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Harvard's lightweight crew, the class of Eastern rowing over the last three years, faces a heavy rebuilding program this Spring if the Crimson hopes to extend Harvard dominance another season.
The Crimson, which outdistanced all opponents en route to a record-shattering season a year ago, lost four important men from last year's squad. However, with four returning All-Ivy rowers and the largest turnout ever, coach Steve Gladstone seems to have more than enough talent to continue as reigning king of lightweight rowing.
Because the Crimson lightweights are still in the process of seat-racing for position, Gladstone has yet to choose this year's boat. The next two weeks, including a gruelling stretch of double sessions during Spring break, will be vital in determining the make-up of this year's squad. Harvard opens the 1972 season April 15 against Columbia and Rutgers.
This year's boat should ultimately shape up around a strong nucleus of All-Ivy performers. Tony Brooks, Jim Richardson and Phin Sprague--each a two-time league all-star--and Andy Narva--All-Ivy a year ago--will probably be the backbone of the first boat once again.
Despite the loss of key performers in the six, seven and stroke seat positions, as well as last year's cox. Gladstone is cautiously optimistic about his team's chances.
"It's hard to say right now how we'll do." Gladstone said yesterday, "since we are still in the process of seat-racing to pick the first boat. We lost a lot, but we still have some really good people in the program. It's just a matter of putting it all together."
Putting together a boat to follow last year's record-setting combination is a tall order to fill. The Crimson lightweights of a year ago, undefeated for the third straight year since Gladstone took the Harvard job in 1969, took both the Ivy and Eastern titles before moving on to further honors in post-season competition.
At the Easterns, the lightweights set a new record for margin of victory with a whopping 14-second spread. Rowing against a fierce headwind, the Crimson performance easily bested the old record of ten seconds for margin of victory.
From there the Crimson moved to the Pan-American trials where the Harvard lightweights finished sixth against a field of heavyweights. The Crimson came in a scant 4 seconds behind Brown and 1.4 seconds behind Rutgers.
Last summer, the lightweights traveled to Europe and continued their strive. In England at the Henley Cup races, both the eight and the four-man boats triumphed--the first time that American contestants had taken both titles in the history of the competition.
Harvard topped off a record breaking year by finishing fourth in the Senior Eights at Lucerne, Switzerland, breaking the magic six-minute mark in the process. The Crimson finished in 5:59.
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