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Crew Drops Cup to Columbia

By Brian Richter


MIT heavyweight men’s crew opened its spring racing season at home Saturday against the Columbia Lions. While only the second varsity eight defeated the Light Blue, the rest of the squad raced well for their first appearance of the year.

The second varsity eight are Melissa E. Light ’01 (cox), Jorge A. Panduro ’01 (stroke), Collins P. Ward ’03, Sidney E. Henderson ’03, Stephen P. Bathurst ’03, Patrick R. Buckley ’03, Keith W. Vanderlinde ’02, Obrad Scepanovic ’02, and Mark H. Jhon ’01.

The first varsity eight crossed the line in 6:11.3, a small margin of open water down to Columbia (6:05.7). The Beavers jumped off the line with the Lions and held even through about 500 meters into the race when the Light Blue began moving steadily away, taking a seat about every 250 meters. MIT took back seats during several planned moves; however, Columbia’s more experienced crew always answered back.

The first varsity eight are Jonathan L. Berkow ’03 (cox), Thomas A. Becker ’03 (stroke), Nicholas K. Abercrombie ’03, Joshua G. Kubit ’03, Martin M. Tolliver ’03, Andrew D. Copeland ’01, Jason M. Bell ’02, Igor L. Belakovskiy ’01, and Brian K. Richter ’02.

“We raced them really well and showed a lot of potential considering it was our first of the year and our boat has only been together one week,” said Becker. “Now we have the opportunity to train really hard over the next six weeks before we get them at Sprints.”

The Columbia varsity team featured six seniors who have rowed together for four years, whereas the MIT squad’s core lies in its sophomore strength. Columbia finished 15th at Division I National Championships last year and expects to do significantly better this year, as they only lost one member of that boat.

The MIT second varsity boat, which also featured a sophomore core, proved stronger than Columbia. MIT moved first off the line and broke free of Columbia early on. The Lions moved even just before the 1000 meter mark, but the Beavers were able to push them back to maintain a six seat lead. At 1500 meters into the race, the Light Blue moved a whole length on the Beavers to take a two seat lead just before the sprint.

“We all just decided to take the race back and make the boat go fast in a test of wills,” said Scepanovic. MIT crossed the line just fractions of a second ahead of Columbia in 6:24.70 to their 6:24.75. The margin of victory was just a few feet.

The freshmen eight’s race did not come down to such a tight margin, although the competition was fierce for the first few hundred meters of the course. The Light Blue (6:25.6) then proceeded to move steadily away from the Beavers (6:35.7) to claim victory.

“We rowed well, but not enough of the freshmen team took winter training or spring break seriously enough to beat teams like these,” said Stroke Sam Sarcia ’04. “We all need to dedicate ourselves a little more to the sport if we’re going to win.”

The freshman hope to claim their first race next weekend when MIT travels to Worcester to take on Williams, WPI, and Connecticut College. The second varsity hopes to win more comfortably there. The varsity team will work this week and next on bringing up boat speed for future league competition.