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Harvard wins ... with the greatest of ease

Ledyard — Steve Gladstone, 11 rowing national championships to his credit in an illustrious coaching career, responded to a job opening this season at Yale University, feeling the pull of trying to make an esteemed program even faster.

On Saturday afternoon, he coached the Bulldogs in the 146th Harvard-Yale Regatta, rowed upstream on the Thames River.

What Gladstone gleaned from the day was this: It's not easy to mess with what, right now, is Harvard's perfection. The unbeaten Crimson (7-0) won the varsity race by 13.4 seconds, finishing in 19 minutes, 5.7 seconds, and swept the varsity, junior varsity and freshman races for the fourth straight time.

"I think it's very obvious," Gladstone said after the race, back at Yale's boathouse in Gales Ferry. "Harvard is a very good crew. I think we rowed our very best race to date against them. ... There'll come a time in the future when we race our best and it's good enough to beat them."

Harvard captured the Eastern Sprints on May 15 and beginning Thursday will compete, as will Yale, at the IRA national championships on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J. The teams take a break in the midst of their sprint season, where races consist of 2,000 meters, to race the four-miler.

"All nine of us understand we should race tough, push them until they break," said Harvard junior Michael DiSanto, who competes in the three seat, of the Harvard-Yale Regatta. "It's a testament to Harry's coaching. Harry knows how to win down in New London."

Harvard coach Harry Parker is in his 49th season and has won nine official national championships. His varsity eights have gone 42-7 in the Harvard-Yale Regatta, including wins in his first 18 seasons as head coach beginning in 1963.

This time, Parker watched his team get off to a strong start, although Yale (3-4) kept contact with the Crimson and trailed by just three seconds at the mile and a half mark. By the halfway point in the race, however, Harvard doubled its lead and gained open water on the Bulldogs.

Harvard senior captain Anthony Locke, who won his third varsity title in the regatta, said the steady pace of the crew was more beneficial in the victory than was the quick start.

DiSanto and Locke were joined in the boat by bowman James O'Connor, Josh Hicks, Matthew Edstein, Nick Jordan, Jason Phillips, stroke Patrick Lapage and coxswain Chris Kingston. The Crimson featured five sophomores in last year's boat, including DiSanto, and four of them raced for the team again Saturday

"We had a lot of energy in the boathouse," Parker said of this season. "They've been motivated all year long and it's paid off."

"It's a great group of guys," Locke said. "We have a really good time but at the same time we like achieving our goals and winning races."

Gladstone, who won six national championships at California and five at Brown, juggled the Yale lineup this week. He moved senior captain Derek Johnson from the No. 2 seat to the stroke position and promoted a few members of the junior varsity boat to the varsity crew, including coxswain Francesca Yi.

Harvard won the 3-mile junior varsity race by 30 seconds, finishing in a record time of 13:38. That broke the mark of 13:46 set by Harvard in 2004.

The Crimson also took the 2-mile freshman race in 9:28.6, winning by 12.1 seconds in the first race of the day contested in choppy water due to a strong wind.

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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