Harvard's varsity track team will be one of three co-favorites in the 35th annual Heptagonal track and field championships Saturday at Philadelphia. Defending champion Yale and perennial powerhouse Army will be the other top contenders in the meet, which will include the eight Ivy League schools plus Army and Navy.
Yale has a commanding lead in the overall Heps standings, having won 13 times, compared to seven each for runners-up Harvard and Army. In last year's meet, the Eli's were picked to place no better then third, behind the Crimson and the Cadets, but outstanding performances in the running events, coupled with a Harvard-Army standoff in the weight events, allowed the Bulldogs to edge Army by one point.
The Crimson, while going into the meet with the best team record, 4-0, must do well in the weight and distance events to stay in contention for the championship. Yale, 4-2, is again expected to shine in the running events and has the potential to place in some of the field events, usually a weak spot for the Elis.
Army, which has lost to both Harvard and Yale this season, must rely on its all-around strength to keep it in contention. The Cadets will probably pose the greatest threat to the strong Crimson weight team, while Yale runners will offer the toughest challenge to Harvard's distance men.
Yale distance men Frank Shorter and Steve Bittner could give the Crimson headaches in the three distance events. Bittner will probably concentrate on the 880 or mile run Saturday, where the chief Harvard contenders will be Royce Shaw and Keith Colburn. Although both Shaw and Colburn sport better career times than Bittner, neither has been able to top the Yale star's times this season in either event.
Shorter will be a top threat in the mile, and will be a clear favorite in the two-mile over the Crimson's Dave Pottetti and Princeton's Eamon Downey.
If the Weight and running events result in a standoff, the jumping events could be the deciding factor in the meet. Leading the squad will be high-jumper Jim Coleman, triple jumper Walter Johnson, and pole vaulter Pete Lazarus, all of whom surpassed or equalled personal records last week.