Wracked by injury and illness, not to mention the absence of second man Reed Eichner, the men's cross country team dug deep into its reserves Saturday afternoon the edge Dartmouth for third place, 122-127, in the NCAA qualifier here at Franklin Park and earn itself a berth in next week's nationals.
Providence College ran away with the meet as expected, placing all five of its scorers in the top 13 and recording just 36 points. Friar Ray Treacy spoiled Northeastern all-American Bruce Bick-ford's last race at Franklin Park with a 29:28 victory, 27 seconds ahead of Bick-ford. Boston University, which finished second with 83 points, also qualified for the national meet.
"Everything that could have gone wrong for us did," Crimson sophomore Peter Johnson said after the meet. "It's really amazing that we managed to grab third."
With Eichner out; number three Buck Logan suffering from the flu or a bad cold; and John Murphy, the Crimson's number one man for the second half of the season, severely hampered by tendonitis in his left knee; Harvard, in effect, ran without its three top runners.
Surprisingly strong performances from Noel Scidmore and captain Thad McNulty, who finished one-two for the Crimson, respectively, along with the first scoring efforts of freshmen Eric Schuler and Bruce Weber, filled in the gaps.
"What an effort those guys made," coach Bill McCurdy said. "We made it with guys that were nowhere around at the beginning of the season. This is just a bunch of guys that are going to try for it even if they have no business doing it."
The race began with a blistering pace set by Bickford, who split at the mile in 4:21, 35 yards ahead of Harvard's Murphy. The leaders slowed down considerably in the next mile, as Treacy moved up on Bick-ford: and the two ran together through the two-mile split at 9:03, about 75 yards ahead of the rest of the field.
Into the third mile, the fight for number one was down to Treacy and Bickford, while Providence already had wrapped up the team victory; but Harvard held solid team position in relation to Boston University and the rest of the field. Then the problems started.
Illness claimed a struggling Logan as he finally dropped out of the race at the three-mile point, when he experienced but and cold spells.
"I felt OK this morning," Logan said immediately following the meet, "but you never know how you're really going to feel until you get moving."
Meanwhile, Johnson, who was running 20th at three miles, developed a stitch in his side that slowed him way down. "I dropped 25 places after I got that cramp," he said. "People started passing me right and left."
Murphy, who had been running first for the Crimson through four miles, felt back behind Scidmore and McNulty as the pain in his knee slowed him down to a walk in a couple of instances. "After a while I just couldn't run anymore," Murphy said after race. "My knee locked and wouldn't bend. I almost stopped twice. I wasn't ready for so much pain."
"I am really proud of us," McNulty said. "If I'd known that Eichner and Buck wouldn't run and Murph would be walking the last mile to finish 24th, I'd have slept late, watched the football game, and then read the results in the paper on Sunday."
NCAA Qualifier at Franklin Park, Mass. 10,00 meters
Providence 36, Boston University 83, Harvard 122, Dartmouth 127, UConn 133, Yale 158, UMass 169, Northeastern 177, UMaine 184, Boston College 186
1. Treacy (P) 29:58 2. Bickford (N) 30:25; 3. Crossan (UNH) 30:42; 4. Kimball (BU) 30:51; 5. Brigham (ME) 30:51; 6. Moloney (P) 30:53; 7. Wilson (Bu) 30:55; 8. Crooke (P) 31:09; 9. Drost (BU) 31:16; 10. Tatannani (D) 31:17; 11. Wehrwein (Y) 31:25; 12. Dillon (P) 31:29; 13. Fallon (P) 31:37; 14. Scidmore (H) 31:45; 15. Hogan (BC) 32:00; 16. Wavro (BC) 32:03; 17. McNulty (H) 32:04; 18. Kirksey (UMass) 32:06; 19. MacDougall (UMass) 32:10; 20. O'Connor (UConn) 32:10; 21. Skehane (Y) 32:12; 22. O'Neil (UConn) 32:13; 23. Carley (D) 32:14; 24. Murphy (H) 32:15; 25. Cobb (HC) 32:16