If you blinked, you might have missed the photo finish in men’s heavyweight rowing between Cornell and Penn this weekend in Ithaca at the Madeira Cup. The three-team race between No. 12 Red, No. 14 Penn and No.19 Georgetown came down to half a second as Penn outedged the Red 5:35.8 to 5:36.8 with Georgetown coming in third with a time of 5:44.3 in the varsity eights.
So, what made the half a second difference? Simply put, head coach Todd Kennett ’91 thinks it was a matter of Penn pulling harder.
“I think they raced harder than we did,” Kennett said.
Although the Red dominated in strokes per minute, the Quakers were able to take advantage of efficiency and started strong out of the gate.
“We were behind at the start, but we really found a nice rhythm,” Kennett said. “We were taking less strokes per minute than they were and we were able to come back to even and take a small lead at one point. Right there, we needed to jump on that moment.”
It was the Quakers who responded to the heat of the moment, as they responded to the resurgence by the Red with push of their own. Whether it be fatigue or whatever else, the Red was unable to sustain its momentum and the Quakers again regained the lead.
“We were very confident in our ability to generate boat speed, so at that moment we waited,” Kennett said. “Penn did everything they could and then some to push us back and they did. They took the turn and then they made a move forward and it a made a huge margin change really quickly.”
By the time the Quakers had made their final push, it was a matter of too little too late for the Red to make a counter of its own. The Red made its final push late, but came up short by half a second.
“We were just stunned by that and it took us a little moment to regain and as we got to the line we were able to close the margin down, from what had been move two seconds to the half a second,” Kennett said.
There were still positives to take from the close loss, as the second varsity eight dominated both Georgetown’s 6:07.0 and Penn’s 5:52.6 with a time of 5:47.5. Kennett was proud of how his time handled their emotions and hopes for a rebound effort as they travel to Worcester, Massachusetts for the Eastern Sprints May 13th.
“I think we pulled really hard, and we did an exceptional job at keeping our emotions under control,” Kennett said.