A gleam shines from the eyes of track coach Bill McCurdy when he contemplates the potental of the 1963 spring track squad. Despite the loss by graduation of seven lettermen including captain and ace miler, Mark Hamlin, this year's varsity is a good bet to become one of the best Crimson teams in recent years.
Bolstered by sophomore sensation Aggrey Awori and a collection of lesser stars from the class of '65, the indoor team churned through ten straight dual meet victories this winter. Coach McCurdy says that going outdoors will produce some problems for the team, but because of the addition of three, events in which the Crimson is particularly strong, the exodus from Briggs Cage should help more than it will hurt.
The three events added in the spring are the javelin and discuss throws and the hop, step and jump. In his wildest dreams no Ivy League coach would dare hope for the strength Harvard has in the javelin. Hobie Armstrong, Hank Hatch, Tom Holcombe, and Peter Lamp all consistently fling the spear over 200 ft., with sophomore Lamp holding the University record of 212 ft., 6 in. The Crimson is not as strong in the discus, but McCurdy can count on quite a few points from John Bakkensen who set a freshman record in that event last year. Hobie Armstrong will give opponents trouble in the hop, step and jump. Only a late-season injury prevented him from breaking the 50 ft. mark last year.
More sophomores will give the Crimson strength in most of the other field events. The team will rely heavily on Art Croasdale in the shot put and hammer throw, and if Croasdale's injured hand continues to heal he should improve on his excellent winter showing. Loren Clayman will support Croasdale in the hammer, and sophomore Ray Freiden may help out in the shot put.
The broad jump can be handled ably by Awori and Chris Ohiri, both of whom often cleared 24 ft. indoors, and by Chukhuma Azikiwe, a countryman of Nigerian Ohiri. No one in the Heptagonal League will challenge the Crimson in the event. The two Nigerians can also be effective in the hop, step and jump.
In contrast to the preponderance of Crimson talent in the other field events, Harvard has nobody very good in either the high jump or the pole vault. Jack Spitzburg is improving in the former and Jay Mahaney has shown progress in the latter, but neither matches the calibre of the better men in the East. McCurdy wishes anyone interested in acting as number two man in either event to contact him immediately.
It is hard to be overly concerned with the Crimson's weakness in those two field events after taking stock of the talent available for the running events. Awori owns the hurdles and the sprints, and is well backed up by Hatch, Armstrong, Ohiri, Spitzberg, and sophomore John Parker.
If captain Ed Hamlin and running mate Ed Meehan stay healthy, they will provide strength in the $80, mile, and two-mile runs, depending on where the need is greatest in a particular meet. Sophomores Crain, Huvelle, and Ogden will also be relied on for the middle distance runs.
At the beginning of the winter, the Crimson appeared weak in the 600 yard race, but sophomores Keith Chiappa and Gage McAfee were pleasant surprises in that event and could fill the holes in the spring 400 yard run.
In spite of all the talent at his disposal, there are still a number of problems McCurdy must solve if the '63 team is to be a great one instead of merely one of McCurdy's many very good teams.
The big question on the coach's mind is. "How much can Awori do?" He is capable of handling most Eastern competition in the sprints, hurdles, and broad jump, and he also may be needed to anchor a somewhat flimsy mile relay team. But there is a limit to Awori's endurance, and the limit may be lower than in the winter because of the longer outdoor hurdle events. To make matters worse for the Crimson, the Heptagonal athletic directors will probably vote to replace the 220 yd. low hurdles with a 440 yd. hurdle run.
During the team's stay in Puerto Rico next week, McCurdy will seek answers to this question and others such as how to best insure the safety of Chris Ohiri's often pulled muscles. If he finds them, don't be too surprised if Harvard takes Army, Yale and everyone else and wins the outdoor heptagonals for the first time since 1956.