Each of the three Cornell rowing teams faced an opponent nationally ranked two or higher this last weekend. Although none of the teams won their respective varsity eight race, all three have reason to be optimistic about their results.
The No. 4 men’s lightweight team faced No. 2 Columbia and No. 12 MIT Saturday in Ithaca for the Geiger Cup. The Lions won a close varsity eight race for the Cup honors. The Red, who had been ranked first in the nation before a disappointing result two weeks ago, won the other three events handily. They have one more regular season event, next week at Dartmouth.
The No. 9 men’s heavyweight team took on first-in-the-country Yale and No. 3 Princeton for the Carnegie Cup in Derby, Conn. on Saturday. Head coach Todd Kennett ’91 was well aware the Bulldogs and Tigers would be tough competition. He said projections had his varsity eight boat losing by quite a bit more than they did.
“I think we did pretty well,” Kennet said.
Kennett said last week that he hoped his teams focused on their own race and did not worry about positioning. He thought they did exactly that. As a bonus, Kennett said that his team kept it close enough for his coxswain to focus on position a little bit.
“She made some calls to move up on the other boats,” Kennet said.
Kennett is pretty pleased on the whole with the strides his team is making in its build-up for championship season.
“Of the five boats we brought, four we raced really, really well,” Kennet said, adding, “That was probably my biggest disappointment that someone didn’t win a race.”
Kennett noted that the conditions Saturday morning were spot on for a great race.
“It was super flat,” Kennet said. “It was pretty fast conditions … That’s a wicked fast time they put up.”
Kennett is looking forward to continuing to improve in Saturday morning’s home race against Dartmouth and Penn for the Madeira Cup.
“It’s a heck of a good test,” Kennet said, saying that for ranking and positioning purposes in later races, “We have to win it. We need to have a couple of things get fixed this week.”
The women’s team competed against No. 2 Brown and Boston University Saturday morning. The Red lost the varsity eight to Brown, and the Bears will keep their paws on the Dunn Bowl for another year.
“Brown is currently ranked second in the country and first in the Ivy League so we knew that would be fast and tough competition,” said Cornell head coach Liz Dennison. “However, racing the best in the country is what we need to do to get an honest assessment of our speed — the coaches and team do not shy away from tough competition.”
Cornell was second in every race to the Bears, but as Dennison alluded to, her team has always had its eyes on the Ivy championship races in May.
“We set some margin goals based on previous races and other polls, specifically for the Varsity 8 and Second Varsity 8,” Dennison said. “Both boats were able to achieve those goals, which stands as a good measure of our progress and the fact that we are getting faster as we head towards the end of the season.”
It was senior day for Dennison’s team, and she is very proud of the Class of 2016. Cornell took some time after the races to honor its graduating class.
“The team took some good steps forward last week and this weekend,” she said. “We are moving in the right direction heading into the championship portion of our race schedule and are staying focused on the process of getting faster each day.”