March 17, 2004

Lightweights Look To Use Chemistry

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The lightweight crew has high hopes for the 2004 spring season. Head coach Todd Kennett ’91 expects a vast improvement from last year.

“Last year, our record was horrible,” he said. “It took us a long time to figure out what we were doing, and set our sights on the same goal. [This year] these guys are letting me be the idea, then they go out and do it.”

The lightweight team will have a tough schedule. Larger races this spring include the Matthews Cup against Havard and Penn, the Geiger Cup against Columbia and MIT, and the Baggeley Cup versus Dartmouth. The Red, with only four seniors on the roster, will be facing much more experienced squads this spring. However, Kennett does not think this will hold the team back. In the coach’s mind, the lack of veteran experience can be made up for with other intangibles — among them team chemistry.

“What they lack in experience, they have together in team unity,” Kennett said of his young roster.

“I think having racing experience and confidence is one thing that is really important,” said senior Drew Tennant.

Tennant and junior commodore Colin Farrell are part of a core of upperclassmen that will provide leadership to the younger athletes. Farrell knows what it takes to win, having stroked Cornell boats to two IRA medals and one Eastern Spring medal.

“I want to provide an example of how to keep a good attitude and a good work ethic,” Tennant said of being an upperclassman on the team. “I want to show them how to not get distracted, and stay focused on your goals.”

Because NCAA regulations prohibits freshman from competing at the varsity level in crew, the Red usually races three varsity boats and two freshman boats, with each consisting of eight men.

The bright spots of 2003 were the crew’s undefeated regular season record of the third varsity boat, the 6-1 record of the freshman eight. With these athletes returning and moving up on the depth charts, the Red hopes to see the success of last year carried to the varsity level as well.

The lightweight crew faces the challenge of staying focused on the ultimate goal, which is a strong performance at Eastern Sprints and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships. Last year, the varsity posted a fourth place finish at the IRA’s. The Red earned enough points in the races at the Eastern Sprints to finish fourth in the standings for the Ten Eyck Cup. The first freshman boat finished first at Eastern Sprints in 2003, with the second freshman boat right behind them.

Kennett’s goal for the 2004 season is to keep his young crew focused on what the aspects of competition they can control, and keep from being distracted by the competition’s performance.

“You really do what you’re capable of in your own boat,” said Kennett. “You have to get the best potential out of your boat.”

The Red faces many long and challenging races in the next few months, but Kennett remains confident that Cornell has what it takes to build a successful and fruitful season.

“When you win, your confidence is way up,” Kennett explained. “If you lose, it takes courage and discipline to keep your eyes on Eastern Sprints and national championships.”

Archived article by Olivia Dwyer