For the Harvard men's and women's indoor track teams, meeting the Northeastern Huskies is a yearly thing. It has been for more than a decade.
But the fact that the competition will take place again next year does not in any way lessen either college's will to win. As Huskies coach Mark Lech lamented, "This meet seems to come down to the relays [the last event] every single year, and I always seem to lose at least five pounds here each year."
The Crimson was motivated for this year's meet since the women were thrashed by the Huskies last year, 69-44, and the men barely squeaked by with an 80-52 win.
But the plans for revenge did not quite work out for Harvard men last week at the Gordon Indoor Track facility, as the Crimson lost 74-65. On the other side, the women held up their end, winning 60-53.
Last week's meet raised the women's season score to 2-0 for the year, while the men fell to 1-1. Both teams had won their first meet against Boston College, also at home, in early December. The men had a wide margin at 80-52, while the women scored an upset victory of 63-55.
Going into this year's Northeastern meet, Harvard coach Frank Haggerty was pleased with the ways practices were running, although both teams were afflicted with several injuries. Also trouble-some was the fact that this was Northeastern's first meet of the indoor track season, and therefore no scouting reports on the condition of their team were available.
The Crimson fielded a large number of freshmen on both teams, but especially on the men's side, where the all-important one-mile relay was run by three freshmen and one senior. Harvard lost both relays this year, although capturing first, second and third place in the 3000-meter run meant that the women had the victory without the relay.
"We always hate to lose", said Haggerty, "but I don't worry about times or speeds. I told them to be competitive, and they were, so they have nothing to hang their heads about." Haggerty added that, with the current trend in track and field going away from dual meets, the Northeastern-Harvard meet was one of the few meets left that were truly competitive.
The Crimson teams this year are co-captained by seniors Rita Raju and Cathy Griffin (whom Haggerty describes as the "most dominant thrower this league has ever seen") on the women's side, and Nick Sweeney and John Oakes on the men's. Sweeney, who is the Irish national record holder for the discus throw, is currently on leave of absence, but is expected to return in February.
Sweeney also hopes to qualify for the 1992 Olympics, on behalf of the Irish national team. The Crimson track teams also have at least three alumni who are in the process of training for the '92 Olympics: Meredith Rainey, last year's NCAA track championship 800-meter winner, and Paul Gompers and Brian Cann, both marathon runners.
The next meet for the Crimson takes place in early February, when Harvard travels to Boston University for the Greater Boston Championships.
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