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"It's the best Harvard team ever."
One expects these kind of superlatives out of network announcers. But when senior Captain Meredith Rainey of the Harvard women's track team spoke of the Crimson's performance this past weekend at the Heptagonal Championships in Ithaca, N.Y., those who witnessed Harvard's triumph could only nod their heads in knowing agreement.
The Harvard women can look forward to an exciting outdoor season after beating all of its Ivy League competitors as well as Army and Navy in the Heps, the major event of the indoor season. The Crimson scored 101 points, comfortably ahead of second-place Brown's 89.
On the men's side, the results were not as successful. Eventual winner Dartmouth easily outdistanced the ninth-place Crimson, 105-29. Despite the men's squad's disappointing finish, Coach Frank Haggerty still chose to look at the positive experience of the weekend.
"The placing doesn't account for the way the team pulled together here at the meet," Haggerty said.
The women had numerous standout performances this weekend, but no star shone as brightly as Rainey's. The senior speedster placed first in three individual events, set a new Heps record in the 400-meter run and was selected the meet's most valuable performer.
Rainey placed first in her specialties, the 800-and 400-meter races, but was most pleased with her victory in the 55-meter dash. She also found enough energy to run a leg for the 4x800 relay team that placed second. Rainey certainly has played a large role in strengthening her claim that this Harvard women's squad is the best ever.
Harvard placed three women in the 5000-meter run, one of its biggest scoring events. Suzanne Jones finished second, Jody Dushay follwed in third and Rachel Lewis placed sixth. Dushay also placed second in the 3000-meter run.
As usual, sophomore Catherine Griffin did her fair share of anchoring the women's field domination, placing first in both the 20-Ib. weight and the shot put. Her toss of 53-ft., 2-in. in the weight eclipsed the personal best that she had set only three weeks earlier at the Greater Boston Championships. Megan Young leapt to second place in the high jump to meet the provisional NCAA standards.
All season the women's team triumphs have been characterized by emotional performances. One of this weekend's most inspiring performances was by the women's 4x400 relay team, which earned a dramatic come-from-behind fifth-place finish even after the baton had been dropped in an exchange.
"Even under adversity we responded positively," a beaming Haggerty said. "We delicately balanced the emotional and physical aspects of the sport."
While the mens' results were not as impressive as the women's, junior Captain John Mee, like Haggerty, said he believed the team was improving.
"Considering the injuries going into the meet we were still pleased with the outcome," Mee said. "It bodes well for the outdoor season and for next year."
Despite the overall squad's difficulties, the men's team was not without its own individual stars this weekend in the stiff Heps competition. Junior John Brzezenski's mammoth toss of 60-ft, 1-in in the 35-Ib. weight was good enough for third place and the provisional NCAA standards.
In the track events, senior distance runner Timothy Harte led the way with a stellar third-place finish in the 3000-meter run with a time of 8:25.38 in a field that included Yale All-American Jim Gibson.
After missing the bus to last week's meet at Princeton, sophomore Derrick Horner returned to register his usual outstanding performance by placing fourth in the long jump and finishing fifth in the 55-meter dash.
The men will be competing in the IC4A Championships next weekend at Harvard, their last opportunity to gain momentum before they go outdoors. Of course, the women should be anxious to continue their indoor success and continue their captain's bold claim in the outdoor season.
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