March 28, 2008

Lightweights Bring in Young Talent

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Easily the most successful program at Cornell, the men’s lightweight rowing team launches into the 2008 season set on defending two consecutive national titles and a runner-up finish at the esteemed Henley Royal Regatta last spring.
“We are definitely stronger than we’ve ever been before. We are working on things and picking up speed,” Bunnell said. “I don’t want to make predictions, but I think we’ve put ourselves in a good place to do well.”
While only four rowers return to the water from last year’s phenomenal varsity boat, the team will have no trouble filling the remaining four seats with returning 2007 Eastern Sprint runner-up JV boat members. Some of the top returnees include senior captain Matt Kochem, senior Chris Bunnell, junior Stefan Brabeck and junior Mike Gavalas.
“Half of the boat is new, but we have a very strong class from the JV from last year coming up to fill those spots,” Bunnell said.
Successful races this past fall and quality winter training indicate that this year’s squad will be no exception to the Red tradition of championship-level lightweight crew on the national and international scale.
“There is a lot of potential in our up-and-coming guys,” Bunnell said. “We lost some important players but we have some people stepping up as well.”
In addition to repeating as IRA National champions, the Red looks to prove its dominance by claiming the Jobe Cup at Eastern Sprints. The trophy is awarded to the team with the highest overall score by tallying the varsity, JV, and freshmen crew finishes. For the last three years, the team has missed claiming the trophy by one or two points.
“We’ve always been very, very close to [winning the Jobe cup], but missed it by a tiny bit,” Kochem said. “To finally get that would be really big for us.”
With so many new men taking a seat in the varsity eight, this season was considered to be a rebuilding year for lightweight crew. Luckily, much of that rebuilding work has already been accomplished.
“Our fall results turned out to be really good,” Kochem said. “During our land training, we’ve proved to each other that we definitely have the strength to do it.”
With the inlet finally thawed, the Red will get a chance to prove its dominance when an exciting and promising season starts tomorrow.
“At this point, I think we have all the ingredients, all we have to do is figure out how to put it together,” Kochem said.