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Despite many injuries and several unexpected vacancies in this year's lineup, the women's cross country squad opened its season with a 20-37 victory over the University of Massachusetts yesterday at Franklin Park.
The Crimson harriers showed both depth and strength as their top five finishers crossed the line within 59 seconds of one another.
Freshman standout Darlene Beckford, a local star from Cambridge Latin High School who recently won the 1500 meter Junior Championships, captured first place with a time of 17:42 while sophomore Paula Newnham trailed just seconds behind at 17:47. Coach Hunt looks for both Beckford and Newnham, holder of last year's Ivy championship and the meet record, to better the course record of 17:17 by the end of this year's season.
Johanna Foreman, who missed the entire season last year as the result of strained tendons, made her debut today taking fourth place at 18:09.
Beckford, Newnham, and Foreman jumped out to an early lead and stayed together throughout the first two miles of the three and one-half mile trek.
Massachusetts' front runner Judy McCrone was the only serious threat to the harriers, nosing out Foreman for third at the finish, clocking in at 17:50.
Coach Hunt said he was most pleasantly surprised by the times of the second wave of Harvard runners: sophomores Anita Diaz, Kristen Linsley, junior Dianne Jacobson, and freshman Leslie Voit. These four runners lack experience and should improve as the season progresses, especially Jacobson who ran her best time ever, Hunt said.
Diaz and Linsley compensated for the loss of Kat Taylor who hopes to return soon after a season's absence. With the return of Taylor and Joan Corsiglia, who is also out with an injury, the thinclads have a good chance to finish in the top three of the Easterns, thereby qualifying for the November Nationals.
Next Tuesday the harriers travel to Rhode Island in an attempt to garner their second victory.
Harvard 20, University of Mass. 37 at Franklin Park, Mass.
1. D. Beckford (H) 17:42; 2. P. Newnham (H) 17:47; 3. J. McCrone (UMass) 17:50; 4. J. Foreman (H) 18:09; 5. K. Petrick (Umass) 18:30; 6. A. Diaz (H) 18:39; 7. K. Linsley (H) 18:41
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