April 7, 2008

Rowers Find Success Against Ranked Competition

Print More

It was smooth sailing on the inlets for the men’s and women’s rowing teams this weekend, as all boats turned in competitive performances against some nationally-ranked competition.
For the heavyweight men, in conditions drastically different from those during last weekend’s races in California, nearly all boats came away victorious from a dual race against Georgetown. The women put their oars in the water for the first time since November at the Cayuga Cup at Yale, defeating Syracuse while losing to the No. 2 Bulldogs.
The men’s first varsity boat, consisting of seniors Rob McCormack, Pete Hearne and Preston O’Connell, juniors Jimmy Germano, Jason Malumed, Andrew McLaren, Mike Rossidis and Warren Russell and sophomore Drew Baustian, finished the 2000-meter course along the Cayuga inlet in 5:51.6, just over three seconds ahead of Georgetown. With preseason predictions placing Georgetown close to Cornell in speed, the Red entered the meet prepared for a battle.[img_assist|nid=29599|title=All together now|desc=The men’s heavyweight crew swept all four of its races against Georgetown this past weekend. The first varsity-8 won by three seconds but the third varsity-8 won by over 20 seconds.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“I got to the line and everyone was all jacked up,” said junior Jason Malumed. “Georgetown is a really fast crew this year, but we wanted to embarrass them.”
The Red’s strategy going into Saturday’s race was to take the lead right from the gun and just keep extending it through the finish.
“Basically we got off the line and after three strokes I looked over and we were already up by three seats,” Malumed said. “We were pretty happy with that. We pulled out of the start and basically just messed with their minds a little bit.”
Though Georgetown’s speed was just enough to keep the Red from walking away with the race, Cornell managed to hold the lead for a decisive three-second victory.
“We settled into our base rhythm and kind of let them sit on us for a little too long, which we weren’t happy about because we are a pretty ruthless crew and we just want to win by as much as possible,” Malumed said. “We still came out with the win, though, so that was good.”
The second and third varsity and first novice boats followed suit, defeating the Hoyas by 13, 20 and six seconds, respectively.
Beginning the competitive season with a fresh lineup and a race against the No. 1-ranked team has put the men’s heavyweight crew well ahead of where it stood last year at this point.
“It’s just our plan to start off slow and then we always get really fast for IRAs at the end of the year,” Malumed said. “This year with our Cali trip, we were kind of forced to have some early-season speed, which gave us a jump start to the season. Also, the team has a much harder racing mentality this year. I’ve had to change from techno music to death metal to get myself adequately pumped up before a race.”
The women’s rowing team is enjoying a similar improvement from where it stood last year, when a coaching switch gave the Red a rocky start to a rough season. At Yale on Saturday, the first varsity boat finished the course in 6:15.0 to defeat Syracuse by over four seconds. The defending National champion Bulldogs were more of a challenge and beat the Red eight by 9.5 seconds.
Cornell’s varsity-8 consisted of seniors Eleanor Bucholz, Sarah Griffin, Kim Kraemer, Julia Lippman, Delana Spaulding, Katherine Storbeck and captain Caitlin Mance.
“[Yale] always has a very deep squad and all of their boats are usually pretty fast,” Mance said. “Going into the race we knew that Yale was going to be a tough competitor.”
With Syracuse ranked similarly to Cornell in preseason standings, the Red planned instead to focus mostly on defeating the Orange.
“We were looking more to go in and attack it and get Syracuse right away,” Mance said. “We had them off the start and stayed with Yale for the first 500 [meters]. We had a couple good moves through the second half of the race and a good finish. We’ve made a lot of progress since last year, so it’s nice to see it play out.”
The second varsity-8, coxed by junior Michelle Colacion and stroked by junior Kate Galligan, was also second to Yale. The women defeated the Orange by a margin that puts them forty seconds ahead of where they were last year.
“They were pretty happy with their margin [of victory] as well,” Mance said. “They switched their lineup two days ago so they hadn’t had much time in that lineup and it went pretty well. They were able to hold a steady 33 [stroke speed], which is good.”
The novice women’s varsity eight was the most victorious boat of the day, defeating both Syracuse and Yale with a time of 6:30.3.
“The freshmen did really well, we were excited for them,” Mance said. “They put in a lot of hard work this fall and the coaching has done them a lot of good. They got off the start ahead and maintained their lead through the whole thing and even lengthened it out, so that was really good for them.”
Perhaps the most obvious contributor to the women’s improvement is the coaching. Head coach Hilary Gehman stepped in suddenly last year after the season had begun.
“A lot of [getting better] is that the coaching changes have been really great,” Mance said. “Everyone has been working a lot harder and I think sometimes it takes a rough year to realize what you have to do to build a program back. We’re working on moving forward and taking it to the next level each year.”