Head women's track Coach Pappy Hunt has an uncanny way of cutting right to the heart of a matter. "I tell you, "he said this week, "a track is a track--its very simple. It's like a rose is a rose is a rose."
Ah, if only things were as simple as that. Unfortunately, however, there is a rather large difference between certain tracks--most notably between indoor and outdoor tracks--and Harvard's recent lack of one (the stadium track is unenterable without a hardhat) for the women's team to practice on could affect its performance in today's season-opening Ivy. League Championships at Dartmouth.
"One of the biggest differences between the indoor and outdoor seasons is that you have to contend with the elements," says senior co-Captain Kim Johnson. On top of the elements, there is also the larger track, longer sprints and hurdles, additional distance events, and the different passing zones for batons in the relays that the competitors have to adjust to.
The thinclads are not complete newcomers to the outdoor track, through. Over spring break, 21 members of the team travelled to South Carolina's Clemson University where they trained twice a day on an all-weather track, and late this week they had brief outdoor workouts on the MIT track. But this experience may not be nearly enough for a team that is opening its already short season today with the Ivy League Championships, and which will be closing in three weeks after the Eastern AIAW's.
Workouts not withstanding, the squad is hopeful as it travels to Hanover to do battle with the other Ivy luminaries. The situation facing the team is identical to the one it encountered two months ago at the Ivy Indoor Championships: Princeton looks big, strong and eager defend its title.
"Darna it, I have Princeton, "Hunt laughs, "but I tell you--we're going to run like hell to beat them."
Once again, Harvard's biggest deficiency is in the shorter runs and hurdles. Freshman Mariquita "Skeets" Patterson--who set Harvard's indoor hurdles and Pentathalon record last winter--will confine her various talents to the Heptathalon today, leaving Sigrid "Ziggy" Gabler to run in the 400-meter hurdles, and Lenny Yajima to contend in the long jump. There will be no one representing the Crimson in the 100-meter hurdles.
One thing has not changed from the indoor season, and that is that the Crimson is still awesome in the field and distance events. Johnson will take the shotput easily, and freshman Kathy Durante--who was last year's state champion in the discus--will unleash her talents with probable success in that event.
From the 800-meter run up, Harvard looks unbeatable. Senior co-Captain and All-American Mary Herlihy will run the 800, junior phenom Darlene Beckford should breeze to victory in the 3000, and Canadian freshman Kate Wiley will run in the grueling 10,000-meter (6.2 miles) event.
One of the most exciting showdowns of the day will probably occur in the 1500, when Harvard's Jenny Stricker mets Cornell's petite Dorian Lambelet-McClive. At the indoor championship Lamblet-McClive outleaned Stricker to win the contest by one-tenth of a second, and she went on last month to become the national champion in the event.
THE NOTEBOOK: When the team was at Clemson, the reservations at the Clemson House expired early, and school officials had to scramble to find Harvard new lodgings. The thinclads ultimately wound up in the penthouse of Clemson House at no extra cost, where they enjoyed cushy accommodations including wall-to-wall carpeting, a sundeck, grand pianos, a kitchen, a TV room and luxurious touches.