In the nearly 150 year history of the Cornell Rowing program, the team prides itself on its tradition of hard work and discipline, traits that both men’s and women’s teams will look to carry on this weekend. The men’s heavyweight team will travel to the Charles River in Cambridge to take on Harvard and George Washington University on Saturday morning, and the women’s team will stay in town to take on Yale on Cayuga Lake.
With the help of newly added assistant coach Alex Karwoski ’12 — who recently competed for team USA in the Rio Olympics — the varsity eight will look to sever Harvard’s win streak over the Red, which is currently sitting at six. The team will also look to continue its undefeated record against George Washington, with a 6-0 overall record.
“Coach Karwoski has been a great addition to our coaching staff this year,” said senior captain Joel Cooper. “He brings a huge amount of experience from his time with the U.S. National team and knows exactly how hard we need to work in order to be successful. He is still training hard himself so it has been great for the team to try and compete with an Olympian on a daily basis.”
Cornell’s varsity boat is a young one, with two freshman, three sophomores, two juniors, and two seniors, with only three rowers returning from last years varsity eight. Head coach Todd Kennett is confident that his team will work hard, but has some doubts about whether the team will be in sync so early in the season.
“We are very young, which is a huge disadvantage,” he said. “That said, this group may have been the hardest working group I have ever coached. Our downfall will not be our ability to pull hard, it will be if we can create rhythm that we can sustain throughout the piece.”
Kennett will look to his co-captains seniors Ilia Savin and Joel Cooper to lead the inexperienced boat.
“Cooper may be one of the most decorated recruits we have had on the team, [and] Savin is a man of few words, but his work example and ethic is top notch,” Kennett said. “As a pair they make a really good team to help lead the crew in a positive direction. I have been blessed to be able to work with them.”
Despite the lack of experience, Cornell’s varsity boat is a talented one. Last week, U.S. Rowing sent senior captain Ilia Savin, junior Finn Putnam and sophomore Ray Weeks invitations to participate in the 2017 U.S. Men’s U23 National Team Selection camp. Cornell is only one of two schools to be send three total athletes to the camp.
Meanwhile, the women’s team looks to snap its four-race losing streak against Yale. Similar to the men, the women will also have to out-pull a more experienced roster this weekend, with only two rowers returning to the varsity boat.
“There will be a learning curve for the younger athletes as they understand the competition and how to be mentally and physically prepared on race day,” said head coach Liz Dennison. “[However], we are not shying away from tough competition, that is the only way for us to get faster both within this spring season and also beyond as we move forward as a program,”
Dennison added on, crediting her squad for strong focus leading up to the race.
“Overall, the team has been doing a great job of staying focused on the process and supporting each other in the daily grind of training,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing them capitalize on the culture and environment they have worked hard to create as we head into the racing portion of our year.”
The men’s race will be available on the Ivy League digital network at 7:10 a.m. Women’s racing will begin at 9 a.m., with the first-varsity race beginning at 9:20 a.m.