Former hurdler Kim Stephens traveled all the way from Little Rock, Ark., to Harvard's newly dedicated McCurdy Track to see the Crimson men's track team win the Heptagonal Championships over the weekend.
Stephens, who graduated last year, saw the Crimson place only fourth, with 78 points, behind Cornell (112), Dartmouth (99), and Yale (83). Without him in the stands, though, Harvard's finish would have been much worse.
Thanks to Stephen's videotape of the 400-meter hurdles, senior Co-Captain Steve Ezeji-Okoye's controversial record-breaking performance was not disqualified.
But the overturning of the disqualification was one of the few breaks that went Harvard's way yesterday afternoon.
Cornell was as unbeatable in the field event, as Dartmouth was overwhelming in the distance races. The Big Green's Jim Sapienza led a Dartmouth sweep of the first five places in the 10,000, while teammate Mike Fadil cruised to victory in the steeplechase.
In the first event of the day, the 4x100 relay, Harvard senior Mark Henry pulled a hamstring as he anchored the victorious baton-passing squad.
The versatile Henry was forced to withdraw from the high jump, triple jump, and 100 and 200 meter finals--and the Crimson sorely missed him.
Harvard was also hurt by the scheduling of the events. Many of the Crimson thinclads who competed in multiple events had little time to catch their breath.
Senior Cliff Sheehan, winner of the indoor Heps outstanding performer award, burst out of the pack in the 1500 to overtake O'Neal down the stetch, while Co-Captain John Perkins claimed the third spot.
But that victory took its tool as an hour later, as Sheehan failed to place in the 800.
Senior Jim Herberich set a new school record when he took second in the 200 behind' Princeton's sprinter Steve Morgan, winner of the meet's outstanding performer award.
But Herberich was also a victim of scheduling on Saturday, when the 200 and 400 semifinals were run back to back. Herberich one of the most talented quarter-milers in the league, failed to qualify in the 400.
He did get a chance to run a 400 in the mile relay. The Crimson squad of Dan LaVigne, Tom Quinn, Ezeji-Okoye, and Herberich placed behind Princeton, but did set a new Harvard record.
The most dramatic record-smashing of the day was done by Ezaji-Okoye in the 400-meter hurdles. After finishing second to Penn hurdler Randy Cox in the 110 hurdles, the Harvard co-captain was determined to even the score in the longer hurdling event.
He finished a few yards ahead of Cox, setting a new Heptathalon and Harvard record an addition to qualifying for nationals.
"I've wanted to go to nationals for four years," Ezeji-Okoye said.
However, one of the judges almost canceled the trip, when he ruled that Ezeji-Okoye's foot had not cleared the plane of the hurdle. He was disqualified, and not reinstated until Bill Okerman, a member of the appeals committee, viewed Stephen's videotape and reversed the ruling.
"It was what you'd call being in the right place at the right time," Stephens said.
THE NOTEBOOK: At last year's Heps Kim Stephens finished third behind Navy's Greg Blanchard and Cox...McCurdy presented the outstanding performer and and team championship awards...The last Heptagonals held at Harvard were the indoor Championships in the winter of 1981.