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There’s winning, there’s dominance and there’s what Harvard did to its opponents yesterday at EARC Sprints.
The Crimson owned the waters of Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. yesterday afternoon, sweeping the first and second varsity, as well as the first freshman eight—each by open water—the third varsity and the second freshman-fourth varsity eights to capture the Rowe Cup as overall point champions for the third consecutive year.
“For us to go to Eastern Sprints and show off our dominance made it more of an exhibition race than a competitive race,” said senior Justin Webb, seven seat on the second varsity. “We’ve been looking forward to this race for weeks just to show off what we could do.”
For the first varsity, that translated to showcasing its much-improved start, the sole weak point in its rows from the season’s first regatta.
“I would say in the last three weeks or so we’ve improved our start so we weren’t losing any seats off our start,” said senior two seat Jordan Sagalowsky. “After our high strokes, no one had an advantage over us.”
That of course meant trouble for the other five boats in the Grand Final. The Crimson had enjoyed tremendous success walking back through opponents off the start during its dual season, and with even footing after the first 20 strokes, Harvard didn’t hesitate to capitalize on its strong position.
“Our goal is always to get ahead, attack, attack and attack some more,” said senior stroke Kip McDaniel. “We didn’t really do a sprint that much, but we definitely kept on attacking the field, which is what we need to do.”
With its base cadence hovering around 36.5 strokes per minutes, the Crimson opened up an open-water lead by the 800-meter mark and continued walking through, leaving Princeton, Navy, Northeastern and Wisconsin to battle for second.
“I think with 1,000 meters to go we knew if we didn’t screw up we’d win,” McDaniel said.
Needless to say, they didn’t.
According to Sagalowsky, the rowers eased up just a bit with about 700 meters to go, dampening their own pace slightly and surrendering a seat to the crews in pursuit, but Harvard quickly slammed that window of opportunity shut. Retaking the seat, the Crimson pulled away for a 4.809 second victory, separated by about half a length from the nearest shell.
“One of the nice things about our crew for racing—it can be frustrating in practice—we tend to clean things up when we raise the cadence,” Sagalowsky said. “A lot of the technical problems disappear when we’re under pressure, when people are focused and working harder.”
Yet, despite his crew’s solid row, Harvard coach Harry Parker couldn’t help but point out a flaw or two.
“We were actually standing on the dock and Harry Parker whispered to me that the base cadence was a bit low,” McDaniel said. “I guess he had to find fault with something.”
The Tigers claimed second, the Midshipmen third, Huskies fourth.
Though the challengers changed, the second varsity Grand Finalg followed a virtually identical script.
The Crimson began even off the start and quickly built an insurmountable lead, capped by open water 1,000 meters in.
“There was a call from our coxswain [junior Catherine Randolph], at about 1,000 meters,” Webb said. “‘Okay, seniors, your time is now.’”
Randolph’s words did not fall on deaf ears, as the 2V extended its lead in much the same fashion as the first varsity, opening up nearly one length of separation before crossing the line with a 5.062-second victory.
“The coaches from other schools were saying that they look forward to the class of 2004 graduating,” Webb said.
Harvard’s first two varsity boats feature 12 seniors, two juniors and one sophomore.
The Crimson now prepares for IRA Nationals in Camden, N.J., contested June 3-5, looking to close out a second-straight perfect season.
—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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