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MIT Crew Falls to Strong Harvard and Princeton Teams

By John B. Miller

TEAM CAPTAIN

In Saturday’s Compton Cup, MIT lined up against two of the top three teams in the country. Harvard entered the race ranked first in the nation, coming off a win the previous week against Brown to capture the Stein Cup. The Crimson looked to be pushed very hard by a young Princeton crew, who arrived in Cambridge ranked third overall. Just one week before, the Princeton Tigers ran away from both Columbia and Pennsylvania to win the Childs Cup.

Like their opponents, MIT also began the season with greater success than that seen in past years. Two weeks prior, the varsity heavyweights fought off a late charge from Columbia to win the Alumni Cup for the first time in seven years. The Engineers then followed up on the win with another victory the following week in Worcester, MA for the Donahue Cup over Williams, WPI, and Connecticut College. Even with their recent success, the MIT team knew that they were in for a very tough race against a couple of tremendously fast crews.

All three crews got off to fast starts in the morning’s near-perfect racing conditions. Princeton pulled ahead early, opening up a slight lead over Harvard and a half boat length margin on MIT off the start. The Engineers settled right to their race cadence of thirty-seven strokes per minute after the start and their high twenty strokes. Unfortunately, the MIT heavyweights found themselves overmatched by the strength and technique of their opponents. Harvard and Princeton continued to battle hard as they pulled even farther away from MIT. Through a strong middle thousand, Harvard was able to able open up a one boat-length lead over Princeton. Harvard won their third straight Compton Cup with a very fast 5:45.8, besting Princeton’s 5:47.4 seconds by only 1.6 seconds. MIT’s boat of 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 Patrick R. Buckley G (bow) finished third in the race with a time of 6:22.3.

Although they did suffer a significant loss, the crew still drew on some positives from the day. When asked about the race, co-captain Miller said, “This is always a very tough race for us. I’m glad that we were able to close the gap from last year. We definitely have the ability to be a fast crew. By working together more as a team, we should reach our potential and really hit our stride over the last month and a half of the season.”

The second varsity eight found themselves in a very similar race to that experienced by the first varsity. Both Harvard and Princeton pulled away from MIT early in the race and continued to expand their lead. Harvard won the race with a time of 5:55.0, ahead of both Princeton at 6:09.1 and MIT at 6:44.5. For MIT’s second varsity of coxswain Marcos I. Flores ’05, Adam S. Kaczmarek ’06 (stroke), Michael P. Whitaker ’06, Christopher R. Rhodes ’06, Ian H. Whitehead CMI, Harry J. Lichter ’06, Matthew G. Richards ’04, Benjamin R. Howell ’07, and Brendan J. Smith ’06 (bow), it was their fastest race of the season. The young crew is working very hard in practice, as they build more confidence in each other and their speed as a boat.

In the freshman race, the number one Harvard Crimson showed their speed and earned their ranking this past weekend when they defeated both Princeton and MIT. The Tigers were about five seconds back of the Crimson, while the Engineers were well off the pace. With little chance of catching Harvard at this point in the season, the MIT freshmen trained through the race, even giving some of the first freshmen eight athletes the day off. Freshman coach Dan Perkins failed to dwell on the defeat but instead chose to look ahead. On the team’s outlook, Perkins said, “We need to get up to speed in two weeks, so we will take some time to hone our skills and learn proper rowing technique. This work should pay off later in the season.”

All the crews are training very hard through these two weeks without a race this coming weekend. The MIT Heavyweights will take on Dartmouth and Wisconsin on Saturday, May 1, and then Boston University and Wisconsin on Sunday, May 2. The MIT Boat Club and the UA will provide a BBQ following the Saturday race at the boathouse for crew members and the fans.