Just a week ago Harvard appeared a sure thing to win its first Big Three cross-country title since 1957. Coach Bill McCurdy who is not prone to undue optimism, said last week that "this is the year." The meet will be at New Haven today.
Yale was known to have absolutely nothing and Princeton, though more of an unknown quantity, had absorbed a 22-46 shellacking from the likes of Rutgers. Harvard's only defeat had come in a respectable showing against powerful Cornell and Brown squads.
Then came the news of the Tigers' 15 point win last Friday over a Penn team that was only one point behind Harvard in a meet earlier this year. Although the Crimson was badly disabled when it faced Penn, Coach McCurdy nonetheless found the Princeton victory "very disturbing."
Placed Four Men
Against Penn, Princeton placed four men in the top five, which seems to put a damper on Crimson hopes to win the meet "up front" where it is particularly strong.
If it is any consolation. Yale still has absolutely nothing. McCurdy kindly refers to the Elis as "the dark horse." Their only interest in the meet will be in seeing if their number one man. Jeff Sidney, can break into the top five. Sidney is the only Ell runner of note.
Princeton is a different story, or, as McCurdy puts it, "a cat of a different color." Bay Somers was very impressive in finishing first against Penn and may battle the Crimson's Walt Hewlett and Ed Meehan for one of the top two spots today.
Second Line Dangerous
Assuming that Hewiett, Meehan, and Somera will share the first three places, the outcome hingen on the performances of both teams' second line runners. And it is here that the Tigers seem dangerous.
Princeton's number two man, Don Plerson, finished second against Penn, with a full 30 seconds to sparn. The Tigers' Ronn Odell and Dick Asche then finished fourth and fifth. When Harvard met Penn, Hewiett and Meshan were the only Crimson runners in the top five. Princeton also has a strong number five man in Bob Wilson, a senior who has been close behind Odell and Asche all year.
Fortunately, Harvard is now in the best shape it has been in all year. Captain Ed Meshan is still bothered by sore Achilles' tendons, but his record-breaking performance against Dartmouth last Friday was his finest of the season. If Walt Hewiett finishes first, as expected, a one-two Harvard sweep may be in the offing.
Bill Crain and John Ogden are also back in good form after being slowed by illnesses earlier this fall. Thus far, Crain has not been nearly the runner he was last year when he finished third in the Big Three Meet behind Hamlin and Yale's Bobby Mack. He was a strong third against Dartmouth, however, and might be able to rise to the occasion today as he did last year.
Ogden may surprise a few people today also, for he has been surprising them all year. A middle-distance man by trade, he was not counted on to be much help at all in cross-country. But he has turned out to be a solid fourth man for the Crimson. McCurdy says, "Ogden is a great competitor and unless the race gets away from him in the middle, he is a good bet to handle his opponents.