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Eastern Sprints

Crimson are in clover

Heavyweights top Princeton, Brown

By John Veneziano
Globe Correspondent / May 17, 2010

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WORCESTER — Harvard’s heavyweight crew made up enough seconds to come in first.

The Crimson overcame defending champion and top-seeded Brown, their nemesis since last fall, to capture the title at the 65th Eastern Sprints Championships on a gorgeous afternoon at Lake Quinsigamond.

At last fall’s Tail of the Charles, Harvard found itself six seconds off Brown’s speedy pace. By the time the crews met again in April, the Crimson had cut all but one second off that margin. They got the rest of it — and then some — yesterday.

For most of the 2,000-meter grand final, Harvard forced its five foes to play chase. After being level with Brown off the line, the Crimson pulled three seats ahead at 500 meters, with Princeton a close third. That advantage soon swelled to six seats, a lead the Crimson maintained during a furious sprint to the finish.

“We rowed the third segment of the race extremely well and that gave us enough of a margin to get us home,’’ said Crimson coach Harry Parker. “That was a real test for us because that’s been Brown’s strong suit all spring.’’

Helped by a brisk tailwind, Harvard crossed in 5 minutes 33.01 seconds, with Princeton, which overtook Brown down the stretch, seven seats back in 5:35.51. The Bears (5:36.92) settled for third, followed by Wisconsin (5:39.21), Dartmouth (5:39.24), and Columbia (5:43.48).

“We tried to make Brown work, but in a race like this you can’t get caught up thinking about one crew,’’ said Parker. “You have to race the field and make sure you’re the fastest crew in the field.’’

Although it was the 26th Sprints title in Harvard history, it marked the first for senior captain Blake Pucsek.

“This result justifies all the work we’ve done since last fall,’’ said Pucsek, the team’s bowman. “But we never thought we couldn’t make up the distance against Brown, and we were determined not to let what happened last year [when Harvard finished second to Brown] happen again.’’

Brown did take home some hardware, winning the second varsity title by finishing safely ahead of Cornell, while the freshman crown went to Harvard, which pushed past Princeton in the final strokes to take the decision by .49 seconds. That win allowed Harvard to earn the Rowe Cup for overall heavyweight supremacy.

In lightweight action, Princeton finished in 5:41.12 to win its second straight Sprints crown, edging a group that included top-seeded Harvard.

Princeton also won the second varsity race and had a third-place finish in the freshman contest, allowing the Tigers to outpoint Harvard for the Jope Cup for overall lightweight supremacy.