Harvard Heavyweight Crew Looks to Sprint to Eastern Titles Sunday
The Crimson varsity eight lost one race, by just one second, during the dual season (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
Harvard’s heavyweight crew will compete in the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges Championships Sunday, May 17 on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. Racing begins at 8:20 a.m., as the Crimson, ranked fourth nationally and seeded second in the EARC, seeks its fifth Sprints varsity eight title in eight years.
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Cox: Kelly Evans, 8: Patrick Lapage, 7: Matt Edstein, 6: Nick Jordan, 5: David Wakulich, 4: Sam O’Connor, 3: Michael DiSanto, 2: Anthony Locke, 1: Blake Pucsek
Second Varsity Eight
Cox: Joseph Lin, 8: Benjamin French, 7: Noah Bruegmann, 6: Mark Fuller, 5: Connor Griffith, 4: Phil Matthews, 3: Christopher Fuller, 2: Ivan Posavec, 1: Elihu Reynolds
Third Varsity Eight
Cox: Alex Sopko, 8: Jack Morrissey, 7: Robert Stone, 6: Kyle Gordon, 5: Duncan Gilchrist, 4: Lukens Orthwein, 3: Spencer Livingston, 2: Richard Anderson, 1: Alex Soutter
Fourth Varsity Eight
Cox: Tian Feng, 8: Alex Housser, 7: David Paresky, 6: Edward Winters Ronaldson, 5: Karl Hirt, 4: Andrew Stein, 3: Andew Safir, 2: Mihailo Malowany, 1: Andrew Hamm
Cox: David Fuller, 8: Peter Scholle, 7: James O’Connor, 6: Parker Washburn, 5: Justin Mundt, 4: Jason Phillips, 3: Eli Shikaloff, 2: Alex MacIntosh, 1: Josh Hicks
Cox: Colby Wilkason, 4: Matthew Vincent, 3: Nolan Pollock, 2: William Polachek, 1: Tom Hanson
In the six events that contribute to the Sprints team competitions (heavy and light varsity, second varsity and freshman eights), Harvard’s boats own a combined 43-4 dual-racing record, as the heavy and lightweight freshman eights join the light varsity with unblemished records. All six are seeded in the EARC’s top three, with the three unbeaten boats each seeded first.
Sprinting to Success
Harvard has more Sprints titles than any other school. Adding up the six major divisions at Eastern Sprints, Harvard crews have combined to win 134 titles, including 49 at the varsity level (25 heavyweight, 24 lightweight).
Last Season at Sprints
Led by a runner-up finish for the varsity eight, all five Crimson boats medaled to lift the Harvard lightweights to the Jope Cup as EARC team champion. The third varsity eight won its grand final, and the freshman eight placed second.
The heavyweights placed second in the varsity and team competitions and reached all five heavyweight grand finals with heat wins. The Crimson also recorded runner-up finishes in the freshman eight and the third varsity eight and placed third in the second freshman eight.
On 12 occasions, most recently in 2005, both the Harvard heavyweight and lightweight varsity eights won Sprints gold medals, a feat that has only been accomplished four times by non???Harvard crews. The Crimson won both divisions in 1947, ’59, ’66, ’68, ’69, ’74, ’75, ’77, ’80, ’88, ’89 and 2005.
Only 11 times in the 64-year history of Sprints and on just six occasions since 1957 has Harvard failed to win at least one major grand final in either the heavyweight or the lightweight division. In one of those seasons (1981), the Crimson did not compete due to final exams. In two others (heavyweight in 1992, lightweight last season), Harvard has won a team cup despite not coming away with a gold medal.
The top-finishing Ivy League varsity eights in the heavy and light divisions will win the Ancient Eight title. The Harvard heavyweights have earned 25 Ivy crowns since 1957, while the lightweights have won 23.
Quest for the Cup
Harvard’s 2009 Jope Cup victory as Sprints lightweight team champion was its 20th and third since 2004. The Crimson has won the Jope Cup more times than any other team.
The Crimson also owns a league-high 29 Rowe Cup titles as heavyweight team champion. Five of those cup wins have come in the last eight years. Since 2002, the Harvard heavyweights and lightweights have won a combined eight team trophies.
A top-nine heavyweight varsity finish or top???seven lightweight showing is needed to land an EARC crew in the 108th IRA National Championships June 3-5 on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J. Harvard has won three IRA heavyweight titles in the last seven years and seven IRA lightweight crowns.
Dual Season Recap
The Crimson heavyweight varsity eight enters its championship season and final dual race one second shy of a chance at a second straight perfect dual season. Harvard opened the season with its first dual regatta against Cornell since 1961, winning all five races, including a 4.4-second win in the varsity eight.
The annual early-season clash with fellow Eastern power Brown followed. The Bears won the varsity eight race by one second and won the second and third varsities, while Harvard claimed victory in both freshman events. The Crimson rebounded by taking all four races from Princeton, sweeping the Tigers and MIT for the Compton Cup. The Princeton varsity, trying to come from behind, did not finish the race, as its rudder cable broke and its bow crashed into Harvard’s stern and broke off.
Harvard then took five of six races from Navy and Penn and all three from Northeastern. In the highly anticipated varsity matchup with the Huskies, both teams entered having suffered only narrow losses to Brown. The Crimson, however, went up by three seats almost immediately and went on to win by more than six seconds.
Records and Rankings
With its 6-1 record, the No. 4 Harvard heavyweight varsity eight is seeded behind only defending-champion Brown in the EARC. The top-seeded Crimson freshman eight is 6-0, one win away from an unblemished dual record for the fourth straight season. The second and third varsity eights are both 5-1 and ranked second and fifth, respectively. The fourth varsity is 1-3, with all races coming against opponents’ third varsities. Harvard defeated Penn in its only freshman four race.
The Harvard heavyweight varsity eight has defeated its last five and 19 of its last 20 dual opponents. The Crimson has defeated its last 15 dual opponents when racing at home on the Charles River and has beaten 37 of its last 38 home dual opponents. Harvard’s last home loss was April 15, 2006 against Princeton. The Harvard freshman eight has defeated 26 straight dual opponents since falling to Yale to close the 2006 season.
Harry Parker, the Thomas Bolles Head Coach for Harvard Men’s Crew, is in his 48th season leading the Crimson heavyweights. He has guided the Crimson to 21 varsity Sprints titles, most recently in 2007, and 17 second varsity crowns. Parker’s dual coaching record is 297-44-1, and last season’s perfect dual record was his 20th. The third and fourth varsities are led by assistant coach Wayne Berger.
Harvard’s freshman coach, in his 12th season, is Bill Manning. He has directed the Crimson rookies to the 1999, 2001, ’02, ’04 and ’08 Sprints titles. A Harvard freshman win against Yale would give Manning his fourth straight perfect dual season.
The Crimson heavyweights are captained by senior Blake Pucsek (Victoria, B.C.), who has rowed in the varsity eight since returning from a year away from Harvard in 2007-08. Pucsek trained with Rowing Canada during the Olympic year, helping his home nation take the silver medal at the World Under 23 Championships and win the Grand Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta.
The Varsity Eight
Harvard’s success this season has come despite just one-third of the athletes in its top boat having raced in the varsity eight last season. The three varsity veterans are bowman Blake Pucsek, junior Anthony Locke (Isle of Wight, England) and junior David Wakulich (St. Catharines, Ont.). Senior coxswain Kelly Evans (East Greenwich, R.I.) was a part of the second varsity eight last season, while sophomores Michael DiSanto (Boston, Mass.), Matt Edstein (Sydney, Australia), Nick Jordan (Princeton, N.J.), Patrick Lapage (Shrewsbury, England) and Sam O’Connor (Christchurch, New Zealand) came from Harvard’s 2009 freshman eight.
A Winning Boat
The Harvard varsity eight races in the same shell that Malcolm Howard ’05 and the Canada men’s eight rowed to a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The boat was dedicated in Howard’s honor following the Crimson’s April 17 sweep of Princeton and MIT.
Harvard’s Major Heavyweight Sprints
Varsity eight: 1947, ’48, ’49, ’59, ’64, ’65, ’66, ’67, ’68, ’69, ’70, ’74, ’75, ’76, ’77, ’80, ’83, ’85, ’88, ’89, ’90, 2003, ’04, ’05, ’07.
Second varsity eight: 1947, ’49, ’64, ’65, ’66, ’69, ’72, ’73, ’74, ’75, ’78, ’85, ’86, ’90, ’93, 2002, ’03, ’04, ’05, ’06.
Freshman eight: 1949, ’50, ’55, ’58, ’63, ’65, ’67, ’72, ’76, ’80, ’83, ’84, ’85, ’86, ’90, ’99, 2001, ’02, ’04, ’08.
Rowe Cup: 1947, ’48, ’49, ’51, ’59, ’64, ’65, ’66, ’67, ’69, ’70, ’72, ’73, ’74, ’75, ’76, ’78, ’80, ’83, ’85, ’86, ’88, ’90, ’92, 2002, ’03, ’04, ’06, ’07.
Harvard has swept the three major heavyweight divisions at Eastern Sprints five times (1945, ’65, ’85, ’90, 2004). Only three other times has one school swept all three races: 1952 (Navy), ’79 (Yale) and ’94 (Brown). Harvard has won two of the three races on 14 occasions. The Crimson has advanced to the varsity grand final in 60 of its 64 years racing at Sprints.
Before competing for a national title, the Crimson heavyweights will face the rival Bulldogs in the 145th Harvard-Yale Regatta, America’s oldest intercollegiate sporting event, May 29 in New London, Conn.