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The Harvard cross-country team battled its way to a third-place finish in the Greater Boston Championships at Franklin Park yesterday.
Brandeis came home the winner, nipping Northeastern by a point, 54-55. Harvard's score was 77, followed closely by Boston College with 81. Boston University, MIT and Tufts filled out the bottom of the roster in the order.
In the words of Harvard coach Bill McCurdy, Northeastern top gun John Flora "blossomed" on the way to first place with a blazing 23:39 finish. Bill Roach of Boston College finished second at a safe distance at 24:25, followed by a Brandeis duo consisting of Buddy Bostic (24:32) and Don Finelli (24:35).
Bob Flora of Northeastern pulled in fifth at 24:38, which was far from his best performance. Dick Hayden followed closely at sixth, four seconds later.
The next three slots went to the first Crimson runners to cross the line. Ed Sheehan placed seventh at 24:46, followed by teammates Reid Eichner at 24:52 and captain Stein Rafto at 24:54. The fourth and fifth Harvard finishers were Brian Finn, who came in at 24th at 25:53, and Thad McNulty, who finished 29th at 26:15.
Harvard raced to a commanding position early in the meet, but was hurt almost immediately when top gun Mark Meyer pulled up short with a twisted ankle -- the same ankle that has been bedevilling him for almost two weeks.
"That was a good example of the workings of Rafto's Law," McCurdy said about Meyer's sprained ankle. "It's about the same as Murphy's Law, except it says if anything can go wrong, it will go worse," he added.
The Crimson harrier hung tough in the aftermath, however, and Eichner and Rafto managed to post excellent times of 4:33 and 4:37 respectively, at the mile mark. Sheehan ran extremely well for most of the race, dueling with B.C.'s Roach for possession of the second slot, until he tightened up in the last half mile and was passed by a group of runners.
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