The heavyweight varsity seedings for Saturday's Eastern Sprint rowing championships are common knowledge now, and once again, the sounds of stifled rage are being heard in several boathouses along the Eastern seaboard.
As you might have guessed, Harvard nailed down the top position on the basis of its one-length victory over Navy and soggy Pennsylvania on the Schuylkill last Saturday. But it's about the only seeding anyone agrees upon, and even Crimson coach Harry Parker isn't particularly happy about the heat assignments as a whole.
Pennsylvania, which still has technically not been defeated in a 2,000-meter race, was seeded fourth, behind Navy and Northeastern, and neither Parker nor the Princeton varsity crew thinks that it is an accurate rating. "I'm definitely displeased with it," Parker says. "I'd have placed Penn no worse than second, and certainly not behind Northeastern."
Parker's concern stems not so much from fraternal sympathy for Quaker coach Ted Nash as from the fact that the seeding now puts Penn in the same heat with Harvard, not the most desirable morning rival. Were the Quakers seeded either second or third, Harvard's major trial heat opponent would have been Northeastern, with Princeton, Yale and Boston University added for savage amusement. Definitely a less worrisome group.
Surprisingly, Penn oarsmen seemed the least upset about their draw. "I really don't think we can be seeded any higher than third on the basis of what we've done so far," says bowman Curtis Kaufmann. "Most of the guys really aren't that interested in the seedings, anyway. As long as we finish in the first two in our heat, we've accomplished all that matters in the morning trials. So, Harvard or not, if we can beat out the other three boats, we're in the finals."
The assignments were perhaps most unfair to Princeton, which now faces the most difficult task of any crew of its caliber. The Tigers, who had the unfortunate fate of racing four of the top six seeds in their first four races, were buried in ninth position. Had they been placed either eighth or tenth, they would have had a fighting chance of qualifying for the finals. Now, pitted against a Harvard eight that walloped them by four and a half lengths and a Penn boat that will take any measures necessary to place above third in their heat, Princeton appears doomed.
A Wave, A Crab, A Slip
The major inequity has been the seeding of Northeastern. Though the Huskies are unbeaten, their competition has not been the most terrorinspiring. They were losing to MIT with 100 meters to go when the Engineers' seven-man jumped his slide and lost control of his oar, an accident that cost his crew the race. Two weeks ago, Brown was passing Northeastern during the final 500 meters when a wave from a passing launch shook the Bruin shell, causing a partial crab that allowed Northeastern to slip away to a half length victory.
Apparently neither the quality of the Huskies' opponents--only one is seeded--nor the circumstances surrounding their victories have been taken into consideration by the EARC seeding committee in New York, and the result is an obvious imbalance in the heats.
Instead of being required to race Harvard or Navy in the morning, the Huskies will meet MIT, Brown, Rutgers and Columbia. Not the toughest heat, but Northeastern may still have trouble making the finals. Navy, seeded second, has taken its lot manfully, as one would expect. "The people in New York do the best job they can," says coach Carl Ullrich. "Those coaches that feel they're being victimized should stand up and take it like a man."
Navy, an unbeaten eight until last weekend, will compete against fifth-seeded Cornell, whom it narrowly defeated two weeks ago, Syracuse, Dartmouth and Wisconsin. Again, not a very heavy bunch.
Actually, barring major equipment failures or paralytic collapses, only Northeastern's heat should be close. Harvard and Penn should place 1-2 in Heat 1, and Navy and Cornell are sure bets in the second group. The only battle should be among MIT, seeded sixth, Northeastern, and seventh-ranked Brown. The finals should be one of the best since 1962, when Penn and Yale finished in a dead heat for first.