In a sport where any race before the Eastern Sprints in mid-May is considered early in the season, it may be an exaggeration to call this morning's varsity heavyweight contest on the Charles between Harvard, Penn, and Navy the Clash of the Titans.
But the three Eastern powerhouses--with only a single loss between them--together with Yale have dominated the first half of the rowing season. The 50th annual meeting of the three schools for the Adams Cup figures to be a stroke-for-stroke battle.
The Crimson varsity enters its first home race with a perfect 3-0 mark, having rowed by Brown two weeks ago in Providence and turned the same trick against Princeton and MIT last Saturday in New Jersey.
But in their quest to take home the Adams Cup for the first time in three years, the oarsmen face what is likely to be its toughest race to date.
Navy--which has taken home the trophy each of the past two years--is also 3-0, including a strong win over the same Tiger squad that Harvard defeated last week.
Penn also beat up on the Tigers, following up its convincing win in the San Diego Crew Classic. And even though the Quakers were narrowly upset by Yale last Saturday, they remain a strong contender in this morning's race.
After Harvard's victory over Brown two weeks ago, Coach Harry Parker made a few changes in his varsity boat, but this week he intends to stick with the same line-up that triumphed at Princeton.
Dan Grout will stroke his second varsity race for the Crimson, Andrew Hawley will be at seven, Curt Pieckenhagen at six, Rich Kennely at five, Steve Wayne at four, and Tom Mills at three. The bow pair will be Mark Schoeffel at two and Neil Oleson at bow while Devin Mahoney will cox.
While their heavier counterparts race on the Charles, the lightweights are off to Lake Carnegie in Princeton, N.J., for a crucial contest with the Tigers and Yale in the 61st annual charge for the Goldwaith Cup.
The race among the "Big Three" of lightweight crew promises the first close competition for Harvard--something Dartmouth, MIT, and Navy failed to provide a week ago.
The Crimson's strongest challenges figure to come from an undefeated Yale squad and from a Princeton boat that was last year's national champion.
With only a single member of last year's varsity boat--Chris Wendland at three--remaining this season for the Crimson, Harvard's inexperience might appear to be a disadvantage, but in fact, it's the maturation of proven talent at the lower levels of the Harvard program that gives hope to a team that hasn't won the race since 1980.
This year's 155's have benefited from an influx of oarsmen from last year's junior varsity and freshman Eastern Sprints champions.
The Crimson's competition hasn't looked invincible; Princeton lost two weeks ago for the first time since 1984 to a surprisingly strong Rutgers crew by a .01 second margin.
Meanwhile, Yale last weekend edged out the Tiger-killers from Rutgers, and at 4-0, is the pre-race favorite.
The single line-up change for Harvard is at coxswain, where Marty Katz will replace Ogan Gurel. Sophomore Tom Patterson remains at stroke, and is backed by Kevin Bedell at seven, Larry Meyer at six, Jim Himes at five, Dave Berger at four, Wendland at three, Captain Trip Switzer at two, and Duncan Robbins in the bow seat.