April 21, 2010

M. Rowing Wins Race Under Tough Conditions

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Last weekend proved quite a wild one for the men’s heavyweight rowing team, as extreme conditions forced the cancellation of all but one race on Saturday in Annapolis, Md.

“As the guys made it up to the starting line the three head coaches were meeting with the referee out on the water, and there was actually discussion that we shouldn’t race,” said head coach Todd Kennett ’91. “One of the comments that I had was ‘We didn’t drive six hours not to test something out.’”

Indeed, the fifth-ranked Varsity eight boat certainly did its part to make that one race count, as Cornell eked out a win over Syracuse in a photo finish. Despite the Red having the lead to start the race –– one that extended up to 6-7 seats –– the Orange was able to come back and almost pull even.

“This is the part that I gave real kudos to the guys for,” Kennett said. “Typically when you lose your rhythm it’s really hard to regain it. The guys definitely regained it. They were able to fend and take a couple seats back and put themselves in a position with about 10 strokes to go that they were able to just get to the line in time.”

Cornell finished with a final time of 5:59.1, with Syracuse close behind at 5:59.5. Navy rounded out the standings with a 6:08.6.

“To say that … we were seeing the true speed of all the boats is probably not fair. What we saw was the skill of a lot of the crews to be able to deal in those kind of conditions and put aside the chance that they might sink, and just go race,” Kennett said.

With the victory, the Red maintains possession of the Goes Trophy –– its first time winning the trophy in back-to-back years since 2000-01. However, due to the cancellation of the other races, the Stagg Point Trophy was not awarded, which means Cornell –– having won the trophy last season –– will hold on to it until next year.

Although the second race did get underway, it was promptly canceled after a Syracuse boat started to sink.

“That was some of the worst racing I’ve ever done [in terms of the conditions]. It was definitely a wild ride. Finishing with four inches of water in the bottom of our boat was pretty unprecedented,” said sophomore Gardner Yost.

Despite the remaining races being canceled, Kennett mentioned that all of Cornell’s crews did get some work in.

“There were a bunch of little side races going on that were too short to be official,” he said.

The second Varsity boat didn’t quite make it to the halfway point, but was winning by the time the race was called. The third Varsity crew did short pieces in a little side channel–– all of which it won. As for the first freshman boat, “they found out they have some stuff to work on,” Kennett said, acknowledging the fact that the Red lost a couple of those unofficial races. “Everybody had something going on, so it wasn’t really an off-weekend,” he added.

Tomorrow, Cornell will depart for New Haven, Conn., to match up with Ivy League rivals Yale and Princeton on Saturday morning in the Red’s last regular season race.   According to Kennett, Yale has been really close to some fast crews, such as Brown, while Princeton was very close to Harvard before the Tigers had a bad accident.

“Last weekend really did a lot for our rankings. … If we’re able to win this weekend it would do some great things for us, setting us up to go into the Ivy League championship, which would be huge,” Kennett said. “This is a really big race … and even if we don’t win … we need to perform to see where we have to go to make sure that we’re ready for [the championship season].”

Original Author: Alex Kuczynski-Brown