This spring, the heavyweight crew returns to Cayuga Inlet with some extra enthusiasm. With an impressive fall season under their belts, the oarsmen are anxious to see if the rigors of winter training have paid off.
“I think everyone is very anxious to get out on the water and actually see how fast the boats can go,” said head coach Dan Roock. “We’ve done all this indoor training, and it’s just time to watch it happen.”
In October, the heavies participated in a trio of regattas — with promising results. At the prestigious Head of the Charles, they came in tenth in the elite race. Although the finish was down one spot from last year, the proximity of their time to that of the winning team’s spoke to their improvement.
“This past year, for the first time in I don’t know how long, we were within five percent of the winning time,”said Roock. “We were pretty excited for that. It bodes well.”
The following weekend, the rowers took on a strictly collegiate field at the Princeton Chase. Cornell marked itself as a force to be reckoned with, its first boat finishing just two seconds behind Princeton, Cornell’s most formidable opponent.
The JV and 3V boats had very strong finishes as well.
“What’s exciting about this group, besides the fact that our first boat is pretty fast, is that we go three boats deep, and they’re all pretty good,” said Roock.
The dynamics of the team this year may indicate a rowing superpower in the making. The group has a very strong senior class returning under the leadership of senior commodore Ken Davies. Roock is also anticipating a large contribution from his junior and sophomore rowers.
“There’s a nice balance between experience and youth,” said Roock.
This year, Roock has switched up winter training a bit, deciding that fluctuating between intense and recuperative workouts may have caused his rowers needless trauma and injury in the past.
“We haven’t done a lot of erg testing this year, we just do a lot of training. It’s a bit of a departure from the norm, and I think it’s worked out. It’s been a less stressful winter training,” Roock said.
He admits there is one caveat to this workout program — the members of the team have to be extremely self-motivated.
“The reason we’ve been able to train like this is because I trust the athleticism and the commitment of this team. I have faith that when the time comes for these guys to really push themselves, they will,” said Roock.
Cornell has established itself as one of the premier collegiate heavyweight rowing programs in the last couple of years. Four years ago at nationals, it couldn’t even break into the petite finals. But last year at IRAs, it blew away the field, taking fourth in the national championship regatta.
“That was the best we have done in a long time. The amount of speed we were able to generate by the end of the year kind of surprised people.
“All but two of the guys from that boat are back, so there’s a much higher expectation for the group this year,” Roock added.
Davies knows what he and his team have to do if they want to live up to that expectation.
“We have returned the majority of last year’s fourth-place crew, but we can’t rest upon that fact. We have a strong team, but that does not mean that we will do well; it means we have the ability to do well.
“Now that we know a national championship is within our grasp we have to work that much harder,” Davies added.
Soon they’ll have a chance to see if all that hard work has paid off. The heavyweights will take on Michigan at home in the first race of their season on March 30th.
Archived article by Meredith Long