Crimson Lightweight Crew Seeks National Title Saturday Morning

Crimson Lightweight Crew Seeks National Title Saturday Morning

The Crimson looks to close a highlight-filled season with a national championship.

Harvard Crew IRA Media Notes

Harvard's heavyweight and lightweight crews look to add “national champion” to their already-long lists of accomplishments for 2009-10 as they compete at the 108th Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships this weekend on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J.

The lightweight varsity eight has already registered a 10-0 dual season and captured Eastern Sprints silver medals and will look to cap the season with its eighth national title in the IRA grand final Saturday at 11:45 a.m.

Follow from Home
Live audio from the IRA National Championships is available here for each of the three days of racing. Live results are available here.

Probable Boatings
Cox: Dexter Louie, 8: Tim Moore, 7: Austin Meyer, 6: Will Newell, 5: Martin Eiermann, 4: Tom Nesel, 3: Andrew Trott, 2: Jared Dourdeville, 1: James Stewart

Team Strength
In the four IRA events in which Harvard regularly competes during the season (heavy varsity, second varsity and freshman eights; light varsity eight), Harvard's boats own a combined 30-2 dual-racing record, as the heavy and lightweight freshman eights join the light varsity with unblemished records. All four boats placed in the top four at Sprints, with the heavyweight varsity and freshman eights winning gold and the lightweight varsity earning silver.

Flashback to 2009
The Harvard lightweights trailed only rivals Princeton and Yale in last season's IRA grand final. The Tigers pulled away early to finish first in 6:02.63, while the Bulldogs used a strong sprint to cross the line in 6:07.74, just ahead of Harvard's 6:09.10.

Lightweight Sprints Recap
The Harvard lightweight crew placed second in the varsity and freshman eight grand finals as well as the Jope Cup team competition at the EARC Sprints May 16.

Four of Harvard's five entered boats earned silver medals, with the third varsity eight and second freshman eight also garnering runner-up status and the freshman eight missing gold by about three-tenths of a second. The Crimson, the defending Jope champion, totaled 32 team points to finish five back of Princeton, which edged Harvard for the varsity title.

The Crimson finished on the wrong end of some tight first-place battles. Princeton gained revenge on a Harvard varsity eight that beat the Tigers two weeks earlier to end its rival's 20-race win streak and take its No. 1 national ranking. The race followed a similar script to the previous meeting with Princeton gaining a little bit of room on second-place Harvard as the race progressed, only to see the Crimson close well. This time, the Tigers' lead proved big enough, as Princeton held on to win by 2.3 seconds, with Harvard crossing the line in 5:43.417. With the runner-up finish, the members of the Crimson varsity eight were named second-team All-Ivy.

Lightweight Dual Season Recap
Harvard won each of its 10 varsity races, but the dual season was not without challenges. After opening with a 13.4-second home win against Delaware, the Crimson faced four top-10 crews over two days at locations 300 miles apart. Harvard finished more than 11 seconds ahead of No. 6 Cornell and No. 8 Penn in frigid, windy temperatures in Ithaca, N.Y., then returned home to defeat No. 5 Georgetown and No. 9 Saint Joseph's.

The Crimson failed to finish first in just one race of the 14 in its first three regattas and continued that dominance as it raced for the Biglin Bowl against host Dartmouth and MIT. The Big Green varsity gave Harvard its closest race yet, but the Crimson won that event by 3.7 seconds as part of a four-race sweep.

Harvard entered the final two weeks of the dual season with matchups remaining against the other three of the nation's top four teams. First up was No. 3 Navy, and the Crimson rose to the challenge with a 5.5-second varsity win, its first in Annapolis, Md., since 1997. Harvard won three of the day's other four races as well.

In the HYP dual finale, the Crimson varsity trailed top-ranked Princeton by as much as four seats but rallied to win by seven-tenths of a second and snap the Tigers' 20-race win streak. The Harvard freshman eight also came from behind to finish off an unbeaten dual season with a win against its rivals.

Harvard's unbeaten lightweight varsity dual season is the 25th in program history, the fourth under head coach Charley Butt and the Crimson's first since 1997. The Crimson varsity and freshman eights have each posted combined 18-1 records over the last two seasons.

Lightweight Coaching Staff
Charley Butt is in his 25th season guiding the Harvard lightweight varsity crew. Butt has led the Crimson varsity to six Eastern Sprints titles, most recently in 2005. He has guided the second varsity eight into the winner's circle at Sprints on five occasions, including back-to-back wins in 2004-05. Butt also coached former Radcliffe standout Michelle Guerette '02 to an Olympic silver medal in 2008.

The Crimson's freshman coach is Linda Muri, who is in her ninth year and guided her Yardlings to Sprints gold in 2004. Muri, a graduate of both MIT and Harvard, is the namesake of the Muri Cup, awarded annually to the winner of the MIT-Radcliffe lightweight women's dual race. She is currently coaching the U.S. Under 23 Women's National Team at their selection camp in Chula Vista, Calif.

Lightweight IRA History
The lightweights have been rowing at the IRA Regatta since 1990, when the event became the national championship for lightweight crew. Prior to competing at IRAs, the Crimson competed at the Empire State Regatta for the national title.

Harvard has won seven national titles since 1990 with the most recent coming in 2003. The Crimson also captured IRA national titles in 1991, '93, '95, '97, '99 and 2001.

Lightweight Captain

Martin Eiermann (Mainz, Germany), captain of the Crimson lightweights, is in his third season in the varsity eight. In addition to his Harvard success, Eiermann rowed alongside Moritz Hafner '09 in the men's lightweight pair for Germany at the Rowing World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland in 2009.

Lightweight Varsity Eight
Four oarsmen and coxswain Dexter Louie (San Francisco, Calif.) of the Harvard lightweight varsity eight were in the top Crimson boat last season. Will Newell (Weston, Mass.), Andrew Trott (Cape Town, South Africa), Jared Dourdeville (Marion, Mass.) and Martin Eiermann sat in the six through three seats in the 2009 varsity.

Austin Meyer (Cohoes, N.Y.), Tim Moore (Exeter, N.H.) and James Stewart (Arlington, Va.) were part of the freshman eight last season, and Billy Hennrikus (Hershey, Pa.) rowed in the 2008 freshman eight.

Filling In
Key to the HYP win was sophomore Tom Nesel (Castleton, N.Y.), who filled in for an injured varsity oarsman and fit in flawlessly despite a move from port to starboard and just two days of practice with his new boat. Nesel returned to the second varsity eight for Sprints.

National Aspirations
Will Newell and Austin Meyer have been invited to the U.S. Under 23 selection camp for the men's lightweight four without coxswain, while lightweight freshman Eric Schultze (Foxboro, Mass.) has been invited to the sculling camp and heavyweight Nick Jordan is headed to the U23 Men's National Team camp.

The Boat Race
Former Crimson heavyweights Simon Gawlik '09, Cameron Winklevoss '04 and Tyler Winklevoss '04 rowed for Oxford in the 2010 Xchanging Boat Race on the River Thames in London, the 156th meeting of Oxford and Cambridge in a rivalry that dates back to 1829. Former Harvard heavyweight William Rueter '09 and former Crimson lightweight Moritz Hafner competed in the Isis vs. Goldie race. Cambridge won both races.