When captain Thad McNulty described yesterday's cross-country meet against Penn and Columbia as "a disaster" he certainly wasn't exaggerating.
New York's rugged Van Cortlandt Park once again took its toll on the Crimson thinclads as they suffered two of their most lopsided defeats in recent history, dropping 16-41 to the Quakers and by a disgusting similar 17-42 margin to Columbia.
The first red-shirted harrier to cross the finish-line was John Murphy, and even he did not show up until eighth place, with a time of 26:18, thirty seconds behind pacesetter Sam Weller from Penn.
The Crimson, running their third race in six days, set the pace early and were in good position going into the back hills at about 1 1/2 miles. Coach Bill McCurdy's tactics involved trying to press for the first mile and staking out some territory before hitting the grueling back loop.
Everything was going according to plan, with Murphy and Adam Dixon showing the way and the rest of the Herd following not far from the front, as they came over a slight rise and crossed over the bridge that led into the hilly second mile, disappearing from sight.
"We were in real good position and I was feeling pretty good about the race when they went into that loop," McCurdy said immediately after the meet. "The only problem was that when the runners started emerging from the forest I didn't see any big H's for quite awhile. I no longer felt quite so confident," he added.
During that difficult half-mile the race got completely out of hand, with the Harvard contingent dropping way back, and right out of competition; Dixon dropped out of the race literally with a sprained ankle. From that point on it was reduced to a two-team battle between Penn and Columbia.
McCurdy attributed the poor Crimson showing to the team's lack of experience and the presence of many short-distance-oriented runners who have yet to adjust to the rigors of competitive cross-country racing.
However, McNulty cited other reasons. "We are just beat up," he said. "It was our third meet in six days and we are just dead. We simply weren't ourselves."
The Crimson--now 2-3--will get a much-needed rest this week, as they do not compete until next Saturday when they host Brown at Franklin Park. McCurdy has warned that he's "going back to Nova Scotia" if the thinclads do not top the Bruins, although whether from embarrassment or disappointment is not clear.
Looking at the bright side of things, the Crimson does not have to return to Van Cortlandt again this year. McNulty, a senior who has barely survived his excursions there said, "I'm sure glad I'll never see that course again!"