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Crew Teams Improve, But Can’t Win Despite Efforts

By Annemarie N. Grandke

TEAM MEMBER

This past weekend was a busy one for MIT Crew.

All four teams participated in races either at home or on the road. The Womens’ Teams and the Men’s Heavyweight Squad competed at home on Saturday against opponents from universities including Radcliffe, Boston University, Wisconsin and Dartmouth. The Lightweight Women and the Openweight Women also competed at home against crews from Radcliffe, and the Openweights additionally also raced Boston University.

The Women’s Lightweight Team raced a First Eight (Jeanna Q. Liu ’07 (coxswain), Laura C. Harris ’07 (stroke), Kimberly L. Harrison ’07, Shutsu Chai, ’06, Elina Groberman ’04, Annemarie N. Grandke ’04, Kathleen Yeh ’07, Cynthia Lin ’07, and Sarah F. Newman ’06 (bow)) against Radcliffe’s First Eight, which is currently ranked 1st in the nation. Radcliffe won the race with a time of 7:52.51, while MIT finished second with a time of 8:20.51, which was an improvement over a race against Radcliffe two weekends ago at the Knecht Cup, in New Jersey.

After having raced the Radliffe 8, the MIT Varsity 8 immediately split into fours, to compete against Radcliffe’s A and B 4s. This race proved to be one of the most exciting of the entire day, with all four crews very close for the first 500 meters. By the 1000 meter mark, the MIT A four (Laura C. Harris ’07 (stroke), Kimberly L. Harrison ’07, Annemarie N. Grandke ’04, Elina Groberman ’04 (bow), and Jeanna Q. Liu ’07 (coxswain)) was close on Radcliffe’s stern, and continued to close the gap as they raced past the boathouse. The MIT four put on an aggressive sprint for last few hundred meters, but in the end narrowly lost the race by 2.5 seconds.

The Openweight Women also raced against Radcliffe and BU. Varsity fielded two boats, eight and four person. Competing against some of the best crews in the nation, the eight (Ruth C. Catallo ’05, Lauren A. Jones ’06, Kathy E. Hufford ’05, Erin Matthewson ’05, Teresa W. Shyr ’05, Kavitha S. Ramaswamy ’04, Melissa W. Gregson ’06, and Kelsey Y. Vandermeulen ’06 with coxswain Jessica E. Chiafair ’05) had a good performance, but ended up coming third to Radcliffe (7:06.72) and BU (7:17.09) with a time of 8:01.80. The Varsity Four (Jaryn E. Finch ’04, Jeanette C. Fershtman ’04, Akua A. Nti ’06 and Veena G. Ramaswamy ’06 with coxswain Maria E. Tanner ’04) also had a good race, but came in last with a time of 9:17.24.

While neither team recorded any wins, team members and coaches from all Crews were nonetheless excited about the results of this weekend’s races. Lightweight Coach Buzz Congram said after the races on Saturday that “I continue to be impressed with the character of the Lightweight Women’s Crew in my first year of coaching them. Their determination to row better and to race harder each week is inspiring to me.”

Congram noted that MIT was handcapped racing a school like Radcliffe, where most of the rowers are recruited straight out of high school: “This is a young, inexperienced crew comprised predominantly of freshmen and sophomores who had never rowed before they came to MIT.”

“In each of our four meetings with Radcliffe since the fall,” she said, “we have continued to push closer to them and narrow the huge gap that existed in the fall.”

Senior Rower Groberman, a member of both the Varsity Eight and A Four, was similarly pleased: “It seems that just as with the Four’s race, we’re running out of room. With consistent summer training and new blood on the team next year, the potential should get converted into results.”

Both women’s teams will travel on Saturday to participate in the annual Easter Sprints Championships on the Cooper River in NJ.

Men’s Crews Fare No Better

On Saturday, the Heavyweight Men’s Crews faced tough competition at home against Dartmouth and the University of Wisconsin for the Crochane Cup. Both the first and second varsity boats had solid races, but ended up losing to these nationally ranked crews.

In the first Varsity Eight race, Wisconsin won with a very fast time of 6:17.3, followed by Dartmouth at 6:24.7 and MIT (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 Patrick R. Buckley G (bow)) at 6:45.0.

The results for the 2nd Varsity were similar, Wisconsin won by a fair margin ahead of Dartmouth and MIT (Marcos I. Flores ’05 (coxswain), Christopher R. Rhodes ’06 (stroke), Michael Whitaker ’06, 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)), which finished with a time of 7:34.8.

On Sunday, the same crews raced Wisconsin again and Boston University in the Jablonic Cup. With rough conditions for the first 1000 meters, and a gusting headwind howling across the Basin, all Crews gave a valiant performance. Wisconsin once again won every race of the day, followed by Boston University, and MIT last.

Head Coach Gordon Hamilton remarked on Sunday after the last race that “the last three opponents we have faced have been ranked” very high nationally. “It would have been nice to be able to stay with these excellent crews a little longer, but, I believe that we showed some improvement, especially on Sunday against Wisconsin and BU. “

“We are looking forward to our league championships on May 16th,” he said.