October 21, 2008

Crews Bump Bows With the Best

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The Cornell rowing program left Boston with mixed feelings after this weekend’s annual Head of the Charles Regatta. Known for its hectic crowds and challenging course, windy weather added to the other difficulties faced by the crews. On the men’s side, the varsity heavyweight eight placed tenth in a competitive field with a time of 14:58 for the 5000 meter course, just twenty seconds behind first place Washington and ahead of fellow Ivy League foes Yale, Harvard, Penn, Columbia, and Princeton.
“We were pretty happy with the results but we would like to have ended up higher,” said senior coxswain Jimmy Germano. “The start was really windy so it was difficult to find a good rhythm, but once we got into a more narrow part of the course we were able to hit our stride.” Germano and classmates Jason Malumed, Mike Rossidis, Mike Brown, Andrew McLaren, and Warren Russell, juniors Singen Elliot and Drew Baustian and sophomore Colin Smith rowed in the varsity eight. In the head-race style typical of fall regattas, Cornell managed to catch up and pass Penn one mile into the course.
“What helped us pass Penn was the fact that we were on the inside of a huge turn and our coach had outfitted us with a bigger rudder so we could make the turns faster,” Germano said. “So going into the turn we were about even and when we finished the turn 20 seconds later we were a length ahead. Passing someone is always fun, especially when it’s a rival, and it gives you a boost in the middle of the race.” Cornell was also boosted by the fact that several other crews collided on the curvy course. Last year’s national champion crew, Wisconsin, was awarded a two minute penalty for not yielding properly to Brown, while Princeton and Cal Berkley clashed oars about halfway into the race. All six Cornell boats managed to avoid any accidents.
The men’s heavyweight four, raced by seniors Jon Carroll and Chris Brennan, juniors Steven Bigda and Chris Frendl and sophomore Fred Braun, took sixth in a strong field.
The Cornell lightweight men’s eight had the highest finish for Cornell, earning fifth place with a time of 15:07. The Red fell to league foes Princeton and Harvard, who finished first and third, respectively. Seniors Mike Psiaki, Stefan Brabeck, Greg Fuoco, ad Kerry Quinn, juniors Nick Carbone, Ray Fort, and Matt Weiss, and sophomores Matt McManus and Kyle Traub competed in the varsity eight. The lightweight men’s four also finished well in eighth place with seniors Corinne Zappacosta, Justin Green, and Justin Fishbone, and juniors Will Miner and Matt Rung.
On the women’s side, an inexperienced boat and very challenging conditions combined for a disappointing 29th place finish for the varsity eight. Though the team missed an automatic invitation for next year’s regatta, the results hardly reflect the invaluable experienced gained by such a young team.
“The eight is a pretty inexperienced boat because it’s made of primarily sophomores,” said senior coxswain Michelle Colacion. “A lot of the girls are walk-ons so their race experience is very limited. At the Head of the Charles there are a lot of distractions and it’s a tough course, but it’s also really exciting. We definitely gave a lot of exposure to the younger girls.” Colacion was joined by seniors Cathleen Balantic, Kate Galligan, and Courtney Chisholm and sophomores Erica Crump, Audrey Ahlholm, Natalie Wingerning, Cassie Wolcott, and Alex Almeida. The Charles was also the first race with this combination of women and provided an excellent gauge as to where the team stands.
“It was a solid race but we are working with a new lineup,” Colacion said. “We got to see a lot of crews out there and how we stack up. We also know which part of our race we need to work on.”
The women’s four, with seniors Jen Phillips and Jill Greiner, junior Kara Achille, and sophomores Morgan Fletcher and Elena Siani, took 16th overall.
The Cornell crews will head to New Jersey this weekend for the annual Princeton Chase.