March 12, 2003

Lightweights Hungry for Competition

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Understanding one of Cornell’s crews might be made simpler if it was described as a math problem. Take 30 guys, all under 160 pounds, training intensely for nine to 10 months out of the year. Add that to an unbelievable amount of hard work and dedication, and the solution is Cornell’s lightweight men’s crew. The Red is back this year, hungrier than ever, ready to compete and win.

Head coach Todd Kennett ’91 describes this year’s team as a group of “unbelievably committed” men. Despite the cold weather all winter, the crew has been hard at work in Teagle Hall preparing for the season’s five regattas.

The Red has been practicing as much as NCAA rules allow, alternating between the ergs, tanks, and soon, Cayuga Inlet.

The weather, however, has not worked in the Red’s favor this spring. Rowers haven’t been able to get on the water all semester, but Kennett remains hopeful.

“Maybe next week we’ll be on the water,” he said.

Due to this setback, each rower must prove his “sheer power on the [erg] machines,” according to Kennett, in order to show the coach he has what it takes to be one of the eight men in one of the three boats. Kennett has 30 candidates for three boats. There is no room for slacking off in practice.

This year’s depth chart includes senior captain Mike Cody.

“Coach has done a great job keeping everyone primed despite the longer than normal winter,” he said.

Also, there are many talented freshmen. Kennett expects nothing but the best from his team, and notes that “there are some rowers who have had experience rowing with the Junior National team, and some that will probably row for the Canadian team.”

The Red’s competition this year is as tough as ever. Harvard won five championships in the 1990s, its most recent coming in 2001.

“Penn, Princeton, Columbia,” Kennett noted, “any given school can win on any given day.

“It all depends on which team is on that morning, which team has the desire to edge out another team’s boats,” Kennett added.

The Red has quietly been building up its team spirit and also improving its overall appearance for the upcoming races. The crew will only have five races to prove that it is the best in the league.

The Red’s first regatta of the season will take place in Philadelphia, where it will face Harvard and Penn.

The Red then welcomes Rutgers and Princeton to Ithaca for the season’s second race. Princeton is sure to give the Red a run for its money, and Kennett regards the Tigers as “one of our main targets.”

A visit to New York City will feature a regatta with MIT and Columbia. The Red beat Columbia earlier this year in a tri-race.

Dartmouth will come to row on the Red’s home waters, and the crew will then finish out its season by taking part in the Eastern Sprints. If the crew performs well throughout April and May, it should earn a high seed for the IRA championships at the end of May.

The Red will work to earn the respect it has yet to receive from the other Ivies. “We’re fast,” Kennett said, “and our guys have a lot of chemistry together.”

Archived article by Adrienne Dunbar