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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Penn Wins Heptagonal Title; Crimson Thinclads Place 7th

By Charles B. Straus

Until recently a visitor to the track locker room in Dillon Field House could marvel at the hardware in the trophy case by the water fountain. But space in the case has been slowly increasing recently. In Philadelphia on Saturday the Heptagonal team trophy, one that used to adorn Harvard's case regularly, remained in Penn's possession for the second straight year.

The Quakers, outdistancing second place Navy 86-70, and Harvard, taking only 12 points to finish in a tie for seventh with Yale, have probably reached their respective high and low water marks. A remarkable switch has seen Penn quickly climb from the depths to the top of Ivy track circuit, while the Crimson have, through injuries and a high rate of self-attrition, fallen momentarily from their premier status to one of a talented also ran.

Saturday's meet was a case in point. Harvard, which has in the past relied on a successful combination of outstanding individuals and great depth, was unable to win a single event, or place more than one man in any final. Penn, on the other hand, won six events, and placed two or more individuals in seven. In other words, Penn won the same way Harvard used to.

But in a season in which the number one quarter miler, half miler, miler, hurdler pole vaulter, not to mention a top long-triple jumper, and a promising two miler, have been injured or unable to compete at one point or another, Harvard's performance was lamentable but, alas, predictable. "Considering all the problems, a low point total was predictable," coach Bill McCurdy said yesterday. "But we had a lot of near misses and some good efforts."

The only real bright spots for Harvard in Saturday's sunshine were Kevin Benjamin's triple jump. Bob Clayton in the half mile, and Nick Leone in the 440. Benjamin, with a jump of 49'1" was unable to equal his incredible 49'9 1/4" performance at the GBC's and was frustrated in a battle for first by Cornell's Jim Leonard, who set a meet record with a jump of 49'8 1/2".

Clayton, a runner who responds extremely well under pressure, took the Crimson's only other second in the half mile, with a 1:54.6 clocking, while Leone, showing signs of things to come, recorded a fine 48.9 quarter mile in the heats, but ran out of gas in the finals, placing sixth.

An ever ebullient McCurdy pointed to these "real positive signs", and said he was "dismissing the meet and looking forward to Yale."

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