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Both Villanova and Harvard, the top two finishers in the university division varsity race in Monday's IC4A cross country meet, were running without the help of top men.
One of the reasons why Villanova, the first finisher, was so heavily favored was the return of Olympian Marty Liquori, who had run only one meet this fall due to a leg injury. But he dropped out of Monday's race early and had to be helped off the course to have X- rays taken, as advised by Harvard trainer Jimmy Fair.
Liquori is known more for his accomplishments in middle distance events, but he is also a threat in cross country.
Villanova coach Jumbo Elliott pointed out the night before the race that three others among his best harriers had injuries. Don Walsh and Dave Wright, who finished second and fifth respectively, were not in top condition. Walsh had shin splints and Wright was suffering from sprained ligaments. Elliott said. Chris Mason had a pulled leg musele but finished 28th.
Harvard's main problem was the absence of Tom Spengler, who had finished at or near the top in all early-season meets until he developed a serious hip injury late in October. He was the third man to finish for Harvard in last year's IC4A's, and it was thought a week ago that he would be able to run in Monday's meet.
Other physical problems which hurt the Crimson were Roy Shaw's sprained left ankle, an injury suffered early in the race, and Howie Foye's cold. But these two ailments probably did not make the difference between winning and coming in second.
Amidst the disappointment with the point total of 138, there was a consolation in that Harvard hasn't finished so high since winning the race in 1931. And there is a chance to make up for the dissatisfying results. Harvard will run a team in the NCAA meet Monday on the same course.
Villanova Tough to Stop
But stopping Villanova is a seemingly impossible task. The Wildeats have won three IC4A titles in a row, and only two members of the seven harriers who ran for Villanova on Monday are seniors. Another discouraging fact is Villanova's victory in the freshman meet.
But there was encouragement in the performance by Harvard captain Keith Colburn, who finished third Monday. He was running second before being passed by the Wildcats' Walsh and had hopes of catching him, but the fast early pace had tired him too much to get to Walsh, who is a stronger distance man. Colburn's time was over a minute better than his clocking last year, when he finished 18th.
In order to improve on Monday's outcome, not only will Harvard's physical situation have to improve, but Dave Pottetti and Mike Koerner will have to do better. Pottetti was 23rd in last year's NCAA's, when the Crimson was ninth.
The Crimson freshmen felt particularly let down by their IC4A performance. They were fourth, better than the seventh which. Harvard took in 1968, but they had the material to beat everyone. The Yardlings were probably shaken by the fact that they were not able to run as a group as they have been able to do all season.
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