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Heavyweight Crews Bring Home Medals from Head of the Ohio

By Karl Richter
Team Member

The MIT Varsity Heavyweights placed second in the two premier eights events at the Head of the Ohio regatta in Pittsburgh last Saturday. The heavyweights also won bronze in the fours race to garner medals in all three events MIT entered.

The Head of the Ohio is the second largest regatta in the United States, and is surpassed only by the Head of the Charles (later this month) in number of competitors.

MIT lead the field at the beginning of the Open Eights head race, starting in the top seed position. Despite the advantage, a strong crew from Cornell University (12:04.6) gained on MIT (12:11.0) to win the race by 6 seconds. MIT rowed to a strong second place finish, beating St. Catherine's RC (considered the top rowing club in Canada), Wyandotte Boat Club, University of Michigan, and twelve others teams.

In the six-boat 500-meter sprint, Cornell, finishing in 1:17, again nipped MIT (1:19) to claim first place. The heavyweights could not help feeling disappointed with the two silvers since the MIT boat contained six veterans from last year's Head of the Ohio eight which had beaten Cornell in both the head race and the sprint.

Coach Gordon Hamilton said "it was very disappointing not to have won the Open Eight. We went down there to win, but the upside is that if we had rowed as well as we can, we would have won."

The first varsity heavyweight eight included Shane Wu '99 (bow), Solar Olugebefola '99, Mike Salamina '00, Bernard Asare G, Mike Perry '99, Karsten Kallevig '99, Karl Richter '99, Dan Parker '99 (stroke), and Jen Lykens '99 (cox).

Hamilton picked his top boat based on weight-normalized fifteen minute ergometer tests, taking the eight best performers for the Head of the Ohio eight. The scores for the top eight this year are much stronger than last year, which suggests that the boat does indeed have unrealized potential.

Seven of nine rowers in the top boat are juniors, and a group of five juniors - Perry, Kallevig, Richter, Parker, and Lykens - are returning rowers from last spring's first varsity eight. As the squad gets more water time together, MIT's top heavyweight boat should be able to convert this year's increased power into racing speed. The eight had very little rowing time together in this set lineup before this regatta.

Hamilton said "it's very encouraging that we placed as well as we did when we rowed so poorly."

In the afternoon, the eight broke down into two fours for the Open Fours race. The first MIT four (13:53.6) rowed a very solid race to finish third behind two fours from Penn AC (13:38.7 and 13:43.9), a club from Philadelphia which often challenges and sometimes beats the U.S. National Team for the privilege of representing the United States at the World Championships and the Olympics. The Penn AC rowers were fresh and had not rowed in two previous events as the MIT oarsmen had.

Heavyweight Captain Robert Lentz '97 - the only senior on the squad - has been unable to row this fall due to a back injury, but he will recover in time to be a major contributor to the spring season varsity heavyweight boat.

The next racing action for the heavyweights is tomorrow at the New Hampshire Championships in Hookset, N.H. The entire squad will be racing prospective competitor boats for the Head of the Charles.