Harvard Lights Begin Quest To Reclaim Title From Penn

May 15.

Circle the date. That's the day of the Eastern Sprints down at Princeton, and the lightweight crew's chance to get even with Penn.

At last year's sprints, Penn in one stroke ruined a perfect season and ended Harvard's three-year domination of Eastern rowing, which had included two consecutive sprint titles.

Not that there are any personal vendettas, with captain Jeff Parker being the only returning veteran. But things don't change all that quickly in the world of rowing. Harvard and Penn promise to be the class of the Eastern lights again.

"It's not quite as fluky as hockey or football where a long pass can change things," lightweight coach John Higginson said last week. "There's no reason why they [Penn] won't be difficult, our equal--even better--on any given day."

So it seems that a win on May 15 will be necessary to put the Crimson back on top of the heap and right now it could go either way.

With most of the group that Higginson had for the last three seasons graduated, things could be looking bad. But it's not worth getting ulcers over Harvard crew.

The core of this year's crew will consist of members of last season's undefeated (of course) junior varsity squad. Parker will anchor the boat from the sixth position and John Harting, this year's pleasant surprise who came back after a year away from the boathouse, has moved into the stroke's seat.

The remainder of the boat is John Pickering (bow, Jr.), Jeff Cooley (2, So.), John Crocker (3, Sr.), Phil Lowry (4, Sr.), Bill Chapman (5, Sr.), Jon Adams (7, Sr.), and Mark Howe (cix, Sr.).

Higginson said that he's not worried about the ability of this year's boat--only about "putting them together properly." The varsity eight have been together less than a week so they are still a bit rusty. But the schedule has been kind, blessing the Crimson with Columbia today. The only thing in doubt about this race is the margin of victory over the 2000-meter course.

It's "barely more than a practice race every year," Higginson said. The aim is to beat the Lions by as much as possible and then compare margins with Princeton. Last year on the Harlem River a rock thrown from the shore put a Crimson rower out of commission just before the race, but even that could not alter Columbia's fortunes.

Dartmouth and MIT should be more of a match next weekend on the Charles, and as the Crimson reaches its peak at the end of April it will face tough challenges on consecutive weekends from Navy and Princeton.

And if all goes well the lights should carry an undefeated record into that big showdown in mid-May.