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Crew of the Year Selection Caps Banner Season for Harvard Heavyweights

The Crimson varsity celebrates its Sprints championship, with Harvard-Yale and Henley titles still to come.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The Harvard heavyweight varsity eight has been selected as 2009-10 Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges Co-Crew of the Year, capping a season full of successes and closing another memorable chapter in the history of one of college athletics’ oldest and most historic programs.

The Crimson shared selection as top crew with Cornell. Harvard captured the Eastern Sprints and Henley Ladies’ Challenge Plate titles, won the Harvard-Yale Regatta, placed fourth at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships and posted a 7-1 dual record. The Big Red missed the Sprints grand final but came back to edge Harvard by less than a second at the IRA regatta.

Harvard finished one-second shy of a perfect dual season. The Crimson opened the spring with a 4.4-second win at Cornell before suffering a narrow loss to defending Eastern champion Brown. Harvard then survived a collision with Princeton to take the Compton Cup, defeated  Navy and Penn for the Adams Cup and cruised to a six-second win in a Smith Cup showdown with Boston neighbor Northeastern.

At Sprints, Harvard avenged its only previous loss by beating third-place Brown, with Princeton placing second. The Crimson led throughout the grand final, but the contest was close among the top three crews, and Harvard surged to a 2.5-second win. The victory gave Harvard its 26th Eastern title and 26th Ivy League crown. The varsity’s performance also anchored Harvard’s 30th claiming of the Rowe Cup as overall team champion, while the freshman eight and freshman four also captured Sprints gold.

The varsity defeated the rival Bulldogs by 5.9 seconds in the four-mile finale of the 145th Harvard-Yale Regatta, capping the Crimson’s third straight sweep at America’s oldest intercollegiate sporting event. Harvard took the lead a mile into the race and led by as much as eight seconds with a mile to go.

The Crimson varsity showed that it was not only a top crew in the East but could compete against the nation’s best by earning a spot in the IRA grand final. Harvard battled with Cornell throughout that race and finished more than nine seconds ahead of Brown. A bronze medal for the second varsity eight also highlighted the Crimson’s fourth-place team finish.

Harvard wrapped up the season with a win on the other side of the Atlantic, beating the combined eight from Oxford Brookes University and Oxford University by one-third of a boat length to take the Ladies’ Plate at the Henley Royal Regatta. It was the seventh time the Crimson has won the event at Henley.

The Crimson’s success in 2009-10 was not limited to the varsity eight. In addition to their Eastern crown, the Harvard freshmen posted a fourth straight undefeated dual season, going 7-0. The IRA medal-winning second varsity also had a 6-1 dual mark, while the third varsity went 5-1 and earned a bronze medal at Sprints.