Tomorrow promises to be an exciting day on Cayuga Lake, as both the men’s lightweight crew and the women’s crew will face off against the defending national champions.
The men’s lightweight crew will host Penn and Harvard. Last year, Harvard beat the Red by just three seconds, and head coach Todd Kennett ’91 believes this year will be even closer.
“All three crews are really seasoned,” he said. “There will be tremendous experience and depth in all the boats.”
This will be Harvard’s first race of its spring campaign, as the Crimson looks to defend its 2003 national title. Penn comes into this weekend’s race with a 1-3 record, but Kennett feels the Quakers’ record does not reflect the team’s ability.
“In the past eight or nine years, it’s been — can Cornell give Harvard a race?” he said. “This year is going to be a real barn-burner. Penn is one of the most underrated crews. They have a great coach and a bunch of speed.”
Cornell and Penn will be racing each other for the Matthews Cup, which has been contested annually since 1937. All three crews will compete for the Leonards Cup, a trophy awarded to the team with the best finishes in the first and second varsity eight and the first novice eight.
The Red will race three varsity eight boats and two novice eight boats. Kennett doesn’t think Harvard’s past success in the races will have any effect on Cornell.
“We haven’t been worried in terms of who we row against, but if we have rowed to the best of our ability,” he said.
If Kennett is right about Harvard and Penn, the Red will need all of its ability and speed this weekend.
“This year I think it will come down to the last 500 meters,” Kennett said. “It’ll come down to who’s got the training and the speed and the go juice.”
The women’s crew will face a similar challenge this weekend against Princeton and the defending national champion, Radcliffe. But, like the men’s crew, the team is focused on its own performance and not how its competition is doing.
“I can’t say we worried about those guys,” said head coach Melanie Onufrieff. “We’re worried about what we’re doing. We’ve been focused on making our boats faster and getting more boat speed in each stroke.”
Last year, the Red’s lone victory came in the second novice eight race. Radcliffe took the first varsity eight and the first varsity four, while Princeton claimed victories in the second varsity eight, the first novice eight, and the second varsity four.
While Radcliffe is defending its national title, the 2003 champs suffered a close loss last weekend to No. 1 Brown. Princeton is off to a strong start with a 3-1 record, and is coming off a comfortable win over Columbia and Rutgers last weekend.
But the Red remains unfazed. The team has remained focused on its goal of winning the Class of 1975 Cup.
“Both Princeton and Radcliffe are good crews,” Onufrieff said. “But we’re getting better every day.”
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer