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FRANKLIN PARK--There wasn't much doubt about it after the first two miles. The cross country team soundly beat the University of Massachusetts and Providence College here yesterday, and in the process proved wrong a poll of New England coaches--at least for the time being.
The final scores were Harvard 20, Providence 35; and Harvard 18, UMass 39.
The harriers went into the meet just 12 hours after receiving the news that New England coaches had rated them only the third best team in New England. The University of Connecticut sports information office compiled the poll before the beginning of the season.
Of course, the harriers didn't put too much stock in the poll, since they had beaten top ranked Northeastern the week before. Still, with the P.C. Friars rated No. 2, the Crimson wasn't ready to take yesterday's meet sitting down.
They didn't. Ric Rojas, pulled ahead after trailing during the first half mile of the race, and was never behind after that. He won going away in 26:44.
And it didn't stop there. Running only ten seconds behind Rojas was captain John Quirk. He, too, went ahead early and kept building up a lead.
Finishing third was Providence's Tom Smith, who put on a good fight throughout the race. He was clocked at 26:59 on the five mile plus course.
Finishing fourth in 27:18 was the Crimson's Marshall Jones, followed by another Harvard man. Andy Campbell, who continues to impress sports fans with his comeback after a one-year layoff. He finished in 27:22.
The one sore spot for the Harvard harriers was the number of opposition runners between scoring spots number four and five. Harvard's Jim Keefe scored in 11th place in 27:50. While last year's sophomore star has been impressive since training camp, the harriers will have to tighten up between now and the end of the week if they are to overcome the Penn cross country bulldozer in Friday's crucial contest.
Nonetheless, Harvard's ability to keep a top four offers considerable hope for the rest of the season.
In the remaining top ten spots, UMass took places six, seven and eight, followed by two Providence runners. Bill Stewart and Jim Farley in the nine and ten spots.
Coach Bill McCurdy said he was pleased with the meet results, but acknowledged that his runners have their work cut out for them on Friday.
Massachusetts moved out in front at the start of the race, but by the time the runners reached the mile mark. Harvard had six men up in front of a tightly bunched group of 12-15 men.
By the time the runners got to the two mile market. Harvard's six--Rojas, Quirk, Keefe, Campbell, Jimmy Hughes and Jones--were still up front, and only Providence's Smith was threatening. Then Hughes dropped back--he finished 16th--and Keefe's pace fell off. This left four Crimson runners in the lead.
Smith caught Jones at the four-and-a-half mile mark, near Clubhouse Hill. They ran together for the next quarter mile, passing Campbell. Then Smith pulled ahead of Jones for his the third place finish.
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