April 23, 2007

Men’s Rowers Win Four of Five; Women Falter

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Sometimes, the greatest pressure to win comes when you’ve got something to lose and have already established yourself as the team to beat. That type of pressure, though, didn’t seem to faze the men’s crew squads, who continued to live up to their rankings this past weekend. Currently No. 15 nationally (US Rowing poll), the heavyweights outlasted Navy and Syracuse en route to capturing the Stagg trophy in Annapolis, Md., last Friday, while the No. 1 (EARC poll) lightweights took first place in four out of five boat races against Columbia and MIT Saturday morning on the Cayuga Inlet. The Red women also competed this weekend against Brown and Columbia in Rhode Island, obtaining mixed results — a third-place finish and two second-place finishes.
The heavyweight rowers started the weekend competitions off in Maryland on Friday, turning in all but one first-place finish. The No. 15 ranked varsity eight, which technically placed third, actually finished almost eight seconds ahead of the second-place finisher Navy, and just two seconds behind first-place finisher Syracuse. The Orange was disqualified, however, due to an interference with the progress of the Navy boat. Still, the heavyweight squad refused to sink, and the 2V, 3V and freshman boats pulled through with first-place finishes, helping Cornell earn the greatest number of team points.
“We were happy that we won,” said senior Chris Clark, who raced with the 3V boat. “But overall, I feel like the whole program knows that we still have work to do to be able to pull out bigger wins.”
The Stagg Trophy, awarded to the team with the highest point total overall, was the heavyweights’ second piece of hardware earned in the past two weeks — the Red came away with the Howard Smith Cup against Rutgers last weekend.
In addition to the beautiful weather, the men’s lightweight crew had a lot to smile about this weekend, turning in yet another solid performance and almost sweeping its competition on the Cayuga Inlet on Saturday. The Red varsity, 2V and 3V boats won four out of its five races against Columbia and MIT. The only Red boat that didn’t finish first was the freshman novice eight, which finished second to Columbia by nearly five seconds. Amid all of the previous success and expectations heading into the races, the men aimed to stay focused on their own physical performance, as opposed to concentrating on the final result.
“With all the boats ranked first in their category, my biggest concern is that the guys don’t worry about it and make sure they’re doing their jobs,” said head coach Todd Kennett. “We want to really just perform the best that we can … [and] not worry about winning and losing.”
That mindset seemed to work. But the Red still isn’t resting on its laurels. Due to the lake icing over, the lightweights have had significantly less practice rowing on the water than much of its competition, and are planning on making up for that in the coming weeks.
“We still have a lot of work we need to do. There’s no question to me that we’re definitely the target now,” Kennett said.
Finally, the women took on Brown and Columbia this weekend in the Dunn Bowl in Providence, R.I. The Bears, whose first varsity eight boat is currently ranked second nationally, ran away with all of the races, finishing first in each by a margin of no less than eight seconds. The Red’s 2V and novice eight boats were able to garner second-place honors in their respective races, but the first varsity eight struggled, finishing last behind Columbia by a 12-second margin.
“Columbia was the main focus,” said senior captain Michell Furbacher. “We wanted to go after Columbia and stay with Brown. They’re always a strong team. … [They’re] very fast once again this year.”
Although not necessarily as triumphant as they would have hoped in terms of the first varsity boat’s third-place finish, Furbacher and the young squad are still keeping a competitive outlook and are focusing on how they can improve in the coming weeks for the important EAWRC sprint races.
“We’re going to make some lineup changes because it didn’t go as well for us,” Furbacher said. “It wasn’t necessarily our best race. Our stroke rate was a bit higher. So we got that up to where we wanted. We still didn’t go as fast as we wanted so we’re going to try to work on that this week.”