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MIT Crew Captures Donahue Cup

By Andy Hill

TEAM MEMBER

The varsity heavyweights took victory in the Donahue Cup for the first time this past Saturday in the final seconds of the race between MIT, WPI, Williams College, and Connecticut College crews.

The race, held on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, MA, was close from the start. Coxswain Craig J. Rothman ’05, 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) started out three seats ahead of Williams, with WPI down a length, and Conn. College further behind. Williams settled to a lower stroke rate than MIT off the starting sprint, and with a calmer rhythm, they found themselves gaining ground.

MIT fell to a length down by the midway point, but unlike MIT crews in past years, the varsity eight was determined to take the lead back. Said co-captain Cooley, “When you get in to a race situation when things are close, one crew will decide to just survive, and the other will do what it takes to win. I was proud that we were the crew that didn't want to just survive.”

MIT began to take back the lead with a big push at the midway point. They took back enough to overlap with Williams, and both crews traded lunges forward throughout the third 500 meters. In the last 500 meters, MIT took a desperate move in raising their stroke rate even higher, and finally found themselves in the lead again with about 200 meters left. They held on, pushing their rate to 40 strokes per minute, and finished in 6:23.3 to Williams' 6:24.2. WPI and Conn. College finished in 6:35.7 and 6:56.1, respectively.

The crew was happy with their victory, but, as coxswain Craig Rothman put it, “The race was close, too close for comfort. We have to work on getting out ahead and staying there early on.”

Though the Quinsigamond race has been around for many years, the Donahue cup only started in 2002, and has been won by Williams in the last two years. Thus, MIT is the only other team to win the cup.

The first freshmen eight, newcomer Sarah Lee ’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) were also successful in their race, barely holding on to an early lead of a length on the previously undefeated WPI freshmen.

In the last 500 meters of the race, the boat encountered an equipment failure, as Zedler’s feet came out of his shoes. Without being anchored to the hull, Zedler managed to continue rowing, and the freshmen’s lead proved enough to win, as they finished only four-tenths of a second ahead of WPI: 6:38.2 to their 6:38.6. Williams’ freshmen finished in 6:58.2.

Freshman coach Dan Perkins said “We really attacked the race and put ourselves in a great position to win. In the sprint the wheels started to come off but the guys held on for the win; I was really proud of them for that. We’ve got a big hill to climb this coming weekend when we race Harvard and Princeton at home.”

The other races were less successful, as the second varsity eight, manned by 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), finished second to WPI, but ahead of Williams and WPI’s third varsity. The second freshmen four, Alex Patriakalis ’07 (coxswain), Benjamin D. Wasserman ’07 (stroke), Ian C. Smith ’07, Zachary J. Watts ’07, Andrew J. Lisy ’07 (bow), lost to WPI with a time of 8:18.1 to WPI’s 7:53.0.

The heavyweights race top-ranked Harvard and Princeton this Saturday on the Charles River for the Compton cup. “For the next three weeks, we’ll be training much harder, without resting as much for the weekend races. We need to concentrate on our goals for the Eastern Sprints regatta,” said head coach Gordon Hamilton.