Harvard lightweight crew handily dismissed Cornell and Penn this Saturday on the Schuykill River in Philadelphia.
The Crimson crossed the finish line in a swift 5:51.8, a full four seconds--about a boat length and a half--ahead of the Big Red and 14.1 seconds ahead of the Quakers.
Although Penn hasn't assembled a formidable crew in recent memory, Cornell is an up-and-coming crew and couldn't be taken lightly. And while the Crimson had some tough luck at Eastern Sprints last season, the Big Red placed fourth--more than 10 seconds in front of Harvard--nonetheless.
"We weren't sure what to expect from Cornell," said captain Chris Schulte, who is the lightweight's coxswain. "They have been strong for a few years. We expected them to be pretty quick."
Harvard jumped out to an early lead, although the three boats were close together until Cornell and Harvard pulled away from Penn at the 300-meter mark. By the 600-meter mark, it was a two boat race between Cornell and Harvard.
The Crimson was further aided at the get-go by a Cornell rower falling off his seat in the boat.
"[A rower] physically sat on the bottom of Cornell's boat," stroke Matt Emans said. "He missed a couple of strokes and it allowed us to take an early lead. We continued to expand on the lead for the rest of the race."
It was the Crimson's final kick at the 1500-meter mark that sealed the victory, however.
During the last 500 meters, the Crimson improved its lead over Cornell from a little less than a length to more than a boat length and a half. Penn finished sorely off the pace, nearly five point lengths behind Harvard.
"We built up the lead gradually over the course of the race and then moved away in the last 500 meters," Schulte said. "At the 1500-meter mark, we moved to open water."
According to Schulte, the race--the first against Ivy League competition--was satisfying.
"It was a good race for us," the senior said. "We kept our cadence pretty well. We moved well against the other boats when we wanted to, which is encouraging."
It should be payback time for the lightweights this weekend against Dartmouth in the Biglin Bowl. Last season, Dartmouth vanquished Harvard for the first time in the 39-year history of the event.
To say that the Crimson is hungry for revenge would be an understatement.
"Revenge is definitely big in our minds," Emans said. "We've been keying towards Dartmouth and Princeton [next weekend] all year. We don't know much about them, so our strategy is just to go and give them our best race and hopefully that will be good enough to beat them."
"It could our toughest race of the season," Schulte said. "Dartmouth won Sprints last year. They're ranked number one or two in the poll."