The men's cross country team, affectionately called the "unherd" by senior captain Thad McNulty, belied that nickname Saturday afternoon, thrashing Northeastern, 20-35, for the second straight year and giving fair warning that it will indeed be "heard" from this season.
Coach Bill McCurdy modestly admitted, "We just kicked the hell out of them."
Reid Eichner, returning from a year off, led the effort for the thinclads, finishing just 20 seconds behind the Huskies' multi All-American Bruce Bickford in a time of 30:40. The four other Harvard scorers finished in a clump. McNulty and John Murphy tied for third at 31:40, while Noel Scidmore and newcomer Buck Logan hit the tape together one second later.
The rain and mud did not seem to bother the Crimson harriers as they established their position by the halfway point of the recently lengthened 10,000-meter race and coasted to an easy victory.
"It was a lousy day," McNulty said, "but it was twice as lousy for Northeastern."
The race started out with a little bit of cat and mouse. Neither team was willing to make a serious move before testing out the turf. The field was still closely bunched at the one-mile point before Bickford, McNulty, Logan, Eichner and Murphy picked up the pace and moved away from the rest of the pack.
By the three-mile marker, the four Crimson jerseys had been joined by a fifth--Scidmore. Bickford, the lone Northeastern runner at the front of the field, spurted into first; and only Eichner tried to catch him. With a meet victory in the bag, the rest of the Harvard contingent regrouped, crossing the finish line together.
The performances of Scidmore, Eichner and Logan, while not a total surprise, certainly exceeded expectations. For the first time in his collegiate career, Eichner has reasonable pre-season preparation to fall back on in addition to his tremendous natural ability. Meanwhile, junior Scidmore sports good health not seen since his bout with pneumonia two years ago.
Logan is a brand new addition to the team. One of the top high school distance runners in the country last year, he is already a mature competitor, apparently not prone to freshman jitters.
"Running in college is different from high school," Logan said. "In high school, cross country is only three miles instead of six. After the third mile I was a little tired, but then I guess I got my second wind."
The junior varsity completed the Harvard sweep, defeating two opponents on Saturday. Led by three freshman Eric Schuler, Scott Lindquist and Andy Regan, who finished in a dead heat for first place, the Crimson trounced Northeastern, 18-37, and Naval Academy Prep, 20-39.
On Tuesday, the Crimson squad faces the toughest competition of the season in a tri-meet with UMass and perennial eastern favorite Providence. The Friars traditionally boast a host of Irish national team imports, so this year McCurdy will try his "own home brew of Irish stew."