite, precisely because of those fine performances contributed my members of the Harvard squad.
Senior co-captain Bryan Henry dusted the 800 meter run with a winning time of 1:53.33, and sophomore Texan Steve Brannon cleared 16'.75" to catapult to first place in the pole vault.
And the list goes on.
Junior Ben Bowen placed third in the 500 meter run, and senior Joe Ghartey notched fourth place in the pentathalon.
One particularly exceptional performer was junior Darin Shearer. Reminiscent of a young Steve Ovett, Shearer contributed in many ways and through many distances.
Shearer won the 1000 meter run with 2:28.75 time, and also took third place in the more grueling 3000 meter contest with a clocking of 8:21.39. He then trucked on to run a strong leg in Harvard's fourth place finish in the 4x800 meter relay (7:42.23).
But perhaps most telling was his showing in the mile run, where he did not even place in the top six. Although Shearer was tripped up early on in his preliminary heat, he still managed to catch up form behind to finish second.
In the mile finals, two Crimson runners put in strong efforts. Ian Carswell grabbed second place with a 4:15.34 time, and junior Canadian Matthew Bundle wrapped up the fourth place position with a time of 4:17.82.
Finally, the Harvard DMR squad finished second to brown in 10:08.07.
With all these outstanding performances, why on earth did the Crimson finish fourth?
Captain Bryan Henry attributes the poor finish to the depth chart.
"The top six places can score points," Henry said. "But we didn't have the depth to score the fifth and sixth places."
Certainly, schools with the bigger teams--like Princeton--have a definite advantage in that area because they have the manpower to fill out those lower end positions.
In the jumping events, the lack of depth took a ferocious toll.
"Because of injuries, we had nobody to compete in the long jump or the triple jump," Henry said. "And that was like giving points away."
Due to the lack of depth, Henry sees the fourth place finish as an accomplishment for the Crimson.
"I fear that our fourth place finish may sound negative when it appears in The Crimson," he said. "But it really isn't. We had all of our guys qualify for finals--and most placed in the top three. for a small team we did very well."