This fall is the beginning of a new era in Harvard track. For the first time in the program's history, the men's and women's squads will be combined under one coach. The women's assistant coach, John Babington, is gone. And for the first time in more than three decades, Bill McCurdy will not be heading the men's cross country team.
Not everyone has left the scene, though Frank Haggerty, last year's men's assistant coach, will take over as the director of cross country and track. He will have to guide both the men's and women's squads, but he won't be alone: Dennis Sykes, an assistant athletic director, will coach the women's cross country team; Pappy Hunt, the former women's track coach, will act as women's coordinator; Ed Stowell will supervise pole vaulting and act as weight coach; and Walter Johnson will serve as the new jumping coach.
A new Ivy policy dictating that all men's and women's meets will be run on the same day and at the same site has made it possible for the squads to share the coaches. However, because the cross country schedules include many non-league meets, a special women's coach had to be added to the Harvard roster.
The women harriers should fare very well this fall. Although the loss of Kristin Linsley to graduation and the absence of Darlene Beckford, who is taking the semester off, will hurt, the rest of last year's squad is back and healthy. Sophomore sensations Jenny Stricker and Kate Wiley are both in good shape and should continue to dominate their opponents. Other returning standouts are Grace Defries, Lucy Ashby, Ellen Gallagher, Mary Jean Barret, Kathy Good, and Wiley McCarthy.
The Crimson's toughest competition should come from Princeton, but Haggerty feels that an Ivy championship is very attainable. As he enthusiastically put it, "the women should go all the way."
Haggerty has the same goal for the men. "If a team doesn't go into a season hoping to win the league championship, then they shouldn't go into the season at all," he explains. But a victory in the Heps (the league championship) will prove to be a very difficult feat indeed.
Distance specialists Bruce Weber and Andy Gerken are both taking leaves of absence for the year, and Adam Dixon does not become eligible to run until second semester. Last year's freshman superstar Cliff Sheehan has been able to do only limited running because of a stress fracture and muscle problems discovered over the summer.
Despite those missing in action, the outlook for the team is not entirely bleak. Captain Andy Regan is in good condition and Peter Jelley, who was injured for much of last season, is in good condition. The biggest boost for the squad may be the return of Buck Logan. Sidelined last year after an operation on his heel, the senior distance specialist has finally recovered and is running in the form that makes him co-owner of the Harvard indoor two-mile record.
If the men's squad is going to realize Haggerty's goal of a league championship, it will have to defeat the likes of Dartmouth, Yale, and last year's Heps' champion Princeton.
No matter how the squads fare, the fall should be an exciting one, as Harvard's track program begins the year on a different foot.