Lightweights victorious at Sprints

by Schuyler Evans | 5/15/07 12:19am

Big Green lightweight crew posing with both their Ivy League and Eastern Sprints Championship trophies.
by Courtesy of Camden Place / The Dartmouth

Dartmouth brought two trophies home in its triumphant return to Hanover -- the Joseph H. Wright Trophy for winning Sprints and the Michael W. Christian 1960 Trophy, a new trophy given to the first Ivy League finisher.

"We were really excited to win the Sprints. Our primary goal for the entire season is to win the Eastern Sprints," team captain Will Suto '07 said.

Dartmouth's men's varsity rowing teams, both heavyweight and lightweight, have been rowing in the Eastern Sprints since 1946. The lightweights' two other first place finishes were in 1993 and 1994. The only heavyweight win took place in 1992.

The Eastern Sprints consist of races over a 2,000-meter course that starts with six teams lined up evenly at the start line. In order to qualify for the grand final race, a team must finish in the top three in its qualifying race.

In the qualifying heat, Dartmouth was in first, ahead of Cornell and Navy, before the Big Green's boat caught an overhead crab, a near race-destroying mistake that could have kept the team out of the grand final.

The overhead crab, a rower losing complete control of the oar, forced the boat to a standstill of at least a few seconds, seriously hurting the team's time and halting its forward momentum.

However, coxswain Joe Politi '08 and the eight-man crew regained their composure to quickly regain speed and finish in third place ahead of Yale by only a little over a second to qualify for the grand final.

Cornell finished that heat in first with 5:47.6, with Navy following in 5:49.3. Dartmouth crossed the line at 5:50.2, ahead of Yale's 5:51.7.

"[The overhead crab] was a problem, but our coxswain handled it very well. The whole boat handled it well, [and] the important thing was that we stayed composed and finished the piece off well," Suto said.

Dartmouth came into the grand final with the slowest preliminary time out of the six finalists, which also included Princeton, Harvard and Georgetown. The Big Green did not initially dominate in the final heat, but a mid-race move pushed Dartmouth to the crown at Sprints, the conference championship race for the EARC.

At the 1,000-meter mark, Dartmouth was in fourth place, a few seats behind race-leader Cornell. The Big Green shifted into another gear, pushing the boat past the Big Red.

Dartmouth crossed the finish line in 5:38.9. Cornell came in second at 5:40.5 and Princeton took third at 5:41.1.

Two years ago in the 2005 Sprints, Dartmouth finished second to last. Two of the current boat members, Camden Place '07 and Jon Kroft '07, were rowers in that slow boat.

Head coach Steve Perry arrived at Dartmouth in the fall after that weak finish and has been amazed at the improvement that he has seen in a relatively short amount of time.

"I always go out trying to get them to win but I was expecting a four-year plan. I would have been satisfied this weekend with a medal, finishing in the top three," Perry said, laughing.

The lightweights will be back in the water in three weeks at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships from Saturday, June 2, to Sunday, June 3 in Camden, N.J. IRAs is the national championship meet for men's crew, both lightweight and heavyweight.