Harvard's number one cross-country runner Buck Logan doesn't want to say how he expects to do today at the Heptagonal Championships on New York's Van Cortlandt course because he's superstitious.
Perhaps Logan's worried about racing up the ominous Cemetery Hill on Halloween and that's why the black cat got his tongue. Or maybe, the two year old nightmare of Thad McNulty collapsing 200 yards from the finish line, spoiling Harvard's chance for the crown, still casts a dark shadow over the race.
The magical quality surrounding the Heps is not always foreboding--last year, Harvard's John Murphy secretly made plans that he would capture the individual crown and did just that.
But given the Heps history of unpredictable finishes and non-finishes, Logan's superstition makes sense.
Crimson coach Bill McCurdy also refrained from predicting how the team will finish although he did say, "I'm a little excited about what some of the guys might do. The future isn't so downcast--we may finish a lot higher than we are figuring we could."
With a 5-5 record, the Crimson harriers are not exactly favorites although they cannot be discounted as a dark horse team.
"It's not inconceivable that we could win," captain Murphy said yesterday. "All you need is three top finishers and Buck's one of the best runners around, Eric Schuler won the 3000 meters at the indoor Heps and Adam Dixon has more talent than anyone in the field."
Still recuperating from the strain that finishing in eighth place at the Big Three Meet placed on his aching achilles tendon, Murphy will not be able to defend his Hep championship.
Of the nine Harvard entries, only four have raced at the Heps before--a clear reflection of the youth of the team.
Logan, who finished 20th last year, Schuler, Bruce Weber, and senior Peter Johnson all return to the treacherous five mile course while Dixon, Jacobs, Andy Regan and freshmen Paul McNulty and Felix Rippy get their first shot at the Heps.
Schuler, who finished second earlier this year in the dual meet against Columbia on the Van Cortlandt course, seems to have recovered from various colds and injuries. He "had a great work out yesterday and is capable of running brilliantly," McCurdy said.
Freshman Rippy could also come on strong since he has proven that he runs well under pressure.
Going into the race, the favorites are Navy and Princeton, with last year's winners, the Columbia Lions, following close behind. But it's impossible to predict which team will pull the trick to get the treat.