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The Big Three cross country championship game goes up for grabs today, and barring a bus hijacking between Princeton, N.J. and New Haven, Harvard will be in for one of its tougher meets of the season.
The meet shapes up as a head to head duel between Harvard and Princeton, with Yale expected to finish an inconsequential third in the triangular competition at New Haven. The Tigers boast depth and teamwork and are as strong a unit as coach Bill McCurdy's harriers have faced this season.
Princeton came within an eyelash of winning the Heps (at which Harvard and Navy tied for first). The Tigers' group running in the meet kept them in winning position until Chris Elliott, Princeton's number one runner last year, cramped up and had to drop out. Had he held position the final score could have given Princeton a one-point triumph over the Crimson and Navy, 66-67.
Crimson coach Bill McCurdy says that Princeton hadn't quite the one-two punch to compare with Penn's Childs and Fikes, but in Ron Vander Kraats and Bill Good, "they come pretty close."
They have considerable depth after Vander Kraats and Good," with at least five other runners of proven performance," McCurdy said.
McCurdy says that Princeton compares favorably in strength with the Northeastern squad that upset Harvard in the GBCAA championships.
"They are on a par with Northeastern," McCurdy said. "They are just as good at the top, and considerably deeper down the line."
Going into the meet, Harvard is healthy. McCurdy looks for Bill Durette and Andy Campbell, who dropped out of Harvard's top five in the Hops. McCurdy is hoping for a repeat of the unexpected strong efforts of Fred Linsk and Jim Keefe and is counting on another win from number one man Ric Rojas.
"We must also get the same impassioned efforts from John Quirk and Marshall Jones," McCurdy said. "We were really up for last week's meet. I hope the emotional factor doesn't work against us in the Big Three. We have the psychological disadvantage of being Ivy Champs. Princeton has everything to gain and nothing to lose."
The individual battle should center around Rojas. Yale's Drew Mearns Quirk, Vander Kraats and Good Mearns finished ahead of all but Rojas Friday. He is the top performer and possibly the only legitimate threat for Yale. Quirk beat out Vander Kraats in the stretch drive at the Heps, coming from behind to finish ahead of the Princeton runner.
The Yale course is short, relatively flat and fast. McCurdy would be happier with a longer and tougher course, but is quick to point out that "It really shouldn't make any significant difference."
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