Champagne flowed and cigars smouldered aboard the Mohawk charter from Ithaca late Saturday as a jubilant Harvard track team celebrated a stunning Heptagonal triumph over favored Army, 55 1/2-51 1/2.
The Crimson cindermen combined five individual victories and several gritty backup performances to set up a showdown race in the meet's final event, the two-mile relay. Army sought to duplicate the result of December's dual meet, when a narrow win in the same relay climaxed a 57-51 Cadet victory.
But the anticipated rematch never occurred. Army's leadoff runner dropped the baton on the first lap, and the Harvard foursome of Tom Spengler, John Gillis, Jon Enscoe, and Keith Colburn never let them back into the race. Enscoe and Colburn each clocked 1:54 half-mile legs to outdistance second-place Cornell.
All four relay runners had performed well in earlier events. Colburn eased through his afternoon trial in the 1000, then ran a superb tactical race to nip Yale's Steve Bittner in the finals. Starting last, the redheaded junior gradually worked his way up to second place. With 200 yards to go, he burst past Bittner un-expectedly and held off a last-ditch challenge to snap the wire in 2-12.6.
Enscoe and Spengler had a hand in Harvard's most profitable event, the mile. After allowing Penn's Jerry Williams to set the pace for seven laps. Crimson ace Royce Shaw took the lead and moved away from the field for the victory in 4:12.6. Enscoe and Spengler followed Shaw at five-yard intervals, with Enscoe's final kick just falling short of catching Shaw. The one-two-three sweep harvested a big 13 points for Coach Bill McCurdy. Gillis placed fifth in the 600 in 1:12.5.
Doug Hardin's spectacular, record-setting two-mile triumph earned him the meet's outstanding performer award for the second consecutive year. Hardin ran just off the pace for most of the race, following Yale's Frank Shorter and Princeton's Eamon Downey. With just over a lap to go, he uncorked an astounding kick to open up a twenty-yard lead. Hardin's last quarter-mile was clocked in 60 seconds, and his overall time of 8:48.6 shattered his own meet record of 8:56.4 set last year. Dave Pottetti took fourth place behind Downey and Shorter.
Weight men Dick Benka and Ed Nosal helped the Crimson to an early 19-2 lead over Army at the conclusion of the afternoon field events. Captain Benka led teammate Charlie Ajootian in a one-two sweep of the shot put. The winning toss was a lackluster 57'4". Ajootian's distance of 54'7 1/4" was a personal best for the hardworking senior. Nosal spun the 35-pound weight 60'3" to outdistance Doug Backers and Ed Potts of Navy by six inches.
Harvard's injury-prone long jumpers managed to get two competitors through to the finals, but Skip Hare's third place at 23'9" provided the only points.