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In the spring, there were surprises all around. The men's lighweight crew won the National Title, and the softball team went to its first-ever tournament. On the other hand, the men's heavyweight crew and the women's lacrosse team had some of their worst seasons in years.
It is usually the fate of Harvard's lightweight crew to be a second sister to its heavy brothers. Heavyweight coach Harry Parker had, coming into 1995, lost only 23 dual meets in 32 years, while light coach Charlie Butt "only" had a record of 22-8.
In 1995, however, it would be the lightweights that would steal the spotlight. the lights avenged a third-place finish in the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet by winning Sprints and then the National Title.
The heavyweights, meanwhile, did not have such a successful year. The dual meet season began well, with a win over Brown (thanks, however, to errors on the Bears' part), but fizzled as Harvard lost to Princeton and Penn, finished fifth at Sprints and fourth at the IRA Regatta.
No one really expected much out of this squad.
The Crimson was a young team, seating several sophomores in the boat, and had come off a 2-2 season. The crew world, however, was in for a surprise.
Taking the San Diego Classic wasn't that much of a shock, as Harvard won the meet last year. But then the Crimson started rolling up victories. It began with a win over Penn and Cornell. Then a victory over Dartmouth, avenging last year's loss. Next, MIT and Navy fell under Harvard's bow.
Suddenly, Harvard was undefeated going into the H-Y-Ps. And just when it looked like the Crimson couldn't stay hot any longer, the squad, well, couldn't. Harvard finished a disappointing third to its rivals.
However, like the great crews do, Harvard rebounded in its next meet. Fortunately for the Crimson, that next meet was sprints.
Harvard nuked its opposition, revenging Yale and Princeton by four and five seconds, respectively, and topping Dartmouth and Cornell by more than 10 seconds. Some may have thought that the Crimson had a good chance to win, but certainly not by that much.
The only meet left now was the IRA Regatta for the National Title, which Harvard won in four fine fashion. The Crimson whipped its foes, crossing the line 1.7 seconds ahead of second-place Princeton. The Harvard lights may not have been expected to do much, but they did anyway.
For the bigger boat, the story wasn't quite as rosy.
Put it this way: when Harvard upset Brown and still went 2-2 in dual meets (not including its Jan 10 meeting with Yale), something was wrong.
The year began on an inauspicious note in the San Diego Classic where Harvard lost to Washington--a team the Crimson beat in 1994. That would be the first sign that things were amiss.
In the following meet against Brown, Harvard's upset shocked everyone and made the front page of the Boston Globe's sports section, as Harvard smoked Brown by more than Three boat lengths.
The favored Brown crew appeared unprepared for the conditions that Harvard captain Elijah White termed "biblical". Brown's two-man, Dave Fillipone, caught a crab, bouncing the flat part of the oar off the water. The crab turned an even race into one in which Harvard suddenly had a better part of a length lead, which the Crimson would extend even more.
But that would be the high point of the year. Harvard then lost to Princeton--for the first time in over 10 years--and Navy. A two-second topping of Northeastern evened Harvard's dual meet record at 2-2 again with Sprints and the Regatta upcoming.
However, those which were so awesome for the light eight were nightmares for the heavies. Harvard finished fifth in Sprints and fourth in the Regatta, with Princeton and Brown winning the meets, respectively. That's not supposed to happen to Harvard heavyweight crew.
It was a not a good year. But in the 136th year of Harvard heavyweight crew, everyone knows that there will be another.
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