It was summer like most other summers for Crimson sports: slow. The 60 Boylston St. information office, which usually churns out press releases by the dozen during the year, went for weeks without producing a single page. But despite the relative paucity of news a few things worth relating did happen.
Take the heavyweight crews, for example. Minor things like Commencement do not deter Harvard's rowers from calling it quits, not after all the inertia built up over the course of the year. Men's heavy coach Harry Parker used to forbid senior oarsmen from accepting their diplomas in Cambridge; instead, he would personally hand them out at the team's training camp in Connecticut where the crew would be preparing for the all-important Harvard-Yale regatta.
Well, times have changed some, and Harry reportedly allows his seniors to return to Cambridge to receive their degrees. But some things never change. And a few days after Commencement in June, the undefeated heavy oarsmen topped the Bulldogs and copped the Sexton Cup for the 19th straight time.
The Crimson shattered the downstream mark by 59 seconds over the grueling four-mile course and gained the unofficial national championship. Harvard stormed the finish line in 18:22.4 while Yale pulled in at 18:30.8 in the 115th renewal of the oldest intercollegiate sporting event on the Thames in New London, Conn. Parker Promptly took off for Europe to coach the U.S. National squad.
While the men's heavies were capping off a most successful season, the heavyweight oarswomen traveled to Oakridge, Tenn., to compete in the national championships without coach Carie Graves, who was training with the U.S. Olympic squad that toured Europe this summer.
The Radcliffe crew managed fourths in the elite eights contest and the collegiate division, and a fifth in the senior eights race, reaffirming their position as one of the country's top boats. In the senior eights, the race began before the Radcliffe shell was ready, costing the disappointed crew valuable time, but an official protest was denied.
The oarswomen had to compete in the elite eights and the senior eights within an hour and a half at the end of an arduous week. The Radcliffe lights also participated, achieving mixed results. But the rowers reported from the Holiday Inn in Oakridge that all were having a good time, in the best crew tradition.
What better time than the summer for swimming? Men's swim team captain Bobby Hackett placed in all four of his events in the Seventeen Swim Meet of Champions in Mission Viejo, Calif., with third-place finishes in the 1500- and 800-meter races. Other Crimson swimmers, including incoming freshmen Mike Miao, a freestyler, and Greg Eckstrom,a butterflyer and backstroker, also produced strong results. And aquaman mentor Joe Bernal coached the AAU national team that toured China in August.
Former Crimson baseball stars had good summers in the minor leagues. Rob Alevizos (7-0, ERA below 2.00 last season) was drafted by the Cubs, and was assigned to the Geneva, N Y., farm club in the Class A New York-Penn league. Mike Stenhouse'80 and Larry Brown '79 performed well in the Class A Florida State league, Sten with the Expos' organization and Brownie pitching with the Astros.'
At the U.S. "Olympic" track and field trials in Eugene, Ore., a couple of Crimson tracksters emeritus posted impressive results. Tom Lenz wound up 11th in the hammer throw, and Ellen Hart secured a place for herself on the Olympic squad by finishing third in the 10,000 meters in spectacular fashion--an accomplishment all the more remarkable considering that she had suffered a debilitating injury earlier in the season.
No one can say the 1979-80 Harvard men's basketball team did not come--and go-- a long way. The Crimson cagers traveled to the People's Republic of China in late June, playing six games on a two-week tour. While the hoopsters won only two of six matches, they acquitted themselves well against a formidable string of opponents--including the PRC's national team, which the Crimson stayed close to until a late first-half splurge by the Chinese.
Coach Frank McLaughlin, who hopes some of the experience will spill over to help next year's squad, expresses the opinion of the entire entourage when he says the trip was memorable for the basketball but above all for the cultural experience. "Let's just say that the only thing that went wrong was that the airline showed the same movie on the flight home as it did on the flight going over there," he adds.
In the granddaddy of rowing competitions, the Henley regatta on the Thames River in England, the Eliot House crew took part and didn't win the Challenge Cup.Instead, the U.S. Olympic shell--coached by Harry Parker, who else?--triumphed over the New Zealand Olympic squad in the final. In the lightweight division, Harvard's Eastern sprints champion boat fell in the semifinals to Witwatersrand of South Africa.
In the annual award derby, senior standouts Mike Desaulniers and Pete Predun shared the 27th Bingham Award given to the top male athlete in the graduating class. Desaulniers capped off an undefeated career by captaining the men's squash team to the Ivy and national nine-man championship and collecting the individual crown. Predun was a first team all-Ivy pick in his last two years on the men's lacrosse squad, and wound up as an all American and the second leading scorer in Harvard lacrosse history.
And in an administrative move announced in mid-August, 60 Boylston St. appointed Patricia Miller and Jim Stoeckel '73 to the position of assistant directors of athletics. Miller, who helped organize the Lake Placid Winter Olympics, becomes the University's official representative to the AIAW and other women's athletic organizations. Stoeckel, a former all-Ivy quarterback and all-Eastern shortstop, will continue in the capacity he held last year as liaison between the admissions office and the athletic department, as well as assuming extra responsibilities. He is also assistant coach of the Crimson baseball squad.
Miller and Stoeckel will deal with two vital areas of concern, women's sports and recruitment of qualified athletes. They should give the department some needed assistance in dealing with these difficult and often blurry issues.
The football team, 3-6 last year, returned to Cambridge to begin training August 28 as the dog days of summer faded into the red dog days of autumn.