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All eight Ivy League squads that have been humiliated by Harvard's undefeated cross-country team get their chance for revenge this afternoon when they meet at the Heptagonals at New York's Van Cortlandt Park.
Army and Navy will have a shot as well, but it is highly unlikely that the results will be any different from those earlier this fall-or from those of the past two years. Harvard owns the Heps, and its fortunate possession of depth that insures sweeps in dual meets, works even more to its advantage in multi entrant meets.
Unlike regular season contests, when the Crimson is permitted to run 12 men, it can only enter seven this afternoon, but its top seven should still be better than anyone else's.
Doug Hardin, who captured the individual championship in each of the last two years. is gone, but Harvard will hardly miss him. Most of the time he stood distinctly above the rest of his teammates, and this fall coach Bill McCurdy has been blessed with five men of almost equal talent.
Captain Keith Colburn, Roy Shaw. Tom Spengler and Mike Koerner have all won meets for the Crimson this year. and junior Dave Pottetti is only a few steps behind them. Any one of the five could win today, and the rest are sure to follow fairly closely behind, bunched comfortably in a group that will clinch the meet early.
It will take a major reversal of form and performance to dethrone the Crimson, but if a drastic Harvard collapse occurs, there will be a fight between Princeton and Pennsylvania for the top spot. Both squads have talented competitors that gave Harvard trouble last month and either may finish the individual champion. No other team has sufficient depth to be a realistic contender.
The Quakers brilliant sophomore. Julio Piazza, should be the favorite in the meet, but unless he is able to pull along at least three teammates into the top ten finishers. Penn's chances of victory are scant.
Princeton's Rich Stafford, who finished less than 50 yards behind Piazza when they raced two weeks ago could also take the meet, as could his teammate. Eamon Downey.
But the problem that confronts Penn and Princeton is the same one that plagued them in October when the Crimson ran them down in dual meets-lack of adequate fourth and fifth men. Piazza romped easily when Penn challenged Harvard at Van Cortlandt, but the Crimson put four men in front of the Quakers second finisher and walked away without effort. 17-35.
Last week at New Haven, when Harvard smashed Princeton to take its seventh consecutive. Big Three crown, it did the same to Princeton.
McCurdy's strategy is to mercilessly dog the opposition's top two runners early in the race, hounding them with his Shaws and Spenglers until they burn themselves out. Last week, it was crucial for the Tigers to finish both Stafford and Downey in the top three, and Tom Yunck not far behind. By the second mile. Downey was finished. Stafford dropped out of contention a mile or so later, and the Crimson captured the first three places. with Colburn winning in record time. But in order to adopt that killing strategy you need depth. Harvard has it. and late this afternoon, barring unforeseen disasters, it will also have its third consecutive. Heptagonals championship.
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