Spring looks like it has arrived in Ithaca. This means more than warmer weather, students skipping lectures to be in the sun or prospective students arriving in herds and sticking out more than a pretty girl in an engineering classroom. More importantly, this Saturday marks the beginning of the season for the three rowing crews.
The men’s heavyweight crew kicks off its season hosting Georgetown, with the lightweight squad competing against Ithaca College. Meanwhile the women’s crew will travel to Syracuse for the Cayuga Cup, a regatta featuring Cornell, host team Syracuse and defending EAWRC champions Yale. All three squads are excited to begin their seasons and look forward to seeing their months of hard work in the erg room pay off with quality performances on the waters.
The heavyweight crew begins its season with some uncertainty after losing 14 seniors from last year’s squad. This could be a cause of concern for head coach Dan Roock, but he views it as an opportunity for his crew.
“The people who were in the underling roles last year are in the leadership roles and it has been fun to see how everyone has risen to the challenge,” Roock said.
Georgetown will prove a difficult opening test for the Red, as the Hoyas are coming off a season-opening victory at the Jesuit Invitational Regatta two weekends ago. Roock knows that the key for Cornell this weekend, and all season for that matter, will be whether the team gives him a balanced effort from all seats on the boat.
“Compared to a lot of the crews that we are running up against, we don’t have that superstar,” Roock said. “We will definitely be underdogs in the physical capacity, but I don’t think we will be underdogs in terms of tenacity and racing attitude, which can cover a lot of ground.”
The lightweight crew faces many of the same challenges as the heavyweight squad, with a loss of senior leaders from last year’s national runner-up finish at the IRA Regatta. Head coach Todd Kennett ’91 has been pleased with his crew’s progress so far and feels this season can be full of accomplishments — once the young squad gains some racing experience.
Not everyone on the lightweight crew is a novice to the sport though, with junior captain John Ackerman and seniors Nate O’Connor and Andrew Diebold as the key holdovers from last year’s squad. These upperclassmen will be critical in the team’s success, not just for their own performances, but also how they help develop many of their younger teammates.
The Red will need these upperclassmen to step up this weekend, as Ithaca is coming off a strong showing at their season kickoff regatta last weekend, in which they finished second behind Colgate.
The women’s crew will travel to Syracuse to kick off its inaugural season under head coach Chris Wilson. The Red will look to show off the improvements they’ve been seeing with the new techniques Wilson has implemented. Wilson, former assistant coach to the 2004 US Olympic team, has been emphasizing the proper techniques with the girls, which the team has taken to.
“She’s a great coach and she brings a whole new standard to the program,” senior Shannon Caron.
Cornell looks for this weekend to set the tone for the season, one in which they only have one home race and will battle against a title-contender practically every weekend. This weekend will feature seniors Caron, Christine Yole, Sorrel Hatch and captain Alexa Olson, and junior coxswain Diana Athonvarangkul who will hopefully provide the Red with enough leadership and talent to beat out Yale and Syracuse this weekend.