Watching the tape of one of his boats’ races, Cornell men’s rowing head coach Todd Kennett said he was impressed with the men’s power, but upset at their form and decision-making. Nevertheless, he was well aware of how well his boats had raced this past weekend. His team defended its grasp on the Goes Cup and Stagg Points Plate over Syracuse and Navy.
“This is the first time since [the 1970s] that we won three years in a row,” he said.
All three Red rowing teams were in action this last weekend. In addition to the heavyweight men, the women raced at the Clemson Invitational in South Carolina and the men’s lightweight men competed at Princeton and Yale.
For the men’s lightweight team, the varsity eight lost two consecutive matchups for the first time in four seasons. The Red’s varsity eight had been ranked No. 1 in the country coming into the weekend. Overall, Cornell boats won three of five races against the Tigers on Saturday and four of five against the Bulldogs on Sunday.
The No. 8 men’s heavyweight varsity eight was victorious on the Severn River in Saturday morning. For Kennett, it was one of many things that went right.
“To win four out of five is just a great overall team effort,” Kennett said.
In particular, Kennett was pleased to see “complete” races from some of of his boats. He said he saw improvements from the last time they had competed two weeks ago.
“For a couple of races, especially the varsity race, we had a far more complete race than we did at Harvard,” Kennett said.
Overall, considering the intimidating nature of lining up in a wide river at a place steeped in history like Navy, Kennett said he was impressed with how his team was able to put together good races.
“To get yourself to zone out … is a really hard this to do,” he said.
This next weekend against Nos. 1 and 3 in the country, Yale and Princeton, respectively, will be another excellent test for his team, according to Kennett. He said his boats did a good job not worrying about position and sprinting out of the gates at Navy, and this will be simarly important against the Bulldogs and Tigers.
“We need to make sure we race our boats,” Kennett said, adding, “[This weekend] is a stepping stone. What can we tweak to go even faster?”
In Clemson, the women’s team competed against a large number of teams, including several teams the Red does not see too often. Considering the level of competition, the Red had strong results, according to head coach Liz Dennison.
“With 20 teams at the race, and many of them ranked in the top 20 in the country right now, the atmosphere was extremely competitive and exciting., Dennison said. “It was also great to race six or seven boats across, which is a different type of challenge than racing just one or two other teams for both the rowers and especially the coxswains.”
In addition, the Red went faster as the weekend went on. Dennison said the team is honing in its form with the regular season starting to draw to a close.
“A goal we set for team was to stay internal and focused on our own speed over the course of the weekend,” Dennison said. “We can only control how we perform, not the speed of anyone else. The student-athletes did a great job with that, and all boats had marked improvement race to race.”
Dennison said her team is working hard to finish the season strong.
“Our challenge will be to remain focused on what we can do every practice to optimize our individual and collective speed before the end of the season,” she said. “Consistency and focus each day will be key.”