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Penn Rated Strong Favorite To Retain Heptagonal Title

By Charles B. Straus

Pennsylvania, which has built an Eastern track dynasty almost overnight, is a strong favorite to successfully defend its outdoor Heptagonal title this weekend in Philadelphia while a talented, but undermanned Harvard squad, Army, Princeton, Cornell, and Navy vie for places two through six.

The Quakers, incredibly talented and deep in both the field and the running events, appear to have the meet wrapped up, at least on paper, and are first place threats in a majority of races. They have, among others, a 9.7 100-yd. dash man, 9:00 two-miler in Denis Fikes, a 50.8 intermediate hurdler in Bruce Collins, a 1:51.9 half miler in Jubo Piazza and a 4:08 miler in Karl Thornton. The list is endless, as is the Quickers scoring potential.

Next to Penn Cornell and Navy appear to have the strongest shots at second. The Big Red's best individual threat is miler Don Alexander, who has already run a 4:06.3. while not much is known about the Middies individually except that they are rated a strong contender.

Army and Princeton, both with victories over Harvard, at rated ahead of the Crimson, but Harvard's double loss came while the team was in the throes of injury and walkout problems and thus the Cadets and the Tigers advantage seems questionable.

Where Harvard will finish is extremely difficult to say, but head coach Bill McCurdy said that the squad would not be "going into the meet with the idea of placing fourth or fifth." Depth, as it has all spring, will be McCurdy's biggest problem this weekend. Many races will be completely up to one Crimson entry, especially in the running events where injuries have taken their worst toll.

Both Bob Clayton, in the half mile, and Nick Leone in the quarter will have to go it alone. "They are both good enough to be a threat." McCurdy said yesterday. "The question is how far back they are on the comeback trail."

Austin O'Conner, coming off a good performance at the GBC's, appears to be the top Harvard hope in the sprints, while Fred Linsk, Mike Koerner, and a subpar Rick Rojas will comprise the limited Harvard scoring potential in the distances. Bob Seals, surprising everyone with his strong comeback in the mile, faces a tough field.

Harvard's best scoring potential appears to be in the field where Jay Hughes and Ted DeMars in the hammer, Rich Gilbain in the discus, Fred Lang in the high jump, and Vincent Vanderpoole. Wallace in the long jump appear to have good shots at placing. Kevin Benjamin, with a 49 ft. 9 1/4 in. triple jump, may be the Crimson's top hope for an individual first.

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