Crimson Lightweights Seek Perfect Finish at IRA National Championships
CAMDEN, N.J.—The Harvard lightweight varsity eight looks to finish off a flawless season with a national title at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships Saturday on the Cooper River.
The top-ranked Crimson has not lost a dual regatta in two seasons and will see its first action since winning gold at Eastern Sprints in Saturday morning's heats. Oarsmen from the unbeaten second varsity eight will form a lightweight four. The Harvard heavyweight crew and Radcliffe lightweight crew are also competing for national titles this weekend in Camden.
Cox: Angela Chang, 8: Matt O'Leary, 7: Austin Meyer, 6: Will Newell, 5: Erich Schultze, 4: Tim Moore, 3: Andrew Trott, 2: Jared Dourdevelle, 1: Tom Nesel
Cox: Alex Saal, 4: Florian Mayr, 3: Alex Newell, 2: Stuart Taylor, 1: Nicholas Gates
A bronze-medal finish by the lightweight varsity eight highlighted Harvard's weekend at the 2010 IRA regatta. The Crimson was even with rival Princeton through 1,500 meters before Princeton held on to finish 1.9 seconds ahead of Harvard and one second ahead of Navy, which surged late for the silver medal.
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 30-0 dual-racing record and added eight other race wins and four gold medals at Sprints.
The Crimson won five of the six major races at Sprints, totaled six gold medals and claimed the heavyweight and lightweight Ivy League championships. It was the 13th time Harvard has won gold in both varsity eight races, a feat accomplished only four times by non-Harvard crews. The Crimson won five major races for the sixth time.
Not Done Yet
The IRA regatta marks the end of Harvard's collegiate season, but both the Crimson heavyweight and lightweight teams will send boats to compete in the Henley Royal Regatta June 29-July 3 in Henley-on-Thames, England. The Harvard heavyweight varsity eight won the Ladies' Challenge Plate last year at Henley.
Three of the Harvard heavyweights' nine official national championships have come at the IRA regatta: 2003, '04 and '05. The Crimson lightweights have won seven IRA titles. The only schools to sweep the IRA heavy and light crowns are Harvard in 2003 and Princeton in 1998.
Harvard's unbeaten varsity dual mark (9-0) is the 28th in program history, the fifth under head coach Charley Butt. The Crimson varsity is 19-0 over the last two seasons and 27-1 over the last three.
Avoiding Déjà Vu
Like last season, the Crimson lightweight varsity entered Sprints with a perfect dual record. This time, Harvard remained unbeaten, improving on its 2010 performance by one position.
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 and has medaled in four of the last five years.
Lightweight Varsity Eight
Six rowers are back from last season's varsity eight that earned an IRA bronze: Will Newell fellow seniors Andrew Trott (Cape Town, South Africa) and Jared Dourdeville (Marion, Mass.) and juniors Austin Meyer, Tim Moore (Exeter, N.H.) and Tom Nesel (Castleton, N.Y.). Angela Chang (Potomac, Md.) coxed the third varsity last season. Stroke Matt O'Leary (Westwood, Mass.) and five-seat Erich Schultze (Foxboro, Mass.) were part of the Crimson's 10-0 freshman boat last season.
Each athlete in the boat was named first-team All-Ivy League. O'Leary and Schultze have never lost a collegiate dual race, and none of the varsity eight oarsmen have lost a dual race in the last two seasons.