Harvard and Wisco are ready to heat it up.
In contrast to the 2002 season, where Harvard's Varsity was the known quantity and Wisconsin pulled the upset at the Sprints, it's Wisco who are wearing the bullseye this season. Since a split-second loss to left coast powerhouse Cal in early April at the Windermere Invitational, Wisco has been perfect, including a big win at home over Washington.
Harvard, also perfect, has raced through their regular season with stunningly large margins, including thumpings of Princeton (13 seconds) and Brown (16 seconds). Their closest race was the 2-length victory over Navy in the Adams Cup, so the Crimson must be seen as riding a wave of confidence on the way to Worcester. In addition, never count out the anger factor...judging by the somber Rowe Cup presentation last year, where Harvard seemingly could not celebrate despite winning two out of the three Heavyweight events at the regatta, the Varsity race is the one they want.
Behind these two crews, Cornell, Brown, Northeastern, Princeton, Navy and Dartmouth all look to challenge for spots in the Grand. Cornell's V has been quietly having a great season, with wins over Yale and Princeton and a close loss to Navy. Dartmouth, perenially a late starter due to wintry weather, has been gaining speed measurably over the last few weeks, their most recent race a 5-second loss to Wisconsin.
In the JV, the rankings have Harvard, Wisconsin and Princeton winning the medals at Sprints, though Cornell and Navy, both resurgent and deepening programs, may have something to say about that.
At the Freshman level, Harvard is still smarting from a 4-second loss to Princeton and will be looking for revenge at Worcester. The Tiger's Frosh performance is the best news in the Princeton boathouse these days, and a win at Sprints would certainly give that squad a good bump in confidence going into the IRAs. Brown, Wisconsin and Cornell are also very much on the scene in the Freshman event.
It's May, and almost everybody is fast. Between lane draws and folks finding something extra during Sprints week, Sunday morning's heats ought to be, for lack of a better word, real heaters.