2011 was a big year in Harvard athletics. Women’s soccer captured its third Ivy League championship in four years. The men’s basketball team took home a share of the Ancient Eight title and entered the nation’s Top 25, both firsts in program history. Football set a modern-era program record for points in a season, scoring 374 points en route to a 9-1 finish and a league crown. Four other teams—men’s fencing, men’s heavyweight and lightweight crew, and softball—also finished 2011 on top of the Ivy League standings.
There were a number of standout individual performances as well. Women’s fencer Alexandra Kiefer captured the NCAA Foil Individual title. Men’s basketball forward Keith Wright became just the second player in Harvard history to take home Ivy League Player of the Year honors. Women’s soccer and lacrosse captain Melanie Baskind was named to the First Team All-Ivy in two different sports and was selected as the Ivy League Player of the Year in soccer.
We at The Back Page have taken on the tall task of determining the best Harvard athlete of 2011. Here’s how it will go down: we’ve selected 16 standout Harvard athletes—eight male and eight female—and set up two single elimination brackets. Each round, Harvard’s finest will square off in head-to-head matchups. And based on their performances in 2011, we will determine who advances and who is eliminated until just one male and one female remain. Then, the two champs will square off to determine the top Harvard athlete of 2011.
Recently we released the first-round winners on the male side of the bracket, and earlier today, we revealed the winner of the matchup between Josue Ortiz and Keith Wright. Now, we take a look at our second men’s semifinal: football’s Collier Winters against rowing phenom Andrew Campbell.
Collier Winters v. Andrew Campbell
Without question, senior quarterback Collier Winters had a huge 2011, making the All-Ivy second team despite missing forty percent of his team’s games and beating Yale for the third straight year. Yet as dominant as he was in that latter half of the season, there was a point in the year where it wasn't clear that he was the best quarterback on his own team.
Sophomore Andrew Campbell, by contrast, is the top lightweight sculler in the country and one of the best in the world.
While Winters guided Harvard to five of its seven Ancient Eight victories, the Crimson earned two of them with junior Colton Chapple under center. And though Harvard's perfect record in Ivy play largely overshadowed it, Winters struggled in the season opener against Holy Cross, going 25-for-41 and throwing two touchdowns and as many interceptions. Without that loss, the 9-1 Crimson would probably have gone down as one of the one or two best Harvard teams of the modern era.
Campbell on the other hand didn't have any substandard races—his fourth place finish in the World Rowing Championships was the only time all year he failed to medal in a sculling event.
Winters' accomplishments may be better known by many of the Crimson faithful, but they simply aren't on the same level as Campbell's.
Winner: Andrew Campbell