April 15, 2010

Men’s Rowing Dominates Field at George Washington Invitational Regatta

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Three races in two days proved a non-issue for the men’s heavyweight rowing team, as all three Cornell boats swept Gonzaga, G.W. and Georgetown over the weekend at the 23rd annual George Washington University Invitational Regatta.  On Friday the Red Varsity Eight crew bested the Bulldogs by 21.7 seconds with a final time of 5:31.7 despite severe weather restrictions.  “It was just white-capping and when it’s like that it’s really hard to say you’re actually racing. It’s more like you’re surviving,” said head coach Todd Kennett ’91. Cornell’s second Varsity boat posted a time of 5:43.0 to Gonzaga’s 6:03.1, while the Red freshmen finished in 5:43.0 –– 10 seconds better than its opponent.  Saturday proved much tamer in terms of conditions, with Cornell’s Varsity Eight crew boasting a “ridiculously fast time” of 5:15.6. According to Kennett, however, the time was so wind-aided and current-aided that it made it difficult to determine just how fast Cornell’s squad was going.  The second Varsity boat followed suit –– crossing the finish line in 5:23.1 compared to host G.W.’s 5:39.4. The freshmen crew completed the sweep with a time of 5:35.0.  Cornell hit the Potomac one last time against Georgetown –– a team led by Kennett’s former coach, Tony Johnson. Once again, all three Red boats won their races by commanding margins, with the Varsity Eight coming in at 5:30.8. “[It was] the third race of the day that I started saying ‘Wow, this is pretty good time and under good conditions,’” Kennett said.  The remaining crews kept the winning trend alive, as the Red finished the weekend undefeated en route to clinching the Oliver T. Carr Men’s Heavyweight Eight Bowl –– awarded to the team that wins the most races over the course of the regatta.  Kennett acknowledged that the biggest thing his team got out of the weekend was progressively learning “how they could do more during a race.” “The first race where they’re just surviving, the second race they had to take some special moves to get away from G.W., and then the last race they actually were able to put something together from start to finish without even having another crew right there. They were able to get away from Georgetown,” Kennett said.  As far as the physical taxation of having to compete three times in a span of two days, Kennett mentioned that he thought the task was actually more mental than anything else. “I’m sure that they could get sore but I think they’re trained well enough that they’re probably not getting sore from it … mentally it’s getting yourself to re-peak and be able to go out and perform again. … We had the weather conditions that allowed us to get better, better and better so it worked in a really positive manner that way,” he said.  This weekend, the Red will travel to Annapolis, Md., in pursuit of its second straight Goes Trophy and Stagg Point Trophy. The Goes Trophy is awarded to the winner of the Varsity Eight race between Cornell, Navy and Syracuse, while the Stagg Point Trophy goes to the overall winner of the day’s races. The Red claimed the Goes Trophy last season to end a six-year drought and snap a three-year Syracuse winning streak. Since its inception, Cornell has won the trophy 20 times –– four less than series leader Navy.  As for the Stagg Trophy, the Red has brought home that honor 13 times, including two of the last three years, while Navy has won it 26 times.  “This past weekend was … a test of a lot of different challenging things … getting on the bus and getting off the bus and racing right away where you didn’t have that extra day to look over the course and get the landmarks. This [weekend] is going to be very much the same,” Kennett said.  Kennett mentioned that Navy can be a very intimidating place to compete, in that “everybody’s running around or in full-uniform and there’s a lot of yelling going on. Everything is done military-style and very unlike Cornell. Where Cornell’s all touchy/sensitive/nice, the military is not.” While Navy is known for having aggressive crews, the Red’s other opponent on the weekend –– Syracuse –– is also not one to be taken lightly.  “[Syracuse’s] Varsity is pretty hot right now. I think that they’re really good, I think they have a lot of speed,” Kennett said. “It’s going to be a great test for us to see [if] we have that speed at this point in the season and if we don’t what are we lacking and where do we have to go with it.”

Original Author: Alex Kuczynski-Brown