April 17, 2009

Lightweight Rowers Face Busy Travel Schedule Tomorrow

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The rowing teams will pack up their boats and part ways tomorrow as they continue to pull through April and steer toward warmer days. The heavyweight men’s crews ride to Syracuse, where they will race host Syracuse and Navy in hopes of recovering the Goes Trophy from the Orange. More extensive travel plans are in store for the lightweight men, who will make the trek to Boston for a morning engagement with MIT and Columbia on the Charles River before a second road trip south to Connecticut for a 4:30 p.m. race versus Yale. The women’s team will compete for the Raritan Cup in one of five races scheduled against host Penn and Rutgers.
As if a day full of contests was not enough to cause the Red rowers to jump for joy, plans for a new boathouse on the Cayuga Inlet were approved last Friday.
“It is definitely something we need,” said junior lightweight Will Miner. “Our current boathouse was built in ’51, and it is starting to showing wear. We mainly just need more space.”[img_assist|nid=36956|title=Look starboard|desc=The men’s heavyweight rowers will compete against Syracuse for the Goes Trophy tomorrow.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
So far, $8.2 million has been raised to fund the construction of the project. The Cornell crews will look to raise an additional $1.8 million to cover the remaining costs.
While news of the improved home for the Cornell rowing program brought much excitement to the Red athletes and staff, the actual house will not be ready for quite some time, and the spring season is far from over.
This weekend rekindles the 53-year-old rivalry between the Red, Orange and Midshipmen heavyweight rowers. Syracuse seized the Goes Trophy last year for the third straight season, but Cornell will look to reclaim the award for the first time since 2002.
“The Goes race is one that we look forward to all year,” said senior heavyweight Jason Malumed. “Over the past couple of years, we were actually ranked higher [than Syracuse and Navy] but somehow did not pull out the win. This year we want to make sure we bring it home. It’s a longstanding tradition to have these cups in dual races.”
This spring, the Red will once again enter the varsity-8 race favored slightly above its competition. According to the US Rowing Collegiate Coaches’ Poll released on Monday, Cornell sits directly on top of No. 10 Syracuse, in the No. 9 position. And Navy follows closely behind the two at No. 13, which will put the heat on the Red.
“Right now, our varsity-8 is just as strong and powerful as any boat out there,” said Malumed. “We will have to rely on our precision to put us over the edge of Syracuse. This week we worked on the little things. We have already put in the time and built up our fitness. Now we just have to focus on the details.”
Bound for Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, the Red will recall the taste of sweet success experienced at the George Washington Invitational last Saturday. On the Potomac River, the Red went six-for-six, shutting out Gonzaga in the first session and then defeating George Washington and Georgetown in the second session.
“We woke up and left Ithaca at 6 a.m.,” said Malumed. “It’s hard to stay focused after a long trip, but we knew what the job was and how to execute. In the first 500 and the middle 1000 of our races, we knew where we needed to be.”
Like Cornell, Navy was present at the George Washington Invitational last weekend, and what a presence they had. The Midshipmen took the regatta trophy for the men’s heavyweight category with seven out of eight possible wins. Navy’s second novice-8 was just second seconds off of the Georgetown boat in the morning race for the Midshipmen’s only loss of the day as they went on to sweep the afternoon competition.
“Our greatest strength is that we have a lot of experience,” said Malumed, “Most of the guys have been rowing with each other for two or three years now. This combined with the work we put in over the winter has us in good shape. We trained harder than we ever have before and as a result, we have more speed.”
The lightweight men’s team will head to Cambridge, Mass., to meet MIT and Columbia in a battle for the rights to the Geiger Cup. The Red will then travel south to Connecticut for a 4:30 p.m. race versus Yale.
“We tend to double up once a year, so this kind of traveling was expected,” said Miner, “Having a schedule like this will help in strengthening and preparing us for when we approach the EARC Sprints and the IRA Championships at the end of the season.”
Yale proved that it deserved its No. 3 status with five convincing victories last weekend that left No. 10 Columbia and No. 8 Penn in its wake. The Bulldogs added the Dodge Cup to the trophy case after out-pacing the Quakers in the varsity-8 event by a 5.2 second margin.
“Yale should be a good race. Last week we hit a rough patch against Princeton, so our focus is on trying to find more speed in the front end of leg drive. Physically, we are very strong and we just have to apply it to the water.”
The Lions and the Engineers may be less of a concern, but it is not the Red’s style to overlook its opponent.
Columbia’s varsity-8 boat trailed Penn by two seconds and Yale by seven seconds to slide into last place, while the Lions’ second varsity-8 and novice-8 boats both captured second.
MIT and the Dartmouth were the victims of a Harvard sweep last Saturday in the Biglin Bowl. The Engineers’ varsity-4 boat crossed the line eight seconds after the Crimson for second, but the varsity-8 and novice-8 boats finished third.
At Penn, the Cornell women will race against the Quakers and Scarlet Knights for the Raritan Cup.
Both Penn and Rutgers should challenge the Red on Saturday on the Schuylkill River.
The Quakers’ varsity-4, varsity-8, and second varsity-8 all combined to finish third behind Michigan State and Louisville in the Dale England Cup hosted by Indiana.
All three of Rutgers’ crews advanced to the finals last weekend at the Knecht Cup. The Scarlet Knight’s varsity-8 placed second out of six, the second varsity-8 took third overall, and novice-8 came in sixth.
The Cornell women, whose varsity-8 boat came within three seconds of Penn’s in 2008, will look to take back the Raritan Cup from the defending Quakers.