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Rowers say there’s no such thing as a perfect race, and maybe there’s no such thing as a perfect season either.
But up to this point, Harvard’s performance has been about as good as it gets.
All of the Crimson’s eights are undefeated and top-seeded in the EARC, and this weekend—Harvard’s last on the Charles and last dual race before Sprints—the Crimson was triumphant once again, prevailing over Northeastern in the first varsity and first freshman races to take the Smith Cup.
“It’s a mix of dedication on our part and just great coaching,” said junior Mike DiSanto, three seat of the first varsity eight.
While a loss by the freshman four to the Huskies marked the first time a Harvard boat has lost to any opposing crews—including 4V wins over Princeton’s 3V and 1Vs—the 4+ race was a scrimmage, rather than a race for shirts, and therefore the Crimson can rightfully call itself undefeated.
FIRST VARSITY EIGHT
Harvard’s most dominant win came in the first varsity eight race, which the Crimson won by 14.7 seconds.
“We got up, and we just kept moving,” DiSanto said. “That’s something we’ve been working on ... We had what I think was the best race of our season.”
Harvard earned a commanding lead in the first 500, and by the end of the race, it seemed to be racing itself more than it was racing against Northeastern.
“The most important thing to us was rowing our race,” DiSanto said. “We kind of talked about ‘If we do our thing, everything else will fall into place.’ I was really happy with it. I think all the other guys were equally as happy. Everybody in our boat understood that it was our dress rehearsal for Sprints. Guys realized that this race was just as important as any other one we’ve raced this year.”
SECOND AND THIRD VARSITY EIGHTS
While the 1V race proved to be rather one-sided, the race between the Crimson’s 2V and 3V was a hotly contested battle.
Northeastern didn’t have a 2V or a 3V, so Harvard’s eights raced each other.
The 2V’s win over its own 3V was unsurprising, but the 3V kept the race impressively close.
“It looked like the 3V had a very strong row,” said captain Anthony Locke, four seat of the first varsity eight. “I think they were very happy with it.”
The 3V managed to stay neck and neck with the 2V for the first 500 before the 2V made a move in the second 500 that would prove to be the race-winner.
But the 3V never allowed the 2V open water, which was especially impressive given that the 2V had moved to the 3V’s bow deck in the third 500, pushing it out of the line of sight of the 3V’s rowers.
The 3V actually moved in on the 2V in the sprint, and the 2V only won by seven to eight seats.
“That was really close,” DiSanto said. “I think it was back and forth pretty much down the entire course. The JV got them in the end. When we were paddling [up to the starting line], everyone was pretty happy to see that kind of intra-squad competition. Both of those boats are very fast—I think that bodes well for Sprints.”
The tightest race of the day was the first freshman event, and the Crimson was only able to pull out a 1.2-second victory.
The crews were dead even for the first 1000 meters to the point where their bow balls were nearly indistinguishable from each other.
Harvard took a move in the third 500 that gave it a three to four-seat lead. While the Huskies was able to halt the Crimson’s move, they were never able to counter, and Harvard squeezed out a narrow victory.
The Crimson crossed the line in 6:03.1, while the Northeastern finished in 6:04.3. Both eights’ times were faster than the 6:11.4 posted by the Huskies’ 1V.
Harvard’s 4V also participated in the race and finished well off the pace set by the 1Fs.
“They had a really good race on their hands,” Locke said. “That’s going to give them a little more motivation going into Sprints.”
“Northeastern’s freshman [eight] is one of the best freshman eights in the league,” DiSanto said. “They’ll be good in the coming years with that freshman class.”
The Huskies had their way in the first race of the day: the freshman four event. Northeastern moved to open water early in the race and was able to maintain a steady lead throughout en route to a 2.9-second advantage.
—Staff writer Christina C. McClintock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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