Watch out folks, the Bounding One, the Bod, the Limey, the Mighty Mite, the Sweet Kraut, the Duck, the Stoneham Scrapper, the Heartbreak Kid, Vaya Con and Smiley are on the run.
Although this gang sounds like it belongs on a super heroes cartoon, it actually represents the line-up of this season's women's cross country squad, according to coach Robert "Pappy" Hunt, who is partial to nicknames and dubs each runner appropriately.
The "Bounding One" refers to last year's freshman sensation and this year's sophomore wonder Darlene Beckford. "Darlene bounds along so graceful that it makes you want to cry", Hunt said last week.
A Cambridge native, Beckford led the Crimson to a third place finish at the Easterns last year with an eighth place individual performance. An illness prevented Beckford from running in top condition at the NCAAs two weeks later, but as she now points out, "All I can really do this year is improve."
Although Beckford prefers shorter distances such as the 1500 and 800 meter events--in which she ranks among the best in the world--she has the talent to become an excellent harrier.
Beckford only started training a few weeks ago but said she feels more relaxed heading into this year's competition and adds, "I think I'll have a better season than last year."
The "Bod", better known as junior Kris Linsley, received her name because "you ought to see the kid in a bathing suit," Hunt said. A strong distance runner ,Linsley has developed from an average high school harrier to the Crimson's number two varsity runner.
Another possible occupant of the second spot on the team is "Limey" Paula Newnham. A world class runner, Newnham has had to battle with hepatitis and achilles tendon problems in her first two cross country seasons at Harvard.
A British citizen, Newnham left school last spring semester to compete for a spot on her country's Olympic team which she just missed making. Hunt was unsure whether she would return this fall but "if Paula does come back this year and is in shape we could have as good a team as anything in the East," Hunt says.
To help fill out the squad, the "Mighty mite" aka Wiley McCarthy from Decatur, Georgia, will back back in a Crimson uniform. At 4-ft., 10-in., McCarthy has both endurance and speed which allows her to clock a two-mile race outdoors in under 11 minutes.
The "Sweet (as opposed to sour) Kraut," the "Duck" and "Vaya Con" are Hunt's code names for Gretchen Klapfor, Leslie Voit and Anita Diaz, respectively. All three runners suffered injuries last year but Hunt says they have great potential to boost this year's squad. (In case you didn't figure it out, Diaz' nickname dervies from the Spanish saying "Vaya con Dios", which means "go with God." Hunt says, "If she ever becomes captain, I can tell the whole team, 'Vaya con Diaz' and they'll have a great leader.")
Ellen "the Heartbreak kid" Gallagher has been running all summer and should be in good shape as should Martha "the Stoneham Scrapper" Clabby and Becky "Smiley" Rogers.
Both half-milers, Clabby and Rogers could do big things in cross country if they can convince themselves that they are long-distance runners, Hunt says.
These nine runners will spend ten days at a cross country camp in Groton where they will put in about 20 miles a day. Upon returning to Cambridge Hunt will see what the new crop of freshmen can add to his squad.
"Many of the incoming harriers look good on paper but you don't really know what's out there," Hunt says. Cautiously noting freshman Linda Yeager from Dayton, Ohio, who clocked a 4:58 mile as a junior in high school, and Kris Russell, who captured the Connecticut state cross country title last year, as two of the strongest runners. Also, Chelmsford's Pat French and Miami's Eva Anderson could help the Crimson in a league that gets tougher each year.
In the past, Harvard and Princeton have dominated women's cross country but "now all the Ivies have national level individuals and there's no such thing as a breather on the schedule," Hunt says.
Princeton's 1979 Eastern champ Lynn Jennings and Brown's Anne Sullivan will provide Beckford with more than enough competition, while Yale and Penn both have new coaches who are building outstanding teams.
Overall, if the Crimson squad can stay healthy, it should be able to handle all challengers and make quite a nickname for itself.