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Heavyweight Crew Ends Season with Close Race

By Robert Lentz
TeamMember

The varsity heavyweight crew team concluded their season by traveling to Camden, N.J. over the weekend of May 2931 for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association regatta. The IRA regatta served as this year's Division I national championships, with the University of Washington taking home the gold.

The first varsity eight raced three strong races and wound up placing 17th in the field. In the third level finals on Saturday, the MIT eight finished fifth with a time of 6:22.02, slightly behind Rutgers University (6:22.0), George Washington University (6:18.8), Syracuse University (6:18.3), and Temple University (6:11.6). The engineers placed above Ohio State University (6:24.6), and Columbia University, The University of Michigan, and Gonzaga University which did not qualify for the finals.

The freshman four finished second in their third level final, while the open four and varsity four took fifth in their petite and third level finals. The regatta concluded one of the strongest seasons in recent history for the MIT Heavyweights.

Although the placing was close to the same as a year ago, the league has undoubtedly gotten faster and tighter. On any given day, one crew could beat nearly any other crew in the league depending on how well they were racing that day. Unfortunately for the Engineers, Syracuse had a good day in the third level finals, and avenged their three second loss to the Engineers from Eastern Sprints.

The varsity boating from bow to stern was Charley Able '97, Brian Smith '97, Mads Schmidt '98, Karsten Kallevig '99, Mike Perry '99, Dan Parker '99, Karl Richter '99, Robert Lentz '98 (stroke), and Jen Lykens '99 (coxswain).

Rutgers narrowly edges out team

The third level final started out with the MIT eight ahead of the pack with their characteristically fast start. After about the 500 meter mark, Syracuse, George Washington, and Temple had caught up to MIT. Rutgers then drew even at about the 1000 meter mark and then took a few seats over the next 200 meters.

Going into the last 500 meters, the Engineers found themselves down to Rutgers by four seats. That was when coxswain Lykens called the sprint. The rating came up and the Engineers started to move through the Rutgers boat. Unfortunately, the finish line came about one foot too soon.

According to Coach Gordon Hamilton, "We lost to Rutgers by the closest possible margin. In one frame [of the video analysis] we were about one inch behind [the Rutgers boat] and in the next frame we were three inches ahead."

It seems that Rutgers barely beat the Engineer boat to the finish line, but just as the Engineers were moving past them. This caused most everyone on the finish line and in the Tech boat to believe that MIT had won. "We have won a couple of close races this seas on over Williams and Ohio State, so I guess we found out they can go both ways," said Kallevig.

On the first day of racing, MIT placed second in their heat to Cornell, which set them up for a good seeding in the repechage which was held later that day. In the repechage, MIT soundly beat Columbia by 10 seconds to finish third and guarantee themselves a spot in the third level final. Because of the guaranteed spot, they did not have to race on Friday.

Friday night, the annual Heavyweight end of year banquet was held. The three graduating seniors offered words of advice to the returning oarsmen and recounted rowing stories. Able said that his "best terms at MIT academically came when he also did his best on the crew team." Also at the banquet, Lentz was re-elected as next year's captain. Parker was voted most inspirational oarsman, and coach Hamilton mentioned that it was very rare for a sophomore to gain that honor.

For all rowers, the 95th rowing of the IRA regatta turned out to be a success, and a useful guide, showing the team what should work on for next year.

Team finishes 14th at Sprints

The heavyweight varsity and freshmen teams traveled to Worcester on the weekend of May 11th for the Eastern Sprints conference championships. The Heavyweight Varsity rowed to a 14th place finish in the third level finals, beating Syracuse who was ranked 10th before sprints.

The Varsity began the day by rowing a good race in a close heat versus Brown University, Yale University, the U.S. Naval Academy, and Dartmouth College. The Engineers finished seven seconds back to a strong Navy crew which went on to finish 10th overall.

The varsity Engineers were disappointed about not making the petite level finals, but looked forward to racing Cornell and Syracuse later in the third level finals.

The results of the grand and petite level finals showed how competitive the heavyweight league has become. "There were legitimately seven or eight crews that could have won sprints," said Hamilton. This made the rankings going into sprints somewhat random. Fifth ranked Yale finished second and tenth ranked Syracuse came in last. MIT found themselves in a fast morning heat and had no real chance of making the petites.

In the third level finals, the heavyweight varsity had a good race, finishing in a time of 6:05.7 beating Syracuse (6:08.6), but finishing behind Cornell (6:01.1).

"Even though we rowed well in the first race, it was disappointing to lose. Going into the second race, we were able to get a good start and pull away from Syracuse in the body of the race which was good," said Schmidt.

The freshmen eight finished a very tough season with a last place finish in their final. Many of the freshmen will look forward to rowing in the varsity boats in the fall. The second varsity boat also finished last in their final.