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Varsity Crew Drops First Race Of Spring Season to Columbia

By Karl Richter

In the opening race of the spring season the favored varsity heavyweight crew lost a close race for the Alumni Cup to a less-experienced Columbia crew in New York City Saturday. Despite the loss by the varsity squad, MIT won spirited freshmen and junior varsity races.

Racing at slack tide on the Harlem River, the varsity team covered the 2,000m course in 5:54.3 while Columbia finished in 5:49.7. The Engineers never found their rhythm, and were unable to make up the slight lead that Columbia established early in the race with an aggressive start.

The varsity team had been ranked 14th of Division I crews in the US Rowing Preseason Coaches Poll. Columbia was not ranked.

In the junior varsity race, MIT and Columbia battled side-by-side for the first 1000 meters, with oars almost clashing. Columbia appeared to be working harder to stay even. In the second half of the race, the more composed Engineers were able to gradually draw ahead. MIT finished in 5:33.1 with Columbia following in 5:37.6 with a tail current.

The freshmen contest proceeded similarly with the two first freshmen boats racing neck-in-neck and grinding each other down, before MIT pulled ahead decisively in the last 600 meters for the victory. MIT’s first freshmen finished in 5:42.4, followed by Columbia in 5:45.3, again with a tail current.

Andrew Lamb ’02 said, “There are many technical things that we can and will improve on in this coming week and the next in preparation for the Harvard-Princeton double header. I think that it speaks highly of our potential that we could row so poorly on our first race, and still beat a crew with two EARC race experiences.”

MIT’s second freshmen (6:00.1) competed in the same race as the first freshmen and Columbia. Assistant Freshmen Coach Brian Smith ’98 was pleased with the performance of his second freshmen crew. “The guys raced well and hung in there. I’m proud of them for finishing so close to the first boat and to Columbia,” Smith commented.

The heavyweights race next on April 10 in Worcester, MA, where MIT will take on Williams College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Connecticut College.