Crew repeats as Eastern Sprints champions
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Without a doubt, it was a record setting day for Dartmouth crew at the Eastern Sprints Championship Regatta, held yesterday on Lake Quinsigamond.
Not only did the Big Green varsity heavyweights win the silver medal behind a semi-professional Brown crew, but the Dartmouth varsity lights, seeded first in yesterday's race, successfully defended their Eastern Sprints title.
"This is easily the best day ever for Dartmouth crew," lightweight coach Dick Grossman said. "To have first and second in the two varsity events at Eastern Sprints is an unbelievable accomplishment."
With the performances in these two races, combined with the results from the first freshman and second varsity events, both the Big Green lightweights and heavyweights finished second in the Jope Cup and Rowe Cup competitions, respectively.
The Jope Cup is awarded to the college scoring the highest combined total points in the lightweight varsity, second varsity and freshman races and the Rowe Cup is the heavyweight equivalent. Last year, the Big Green lightweights won the Jope Cup.
Dartmouth's moment in the spotlight began with the Big Green second freshman lightweight victory on Saturday afternoon. Yesterday, during the grand final in the first freshman lightweight event, Cornell and Yale took the lead off the start, with Princeton and the Big Green in a race for the bronze.
By the 500-meter mark, Dartmouth had third place locked up and was trying to move closer to Cornell and the Bulldogs, but the Big Red grabbed the gold. Yale finished second and Dartmouth finished with the bronze medal.
The second varsity lightweights qualified for the grand final where they finished fifth, but the real story for the lightweights was the spectacular races of the Big Green varsity.
Off the start, Harvard held a slight lead when disaster struck and the Crimson stopped dead in the water due to equipment problems.
Princeton and Dartmouth took over from there, trading seats for the first 1,200 meters of the 2,000-meter race.
With 500 meters to go, the Big Green held a three-seat lead over the Tigers. But Princeton did not let the Big Green walk away, fighting back to within striking distance for the last 30 strokes.
Dartmouth held onto its lead, but with 20 strokes to go, Princeton was still rowing strongly.
"It was a slug-fest because of the wind," lightweight captain Brian Crounse '94 said. "At the beginning of the sprint, we were strong. At the end, we were doing everything we could to hold them off."
And at the finish, it was all Dartmouth, winning in a time of six minutes and 30 seconds and only 0.6 seconds ahead of the Tigers.
"I never would have expected it," Grossman said of his second consecutive Eastern Sprints title. "I am still amazed."
The lights were unable to keep the Jope Cup in Hanover for another year. Dartmouth finished the day in second place, only one point behind Yale.
As for the Big Green heavyweights, Dartmouth's second varsity smoked number-two seeded Princeton to qualify for the grand final where they finished fourth behind Brown, Harvard and Penn, respectively.
But again, the story of the day was the varsity grand final -- this time for the heavyweights.
As expected, Brown took command of the race from the start. Harvard staked out second place and Dartmouth was fourth behind Yale.
At halfway, the Big Green moved ahead of Yale into third place and was closing the gap on Harvard.
With 30 strokes to go, Dartmouth was even with the Crimson and sprinted past Harvard in the last 10 strokes for the silver medal, only 2.6 seconds behind Brown. The silver medal marked the best performance for the heavies since the 1992 varsity team won the Eastern Sprints title.
"They knew they could do it with 500 meters left in the race," heavyweight coach Scott Armstrong said. "They started moving and when you go through Harvard, it's the greatest feeling in the world."
The Big Green heavies finished in a tie for second place with Princeton, and Brown finished first. But Dartmouth's second place standing for the overall heavyweight supremacy title was its best performance ever in that competition.
The Big Green varsity lightweights now prepare for the National Championships at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta, held in three weeks on Lake Onodaga in New York.
The Big Green heavyweights will also race at IRA's with the goal to close the margin against Brown during their rematch.
It was only three weeks ago that Dartmouth finished 10 seconds behind the Bears. Yesterday, the Big Green were within three seconds of the top collegiate crew and Brown, previously thought to be untouchable, is now a realistic target.
"We know we have it in us," heavyweight captain Fred Malloy '94 said. "It's just a matter of rising to the occasion at the perfect moment."
Yesterday marked the first time in the 48-year history of Eastern Sprints that Dartmouth qualified five crews for the grand finals.
In collegiate rowing, the races at Sprints define the season. For the Big Green lightweights and heavyweights, the 1994 season was the best ever in the history of Dartmouth crew.