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MIT Men’s Crew Brings Alumni Cup Back Home

By Craig Rothman

TEAM MEMBER

Every spring, the heavyweight crew competes in 2,000 meter races against the most competitive crews in the nation in the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges, consisting of all Division I schools. This past weekend the crew raced against Columbia University for the Alumni Cup in Mercer County, NJ. Several races each spring are cup races, where the winner actually receives a large cup. The Alumni cup race began in 1977 and has been very competitive, and with MIT’s win this past Saturday, the cup record stands at 19-15 (Columbia-MIT).

The race was originally scheduled for the Harlem River in New York, but because of a Columbia scheduling conflict, Columbia requested that they race MIT and the United States Naval Academy the same day. Thus, the race was moved to a more suitable location for races with three boats, Mercer Lake, NJ. MIT, Columbia, and Navy raced together when all three schools fielded boats, but each race was considered as two separate races, MIT vs. Columbia and Columbia vs. Navy.

MIT began the varsity eight race with a strong start, going off the line with a stroke rate of 43 SPM (strokes per minute) and settling 40 strokes later to a high 37 SPM where the rate remained for the majority of the race.

After the first 300 meters of the race, Columbia’s great start put them ahead of MIT by about half a boat length. MIT stayed calm, focused, and began moving up on Columbia. MIT caught up to Columbia by the end of the first 500 meters and had a one-length lead by the 1,000-meter mark after having made a big push at the halfway point. Throughout the third 500 meters, Columbia pushed back and reduced the MIT lead to only half a boat length.

“When things got a little sloppy, around 1,300 meters down, and they started to catch back up, I never doubted that we’d clean it up and pull away. Ten strokes later, we did,” said co-captain R. Andrew Hill ’05. Going into the last 500 meters, MIT refocused, took the speed up, and finished a little more than a boat length ahead of Columbia. MIT finished with a time of 6:11.96, beating Columbia’s time of 6:16.0, thereby winning the Alumni Cup. Nationally ranked Navy (7) finished with a time of 5:57.16. Oarsman Michael P. Whitaker ’07 said, “As we reach our full potential, our crew has a chance to beat crews that the MIT Heavyweights haven’t beaten in a long time.” Following the win, the rowers tossed coxswain Craig J. Rothman ’05 into the lake, a tradition for the winning team.

Varsity coach Gordon Hamilton said, “We have a very motivated squad this year. The First Varsity was a brilliant win, but not a brilliant row. We have it in us, but this was not it.”

The members of the first varsity eight were from stern to bow, Craig J. Rothman ’05 (coxswain), John J. Cooley ’05 (stroke), Robert A. Figueiredo ’05, R. Andrew Hill ’05, John B. Miller ’05, Christopher P. Wodzicki G, John J. Bergin ’06, Alexander C. Ince-Cushman G, and Michael P. Whitaker ’06 (bow).

The second varsity eight raced the second and third Navy varsity eights, as Columbia could not field a second varsity eight. Off the start, MIT was down to both boats but settled well and held a powerful and steady rhythm early and kept it throughout the body of the race. MIT finished third with a time of 6:46.3, beaten by both Navy crews with times of 6:09.0 and 6:12.3.

Stroke Christopher R. Rhodes ’06 said, “I think last week [vs. Boston College], we did a good job of being persistent with good technique, but sometimes at the expense of a powerful drive. Not the case this time around... I really think we’ve started on a good upward trend. We’re swinging together and cleaning up the releases, showing signs of a fast and respectable boat.”

The members of the second varsity eight were Marcos I. Flores ’05 (coxswain), Christopher R. Rhodes ’06 (stroke), Patrick R. Buckley G, Adam S. Kaczmarek ’06, Ian H. Whitehead CMI, Harry J. Lichter ’06, Matthew G. Richards ’04, Benjamin R. Howell ’07, and Brendan J. Smith ’06 (bow).

The freshmen eight race began awkwardly for MIT because the crew was not prepared when the announcer started the race. Thus, off the start, Columbia was three-fourths of a length ahead of MIT, and after 1,000 meters of the race, Columbia had extended their lead to two boat lengths. Columbia caught a crab with 500 meters to go and MIT moved back a length, but Columbia’s lead was too much to overcome. Columbia beat MIT with a time of 6:26.0 to 6:39.7. Navy came in first with a time of 6:12.7.

Freshmen coach Daniel Perkins said, “Our guys were down early and fought back to a length of open down after Columbia made some mistakes. Columbia recovered, however, and we were unable to mount an effective sprint in the last 500 meters.”

The members of the first freshmen eight were from stern to bow, Monica Guo ’07 (coxswain), Arthur J. Franke ’07 (stroke), Jacob R. Flatter ’07, Martin E. Harrysson ’07, Charles W. O’Donnell G, Matthew R. Zedler ’07, Jose H. Soltren ’07, Evan A. Karlik ’07, and Dwight M. Chambers ’07 (bow).

The freshmen four raced against two Navy fours. The two Navy fours finished in first and second with times of 7:04.4 and 7:13.6. The MIT four came in third with a time of 8:25.7.

The members of the first freshmen four were from stern to bow Alexander M. Patrikalakis ’07 (coxswain), Benjamin D. Wasserman ’07 (stroke), Matthew R. Zedler ’07, Zachary J. Watts ’07, and Andrew J. Lisy ’07 (bow).

The crews are looking forward to their next cup race, the Donahue Cup, against Williams College, WPI, and Connecticut College in Worcester, MA on April 10. The next home race, the Compton Cup, will be held April 17 on the Charles River against nationally ranked Harvard and Princeton.

Assistant coach Daniel Perkins and team member Christopher R. Rhodes ’06 contributed to this story.