Sprint to the Finish

Sprint to the Finish
Leila L. Pirbay

A ferocious sprint in the final 300 meters gave the No. 3 Harvard men’s heavyweights the victory over fourth-ranked Princeton on Saturday

Make it happen.

For those looking to describe Harvard crew on Saturday, those three words are a good place to start.

“That’s been our motto all year,” said junior Mike DiSanto, seven seat of the heavyweight first varsity eight. “And we certainly made it happen today.”

The Crimson heavyweights swept its races against Princeton at Lake Carnegie in Princeton Township, N.J., while the lightweights took four out of five races on the Charles.



Last year, Harvard’s first varsity eight cruised to an easy victory after the Tigers lost the bow of their boat, but this year, Princeton didn’t give the Crimson anything.

Harvard had to take it.

“It was a bit like a boxing match,” DiSanto said. “We were both throwing punches. We kind of had the knockout punch with the sprint.”

The Tigers and the Crimson had been even throughout the race, but Princeton took two moves in the middle 1,000 that gave it an edge.

“They had two big pushes: one in the second 500 and one in the third 500,” junior stroke Pat Lapage said. “[Harvard coach] Harry [Parker] told us to expect that they’d be very strong through the middle. We sort of planned our race accordingly.”

According to DiSanto, the Tigers’ move at the 750-to-go mark gave it a lead of two-to-three seats that the crew would be able to hold until around 300 meters, when Harvard charged forward for good with a crushingly high sprint.

“We really brought it up,” DiSanto said of the stroke rating. “I think we probably went up to about 38-39 from about 750, up to 40 for the last 300, about 42 for the last 20 strokes.”

The sprint gave the Crimson a 1.2 second victory. It was the first time a Princeton first varsity eight had lost all season.

“We knew we had a pretty good sprint,” Lapage said. “It showed us how [fast] we have to be...We were pretty happy with the way it all panned out in the end.”

While the first varsity eight was a stroke-for-stroke battle, the other three races were more one-sided. The second varsity won by 10 seconds, the freshman eight won by 5.8 seconds, and the third varsity eight won by 15.3 seconds. Harvard’s fourth varsity eight, competing in the third varsity eight event, defeated the Tigers’ third varsity eight by 4.1 seconds and fell to its own 3V by 11.2 seconds.