Sprints give men's crew final tune-up before nationals

by Asa Tapley | 5/22/02 5:00am

Dartmouth's second freshman lightweight eight had the best performance at Sunday's Eastern Sprints Regatta at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., taking fourth place in the Grand Final. The Varsity crews had respectable races, but were unable to prevail against a strong field of competitors.

After qualifying for the Grand Final in the morning heat, the second freshman boat beat the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University with a time of 6:54.23 down the 2,000-meter course, but was unable to maintain contact with the Naval Academy, Cornell University and Harvard University, who claimed the top three spots, respectively.

The sixth-ranked second varsity lightweight boat also qualified for the Grand Final, recovering from a crab at 300 meters to go. In the final, however, the rowers gradually gave up seats to their competitors after a strong first 500 meters, finishing sixth with a time of 6:07.19.

"We took a solid move at the 1,000-[meter mark]," John Hertzer '04 said. "But it was not enough to get within striking distance of Harvard, the next closest crew."

While no other crews qualified for Grand Finals, Dartmouth eights won three Petite Finals: the first freshman heavyweights, the second varsity heavyweights and the first varsity lightweights. The first varsity heavyweights and first freshman lightweights finished second and third, respectively in their Petite Finals.

The second varsity heavyweight boat, seeded ninth, almost caused an upset in the heats when the crew led third-ranked Princeton University through half the heat and missed qualifying for the Grand Finals by a mere second, behind Princeton and fourth-ranked Northeastern University.

"At 1,000-[meters] down, Princeton took a big move, making up three seats and eventually moving out ahead of Northeastern," Jared Klarquist '03 said. "Our sprint was characteristically fast, but we only made up about two seats on Northeastern, who ended up two or three seats up on us."

Despite the disappointing heat -- the second Varsity heavyweights' fourth season loss by less than two seconds -- they rallied in the afternoon to win the Petite Final and beat Yale by almost a boat length, a team that had defeated them earlier in the season.

After a strong season with several close races, the defending silver medallist and fifth-ranked varsity lightweight eight was upset by Rutgers University's strong performance in the morning heats, finishing fourth and failing to clinch a berth in the Grand Final.

"It was all very close," lightweight captain Ty Garland said after the race. "By 1,250 they [Rutgers] were up three seats We started our sprint a little earlier than usual to try to catch Rutgers and ended up making up a few seats, but it just wasn't enough."

The eighth-ranked Rutgers edged out the first varsity lights by .12 seconds, with a time of 5:55.98 to Dartmouth's 5:56.1.

In the afternoon Petite Final the varsity lightweights had some vindication when they beat out Georgetown University to win the race and thereby qualify for the National Championships in June.

Despite having failed to qualify for the Grand Final in their morning heats, the first varsity heavyweights demonstrated poised and aggressive racing as they defeated Brown University in the afternoon. The eighth-ranked varsity eight finished second in the Petite Final with a time of 5:50.32, defeating by a boat length seventh-ranked Brown, to whom the crew suffered an early-season loss. Navy won with a time of 5:49.14

"Nobody in the boat had ever beaten Brown before, so when we started to move halfway through the race, I think it was driven by a hunger to finally dig into those guys," Jay Conner '03 said.

"They got up on us along with everybody else on the start, but we just kind of hung with them through the thousand and then we started smelling blood and made our move."

The first varsity lightweights and the first and second varsity heavyweights are now back in training, preparing for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association's National Championship on Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J., which runs May 30 through June 1.

The Dartmouth crews expect to build off their experience this past weekend and reverse their fortunes at Nationals.

"The results weren't what we had hoped for, but we raced our race and were able to beat a lot of great crews," Garland said. "Two weeks from now we'll see a lot of the same crews. They have peaked and will be spinning their wheels over the next couple weeks, but we know what we have to do to put ourselves in the position for a medal. And we'll do just that."