It was a strange and frustrating Tuesday afternoon for the Harvard track team.
On the strange side were Crimson trackmen Joe Pelligrini, Dave Kinney, Mike Stewart, and co-captain Dan Sullivan. The field-event foursome did their version of "Kiss" in Crimson sweatsuits, complete with white-and-black painted faces.
On the frustrating end was Harvard's opening day loss to Northeastern, 85-74, on the home oval, and the 11-point final margin gives little indication of how close the Crimson came to upending the powerhouse group from Huntington Avenue.
To really understand the true frustration of the Harvard effort, one must look back to the early end of the contest. Start with the pole vault, normally a sure thing for Harvard with Geoff Stiles working the runway.
But on this gloomy, wind-tossed afternoon, the event became an uncontrollable nightmare, with only one competitor clearing the opening height. Northeastern's Paul Grant cleared 14 feet on his final try and registered the only points in the event. Not a true Stiles afternoon.
Look to the discus, where Crimson powerhouse Pelligrini is a perennial favorite. But despite the grease-paint "Kiss" facade, Pelligrini threw only 156 ft. 10 in., well below his capabilities. Northeastern's Bill Kovach won the event with a new stadium record of 175 ft.
The false faces brought better results in the javelin, though, as Kinney and Stewart took first and second, respectively, with throws of 188-4 and 183-9.
Then there was Sullivan, plagued by poor practices since the Puerto Rico trip where he could not even clear 6 ft., who painted his face for "psyche," and walked away with the high jump at 6 ft. 6 in.
A respectable showing in the long and triple jump pits from Hayan Kasali (second in both events) and Chris Edozien (third in the triple jump), and a Harvard sweep in the hammer throw with Tom Lenz taking the event at 192 ft. 9 in., kept Harvard on track.
It even looked like there might be some Crimson magic at work when freshman Jean-Marc Chapus came from nowhere to sprint away with the 200-meter dash (21-6) late in the meet. His win put Harvard ahead, 73-72, with two events left.
But the margin was perilously little, because the Huskies had double-barreled power awaiting the 1500-meter run. It was not enough that co-captain Paul Organ had placed first in the 110-meter high hurdles (14.8) and second in the 400-meter intermediates, or that John Dweyer added second in the highs and Gary Schmidt won the intermediates (55.4).
John Chafee's strong 800-meter run, finishing little more than a second behind talented Husky Mark Lech (1:53.3) and Chris Niceodemus's last second shoot-the-gap, second-place finish in the 400-meter run proved too little.
Even an amazing one-two finish in the 3000-meter steeplechase from Reed Eichner (9:17.1) and Peter Fitzsimmons (9:17.4) fell short when the meet entered the closing minutes.
Crimson runners Ed Sheehan and Mark Meyer gave the 5000-meters an all-out effort, but John and Bob Flora, Northeastern's superb distance duo, raced to one-two status; and the afternoon was over, the Huskies ahead by six points with only the five-point 1600-meter rally remaining.
There were encouraging performances, especially in the hurdles and 200-meter runs; but as Crimson coach Bill McCurdy said. "You can't argue too much with our running--it's just that they were running faster."
And in the end, they ran away with it.
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