The Cornell heavyweight and lightweight rowing teams will both be in action on Saturday and are looking to start off their seasons with winning performances. The heavyweight rowers will head to Cambridge to face off with Harvard on the Charles River, while the lightweight team will travel to Philadelphia to compete against Harvard and Penn. For both Cornell teams, it will be the first taste of competition this season.The heavyweight team will be the first opponent that Harvard faces this season. Last season, the Crimson’s varsity eight won bronze at the IRA Championships and finished in the top three nationally for the second consecutive season.“Harvard is one of the top crews in our league, and we’re all very excited to test our speed against them,” senior Jim Rectenwald said.The Red graduated five seniors from the varsity boat last season and have focused on finding replacements for those newly opened spots. While the new members of the varsity eight settle into their new role, four seniors will be returning to the varsity boat and will be providing the veteran leadership for those new members of the varsity boat. “We’ve been fortunate to fill those spots with some really talented guys. Our focus at this point is to mesh them into the eight and begin to build speed as a group,” Rectenwald said. While it is important for the new boats to find a rhythm in opening competition, it will be equally important for the Red to plan and be prepared for the weather conditions in Cambridge. Rectenwald noted that one of the key factors to the Red’s success on Saturday against Harvard will be the team’s ability to prepare and adjust to the environment they compete in, “It’s also important that we’re thinking about how to attack the race conditions: there’s going to be plenty of wind and chop on the Charles, and we need to be ready for that,” he said. The lightweight team will begin its season on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia against Penn and Harvard.The Red will look to take home the Matthews Cup for the 18th year in a row; the cup is awarded to the winner of the varsity race in the dual regatta between Cornell and Penn. The Red will also look to take home the Leonard Cup, which is awarded to the team with the majority of victories in more than eight races that day. While last season, Harvard edged out Cornell and Penn, Cornell finished in second and looks to build upon successes from last season.For the Red’s two opponents Saturday this will be the second competition of their seasons. The Quakers lightweight team swept MIT last week winning, the Varsity Eight, Second Varsity, Third Varsity and Fours races. The Red’s other opponent, Harvard, had similar success last week against Delaware, as the Crimson won the Varsity Eight and Second Varsity race.“There is always a very high level of competition in our league. We anticipate this and do not take any of our opponents lightly,” senior captain Taylor Black said. “We expect to have very tight races throughout the season.”While winning is the key objective for the team on Saturday, it is also the first competition of the season and will be used as a benchmark to gauge where the team is at during this early stage of the season. “Our race this Saturday against Harvard and Penn will allow us to gauge our early season speed while showing us the specific areas of our race plan that we need to work on,” Black said.
Original Author: Tucker Maggio-Hucek