Cross-country running,

Cross-country running, a popular intramural diversion at Princeton as early as 1880 when the Hare and Hounds Club was founded, began auspiciously as a varsity sport in 1899 with John Cregan 1899 winning the first intercollegiate championship meet ever held.

Fitting sequels to Cregan's notable achievement came in 1914, when Donald Morrison '15 finished second in the IC4A Championships, and again after the First World War, when Princeton teams placed second in the Intercollegiates in 1919, 1920, and 1921, and won the first triangular meet with Harvard and Yale in 1922.

In the thirties, Bill Bonthron '34 excelled, going undefeated his freshman, sophomore, and junior years. He and his classmate Charles M. Reed finished arm-in-arm in a first place tie in every dual meet their sophomore year. The 1937 team was undefeated and won the Big Three meet, in which its captain Frederic Rosengarten '38 placed first.

After the interruption of World War II, Princeton cross-country reached a high point when the 1949 team went undefeated in dual meet competition, took the Big Three championship, and placed second in the Heptagonal cross-country championship meet.* That year's captain, Stan Johnson '50, won the triangular meet with Harvard and Yale for the third time in his varsity career. In the 1950s six Princeton harriers came in first in Big Three meets: Dick Snedeker '51 (1950), Al Pittis 52 (1951), Toby Maxwell '53 (1952), Jack Vodrey '57 (1954), Rod Zwirner '59 (1956), and Mike Kingston '62 (1959). Maxwell (who placed first in every dual meet his senior year) and Vodrey were second in the Heptagonals. Most successful of all was Zwirner, who as a sophomore won every dual meet and was also individual champion in the Heptagonals.

The University's thinclads, as the Prince has sometimes called them, were strong contenders in dual competition and in the various championship meets throughout the 1960s and the early 1970s. Seven years after Princeton's second-place finish in the 1968 Heptagonals, the 1975 team captured Princeton's first championship, an example followed by the 1976 and 1977 teams, who produced Princeton's second and third Heptagonal championships. The 1975 championship team, one of the best in Princeton's history, also placed first in the Big Three meet, second in the Intercollegiates, and fifteenth in the National Championships. Captain Larry Tractenberg '76 tied for first place with his teammate Craig Masback '77 in the Big Three meet, and finished third in both the Heptagonals and the Intercollegiates.

In the early years, cross-country was under the supervision of special coaches, but since the 1930s it has been the responsibility of track coaches Mattie Geis, 1932-1956; Peter Morgan, 1956-1970; and Larry Ellis, since 1970.

A women's cross-country team organized in 1976 placed fourth in the first Ivy League women's championship meet in November of the same year.

*The seven teams constituting the heptagon in 1939 when the meet was first organized eventually grew to ten (the eight Ivy League teams plus Army and Navy).


From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978).

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