March 31, 2008

Rowing Teams Find Success on Both Coasts

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Though racing on opposite sides of the country, the men’s lightweight and heavyweight rowing teams did share one thing this past weekend — success. The men’s lightweight team spent Saturday morning and afternoon racing several heavyweight teams at the Ithaca Invitational, and dominated the Cayuga inlet by handily defeating all competition. The heavweights also rowed tough against some of the highest-ranked crews in the country.
Despite a huge margin of victory, the lightweight rowers found room for improvement in their first team effort of the season.
“We had a decent race in the morning but the conditions were really rough, it was cold, and it was the first race of the year so we kind of just tried to be as relaxed as possible,” said junior Mike Gavalas. “It wasn’t our best race and we won by a lot so it was hard to stay motivated.”
After the morning race, the team caught a few hours of rest before returning to the water with a different strategy.[img_assist|nid=29286|title=1, 2, 3, pull|desc=The men’s lightweight crew dominated Saturday at the Ithaca Invite.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“The second race in the afternoon, we knew that we had to race really hard off the start and get a big lead,” Gavalas said. “Once we had a good lead we could work on our own technique to get a good rhythm down. We jumped out pretty far ahead in the beginning and just focused on working on the problems we had in the boat.”
The men’s varsity eight consisted of junior coxswain Corrine Zappacosta, and from stern to bow: juniors Stefan Brabeck and Gavalas, senior captain Matt Kochem, senior Matt Russell, sophomore Raymond Fort, seniors Chris Bunnell and Billy Boyce and sophomore Nick Carbone.
After spending the past three weeks practicing with that same core lineup, the men finally got a chance to see where they stood in terms of speed and team dynamic.
“Both races were pretty easy against the heavyweights,” Gavalas said. “It was good, but it showed that we have a lot of things to improve by the time we have our next race. It also showed that we have a lot of good things going on now and if we work on it, we can get pretty good, pretty fast.”
The men’s heavyweight rowing team also found its fair share of success on the opposite coast at the Pac-10 Challenge in Redwood Shores, Calif. Although the men’s first and second varsity finished a combined .500 in one-on-one races against Stanford, UCLA, Orange Coast and Cal-Berkley, the margins of defeat were small against some of the highest-ranked teams in the country. Cal, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation, led the Cornell varsity eight by less than half a length at the halfway point in the race.
“The reason we went out there this weekend was to race Cal-Berkley,” said junior Jimmy Germano. “All of the preseason polls put them to be one of the best crews this year, if not National champions. The fact that we lost to them by five seconds shows that we have a lot more speed than we had last year at this point.”
In comparison, last year the men spent this weekend in Ithaca and lost by five seconds to a team ranked 30th in the country.
The men’s varsity boat contained coxswain Germano, and from bow to stern: junior Jason Malumed, senior Rob McCormack, juniors Andrew McLaren and junior Mike Rossidis, sophomore Drew Baustian, junior Warren Russell and seniors Pete Hearne and Preston O’Connell.
The races served as a good indication of the team’s current fitness level and ability to perform well within the span of a three-day trip to California.
“We are more excited now that the trip is over, even though we lost, then we were at the start of this trip,” Germano said. “We were on the other side of the country, it was pretty windy, we were in a borrowed shell and we still managed to perform pretty well three times in twenty-four hours. [Head] Coach [Dan Roock] took that as a sign that we are pretty fit this early in the season and it also shows a lot of potential for racing later on. When we have to race four times in three days at Nationals, we are going to be able to do it.”
In Ithaca, the second junior varsity won by over thirty seconds and both freshman boats were victorious.
“This weekend shows the depth in our program and we are eager for the rest of the season,” Germano said.