Harvard Lightweights Capture Bronze at IRAs, Heavies Place Fourth
After a year in which the Harvard men’s lightweight crew tasted perfection, the Crimson simply ran into a team hitting its stride in the postseason.
Following a 10-0 dual season campaign, Harvard concluded its year with a bronze medal at the IRA National Championships this past weekend, just three weeks after falling to Princeton at Eastern Sprints. The Tigers, who couldn’t keep pace with the Crimson in the final dual meet of the season, capped the year with gold, while the Navy Midshipmen separated the two crews with a second-place showing in Saturday’s Grand Final.
But by no means did Harvard disappoint in its final race of the season. The first three quarters of the race were neck-and-neck, with Princeton taking a slim lead at 750 meters before the Crimson inched ahead just after the 1,000-meter mark. The Tigers surged ahead down the stretch, though, and Navy also found its way past the Crimson. Less than two seconds separated all three of the top boats, as Princeton set an event record in 5:36.065.
For Harvard, the bronze-medal finish represented a repeat of last year’s effort at IRA’s—the third time the Crimson has medaled at the event in four seasons.
Three weeks ago, the Harvard heavyweight crew proved that it was the team to beat in the East. Unfortunately for the Crimson, IRA’s brought a slew of talented competitors from the opposite coast.
The Harvard varsity eight followed up its championship at Sprints by placing fourth at IRA’s on Saturday, conceding to west-coast powers Cal and Washington as well as Cornell.
“Obviously we wanted to do as well as we could,” varsity two-seat Anthony Locke said. “We were excited to race against some of the west-coast schools, which are very strong traditionally.”
The Huskies’ victory in the second varsity eight race propelled the crew to a team title, with 193 points in the Ten Eyck Trophy team-scoring formula.
The second varsity eight race also brought good results for the Crimson, as Harvard’s boat posted a third-place finish to secure fourth in the team standings with a score of 165—just two points behind the Big Red.
A strong start put Washington and the Crimson in the lead early in the 1V contest, but the Golden Bears quickly asserted themselves, pulling ahead in the second 250. Cal and the Huskies eventually separated from the rest of the competition in the third 500, with the Golden Bears’ final time of 5:23.897 missing a course record by just one-fifth of a second. Harvard crossed the line 7.2 seconds behind Cornell in a time of 5:31.106.
“We were a little disappointed with the final race,” Locke said. “We had a good first half, but the second half was not as good as we had hoped for.”
The 2V Grand Final also featured a pair of crews that left competition in the dust, but this time the Crimson came in right behind. Washington and Brown battled for the top spot, with the Huskies prevailing in an event-record 5:32.083, but Harvard also showed the resolve that has carried the crew for much of the season, as it separated from a tight rear pack to capture bronze in 5:38.789.
“The second varsity had a really, really good race,” Locke said. “I think they were pleased to beat a lot of the crews that had beaten them at Eastern Sprints.”
Both of the Crimson’s varsity four boats enjoyed even more success, cruising to a pair of victories in the Third-Level and Petite Finals. Harvard’s win in the Third-Level race was particularly emphatic, with an 11.9-second margin separating the crew from second-place Princeton.
The freshman eight also competed for Harvard, taking fifth in its race with a time of 5:41.979. But while the rookie boat did not fare as well as its counterparts, with such a young team at all levels Locke was encouraged by how much experience the Crimson gained for next year.
“Probably for us, the most important thing with such a young crew…[was] to see the standard necessary to win a national championship,” he said. “From that point of view we definitely pulled something out of the regatta. We’re very excited to try and win next year.”