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Lightweights Finish Seventh Nationally

By Erik S. Balsley
Team Member

The varsity lightweight crew team finished its season Sunday with a seventh place finish at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J. As the Regatta served as the National Championship for lightweight crew, the team's finish ranks them seventh in the nation and is the team's best finish since 1982.

The varsity boat, from bow to stern, of Kris Kendall '98, Dan Frisk '99, Erik Balsley G, Paul Oppold '99, Jean-Paul Folch '97, Chris Liu '98, Torrey Radcliffe '97, Garrett Shook '97 (stroke), and Joe Irineo '98 was seeded fourth in the nation entering the race and was hoping to improve on the team's fourth place finish at the Eastern Sprints in May.

In the morning qualifying heat the team faced Yale University, Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph's College, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. MIT lead all crews off the start before Yale edged out a lead they maintained for the remainder of the course.

The first 1000 meters saw a close race between MIT, Penn, and Cornell for second. Entering the final 500 meters, the Engineers and Penn were in a tight race for third. Although the Engineers made several strong drives they were not able to pass Penn who finished third in a time of 6:06.5. Yale came in first in a time of 6:01.3, followed by Cornell in 6:05.6.

"We didn't attack as we could have and should have. We let the race unfold without asserting ourselves," said Coach Stuart Schmill said,

Although MIT's time of 6:07.9 would have placed them third in the other morning heat, the fact that they didn't finish in the top three in their heat put them in the petite final. After regrouping the team was determined to not repeat their morning performance.

In the petite final MIT faced Dartmouth College, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the College of the Holy Cross in addition to St. Joseph's and UMass who finished fifth and sixth in their morning heat.

The Engineers was seeded first in this heat, and the Engineers dominated the race from the start. MIT quickly gained four seats on Dartmouth. After several strong drives they increased their lead to a boat length by the 1000 meter mark.

Despite some powerful moves by Dartmouth, the team maintained their lead for the rest of the race, and finished first in a time of 6:16.5. Dartmouth finished second in 6:19.9, while Georgia Tech took third in 6:22.9.

By winning the petite final MIT finished seventh in the nation. However, the team's time was the fourth fastest out of all lightweight crews in the finals.

"We were disappointed in our seventh place finish, but when you look at it, it was pretty impressive, especially in the afternoon petite final,"said Schmill. "We won the six-boat race, rowing the fourth fastest time of the day, for all crews, and were very aggressive and dominant. We didn't do that in the morning's heat," he said.

The team will begin their season again in the fall and is looking forward to improving on this year's results.