May 3, 2011

Rowing Teams Look Ahead to Eastern Sprints

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While the women’s and men’s lightweight rowing teams were battling Dartmouth on Saturday, the men’s heavyweight squad had a chance to take the weekend off and enjoy a two-week break from competition. Although it has been a while since the team’s last race on April 23, the heavyweights are working harder than ever according to head coach Todd Kennett ’91.

“Rowing is one of those sports that’s not as much racing against someone else, but producing the best boat speed you can,” he explained. “We are making our boat the best it can be. If it’s good enough to win, then we win the race. If it isn’t good enough to win, then at least we did the best we were capable of.”

All three teams are preparing for one of the toughest, most challenging races of the entire season: the Eastern Sprints. On May 15 the Cornell teams will travel to Regatta Point on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., to compete against every other Ivy League school, as well as other schools such as Georgetown, Syracuse, Naval, MIT, BU, Rutgers, Northeastern and Wisconsin.

While each boat is essentially competing against itself for the best time, according to Kennett, Harvard is expected to be the fiercest competitor for the heavyweights. The Red has its eye on beating the Crimson, especially after losing to the Ivy rival by a margin of almost 18 seconds in April. Princeton and Wisconsin — heavyweight assistant coach Matthew Smith’s alma mater — are also expected to give Cornell a run for its money, according to Kennett. As such, the Red will be pushing itself as hard as it can for this race, hoping to place higher than last year’s ninth place finish.

“[The Eastern Sprints] is a big deal,” Kennett explained. “This is like the World Series in college rowing. All of the stops are pulled on this one. It’s all about getting it done now. This is the one that they will do it on.”

After Sprints, the heavyweights have one more race against Penn before they head to Camden, N.J., for the IRA championships; however, for the women’s team this is the end of the road. The Eastern Sprints will be the final race for senior co-captains Kyleen Parajon and Natalie Wingerning, as well as fellow seniors Sarah Kirsch, Erica Crump and Audrey Ahlholm. The women have been improving all season long, gaining strength in each race in which the squad has competed. Last year Cornell finished sixth at the Sprints.

The lightweights have ended their regular season, just like the women, and will travel to the IRA championships in early June, along with the heavyweights. Though the regular season has ended for senior captain Kyle Traub, the team’s leader is excited for the beginning of the championship racing portion of the schedule.

“The program is really excited to race at sprints next weekend,” he explained. “It is the culmination of all of our hard work we put in year round. We will be training hard this week, so we can rest, prepare and taper next week. The plan is to put together 2000 meters of our best racing.”

This season has been full of many experiences that have shaped the performance of the team at the upcoming Sprints, Traub noted, encouraged that the lightweights will compete at a high level as his four years at Cornell come to a close.

“As with any long term commitment, closing up my college career is a tough experience,” he said. “I have a lot of great memories, both good and bad, but the total experience is one that has taught me so much about myself and what I am capable of. It is an experience that I am sure I will never forget.”

Original Author: Lauren Ritter