Despite the absence of the team's three best runners, the Harvard women's cross country squad managed a respectable sixth place finish in the New England Championships at Burlington, Vt., Saturday.
Darlene Beckford, Johanna Forman, and Paula Newnham all were forced to remain home, nursing nagging injuries. So the burden fell on the shoulders of the so-called "second wave" of Crimson harriers.
"There is no doubt in my mind that we would have won the meet if all our girls had been healthy," coach Robert "Pappy" Hunt said yesterday. "But we have some big meets coming up (the Big Three Meet and the Easterns in the next two weekends), and we felt that it's more important to have them available then than to let them run in this meet and possibly aggravate their injuries."
Meet experience will be critical in the upcoming challenges; and Saturday's event provided the rest of the team with an excellent opportunity to compete, knowing that their performances would count in the team scoring.
Kris Linsley led the Harvard onslaught, finishing 28th in 18:37 and Kat Taylor followed six seconds later for 35th. "Kat's performance was probably our best, considering that that was only her third cross country race in the past two years." Linsley said yesterday. Taylor has been recovering from a pulled hamstring injury incurred in England last year.
Team captain Karla Amble and freshman Leslie Voit completed the 5000-meter Vermont course three seconds apart at 19:03 and 19:06, for 53rd and 56th places, respectively. Diane Jacobsen had troubles with the crowd at the starting line, but she recovered to round out the Harvard scoring in 85th place at 19:37.
UMass took the team title Saturday with 66 points. Harvard's 227-point total placed it directly behind Ivy rivals Brown and Dartmouth, two teams the Crimson can reasonably expect to defeat when at full strength. Former Crimson star Anne Sullivan, who transferred to Brown last spring, finished second in the field of 140.