This past weekend was a success for Cornell rowing. On Saturday, the men’s lightweight rowing team secured the Matthews Trophy and the Leonard Cup, sweeping the competition at its second home meet of the spring season. Meanwhile, the women’s rowing team competed at the Saratoga Duels and earned five top-two finishes.
This weekend marked the women’s second return to competition since the start of the spring season. The Red took to the water with renewed energy, eyeing the chance to earn the Cayuga and Class of 1975 cups.
In the race for the Class of 1975 Cup, the Red’s varsity eight raced against Harvard, Princeton and Bucknell, finishing fourth with a time of 6:59.97. The cup was awarded to the Tigers, its winning time clocking in at 6:26.06.
Later on in the day, the Red took on Yale and Bucknell for the Cayuga Cup, taking third place with a time of 7:08.05. The Bulldogs won the cup with a time of 6:40.05.
In the remaining races, the Red managed to place well, but many of its times failed to match the competitive edge demonstrated by other Ivy League teams.
Women’s Head Coach Steve Coppola stated that the team took this weekend’s competitions as an opportunity to see where the Red will stack up next to some of the harder competitors in the league, particularly Princeton and Yale.
“I thought it was great,” Coppola said. “We’re going up against top flight competition in women’s rowing. It’s great to have an opportunity to measure ourselves against not only them but everyone else that they wind up racing. We can really see where we stack up and the more racing you do, the more complete the picture gets.”
Coppola also remarked that the Red has demonstrated some improvement since its last set of races, which were marked by a struggle to return to high levels of competition.
“We definitely showed that we were making some gains in the middle team,” Coppola said. “This weekend was a chance to show some good depth and we bought it up.”
The men’s lightweight rowing team also found success last weekend. The races, held on the Red’s home waters of Cayuga, were dominated by Cornell, with the team securing first place titles in all three races against Penn.
Cornell’s fastest time was clocked in the first Varsity 8, buzzing in at 5:45, four seconds ahead of the Penn Quakers.
Men’s Lightweight Head Coach Christopher Kerber noted that the team was pleased with the weekend’s results and grateful for the opportunity to race again, especially considering the lengthy break the Red had from competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A sweep of any squad is not very common in our league. Races are won and lost by a foot or two,” Kerber wrote in an email to the Sun. “Our success on Cayuga was very special for two reasons: both trophies are engraved with ‘No Race’ for the 2020 and 2021, meaning we have not raced the Matthews Trophy and Leonard Cup in three years (since 2019) and two senior classes did not get to race with a ‘C’ on their chest in their senior year and be a part of an 80+ year tradition.”
Kerber also noted that the hard-fought wins are especially important considering Penn’s high levels of competition and rigor.
“Kicking off a very long-awaited season with a formidable opponent like the Penn Quakers definitely held our attention before and during the race,” Kerber wrote. “It was no surprise that the Quakers delivered tenacious racing, which underscored how pleased we are with our results. They ‘bring it’ to every race and are especially impactful at the end of the season. They keep a lot of us awake at night.”
In the meantime, both the men’s and women’s teams are looking ahead to their upcoming matchups.
In two weeks, the women’s team will face off in the Parents Plate and Dunn Bowl against Dartmouth and Brown, held in Ithaca. Coppola expressed the team’s enthusiasm for racing at their home turf again.
“It’s been a while since we hosted on campus,” Coppola said. “There will be some special moments and senior recognition. Hopefully the team puts the word out and it’s a beautiful day so we can draw some other friends down and cheer us on. I’m not sure how it’ll go with Brown but it’s going to be a fun day. I am hoping we can overwhelm the other teams with a good crowd.”
Next weekend, the men’s lightweight team will travel to Princeton to battle the Tigers for the Platt Cup.
“Racing the Princeton Tigers is always a hard-fought battle,” Kerber wrote. “When the starting command is given, the team will give six minutes of highly focused, extremely intense physical exertion. It is not uncommon to have two 8 man crews racing side by side and be two feet up or two feet down for the entire length of the 2000-meter course. But, I am confident that we will be ready.”