April 13, 2007

Men’s Crews Stay Home; Women Travel

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The men’s heavyweight, men’s lightweight and women’s crew teams will all be in action this weekend. The heavyweights will be home against Rutgers in the Smith Cup on Sunday, while the lightweights will play host to Rutgers and Princeton in the Platt Cup. The women will be in Piscataway, N.J., tomorrow to take on Penn and Rutgers.
The men’s heavyweight crew is coming off a dominant weekend of racing in the nation’s capital, during which it won 14 of 15 races. The Red came away victorious in all five races over Georgetown last Friday evening, and then lost only to Michigan on Saturday, as it came in second place in a rare appearance in the George Washington Invitational Regatta. Despite the nearl-perfect results, head coach Dan Roock was not completely satisfied with the squad’s performance.
“We didn’t have our best performance, but it provides good information to see how the crew reacts under certain conditions, and we can use that information in the future,” he said. “We have a lot to improve upon, which you might look at as being a bad thing, but I just see these guys getting better and better.”
The heavyweights are favored this weekend in its annual clash with Rutgers, as they look to repeat as Smith Cup champions. The Scarlet Knights crew program will be demoted to the club level next year, in a controversial move by the athletic department. Though the Rutgers program has been hurt by the decision, the Red expects a tough race in unfavorable weather conditions.
The lightweight team will have its hands full this weekend with Rutgers and Princeton coming into town. The Red is looking to build on a stellar performance last weekend, during which it edged both Penn and Harvard in the Matthews-Leonard Cup for the first time in five years. Head coach Todd Kennett ’91 is expecting a fierce battle among the three schools for the Platt Cup.
“Rutgers is in a down year, but they always give us a good race,” Kennett said. “The [Princeton] Tigers are touted to be really good. They definitely have a lot more water time than us, but at the same time, I know we’re going to turn this into a race.”
Kennett also sees this race as part of a building block to bigger things down the road.
“Win or lose, I hope that we just perform well so we have something to work with for the Eastern Sprints and the IRAs — which is obviously our end-all goal — it’s everything,” Kennett said.
Senior captain John Ackerman says the team is fired up to race one of the top teams in the country. The Red is well aware of the talent that Princeton will be bringing northward, and seeks to capitalize on the opportunity that this weekend presents.
“Princeton is coming and we’re expecting them to be top of the line,” Ackerman said. “They’ve won all their races so far, which is more than we’ve done. Everybody thinks they’re ahead of us, so we’re going to race as hard as we can.”
The women’s squad hopes to rebound from a disappointing start to the season, as it travels to New Jersey to take on Rutgers and Penn. Though the results have been less than favorable so far, the women have faced some of the toughest competition in the nation so far in Yale, Princeton and Radcliffe. Interim head coach Hillary Gehman says the team is progressing each week, and is looking to put together a more complete race in Piscataway.
“We have a lot of room for improvement, and we are improving every practice and I think we’re much more ready to race now then we were two weeks ago,” Gehman said.
The Red sees Penn and Rutgers as teams that it is able to match up more competitively against than it has with previous opponents. The last few weeks have provided great experience for the women, and allowed them more time on the water to hit full stride.
“We’re building and improving every day on our race technique and our race strategy,” Gehman said. “We’re definitely looking forward to improving on our past two performances.”