There will be no easy races for the men’s heavyweight rowing team this spring, but the crew is ready for the challenge.
“I felt very good after the fall and training through the winter,” said heavyweight head coach Dan Roock. “I’m very excited about our prospects in the spring.”
Roock is convinced that his squads have the potential to top last season’s success. The 2003 campaign saw the Red win the Carnegie Cup over Yale and Princeton, as well as a sweep of Penn to claim the Madeira Cup. At the Eastern Sprints, a prelude to the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships, the Red just missed qualifying for the grand finals in the varsity eight competition and took third in the petite finals. Cornell also had a strong showing at the IRA championships.
The team got on the water in early March, with the current focus on finding the best combination of eight men to put in each boat. The team will race three varsity boats and two freshman boats. According to NCAA rules, freshmen are not allowed to compete in a varsity boat.
“This is a good bunch of guys. The task now when we get on the water is to sort it out,” Roock said. “Fitness is the key element for this team. You need a big engine, but you have to be able to carry it over distance.”
Beginning with a race against Michigan on March 27, the Red will face a formidable foe every weekend. In particular, the team has its eye on the Goes Trophy, a competition against Navy and Syracuse, and defending its win in the Carnegie Cup. But even with these tough competitions, the Red will have to stay focused on the Eastern Sprints and the IRA championships at the end of the season.
“Those are always incredibly competitive,” Roock said. “It’s hard to look past those to the IRA championships, which are the main event.”
The Red will be looking to top its 2003 sixth place varsity finish at the IRAs. The top freshman boat came in fourth at the IRAs. Over 60 schools compete in this annual event. Cornell will be chasing Harvard, last year’s IRA champion in the varsity eight and the Ten Eyck Cup winner as the team with the most overall points.
“When your varsity makes the top six in the country, it’s a big deal,” Roock said.
But the Red is not resting on its laurels. The team has been training hard and is anxious to get out on the water. Teams in warmer climates than Ithaca already have an advantage, as the icy lake and cold weather has kept the Red indoors. As long as the team can avoid injury and stay healthy, Roock feels the Red have a strong season ahead.
The team will look to senior commodore Chris Bender for leadership this year. Last year, Bender helped lead the Red to an 8-1 record.
“This team is just that — a good team,” Roock said. “They’re working hard, they like being together. They’re hungry to get out and race.”
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer