Heavyweight rowing sweeps four races at Alumni Cup

For their first full spring season in three years, the No. 4 ranked heavyweight team racked up wins in all its races last weekend and will take on No. 1 Yale this weekend.

by Macenna Hansen | 4/8/22 2:10am

Source: Courtesy of Harrison Taylor

The heavyweight rowing team opened its spring season on a strong note with wins in all four races last weekend at the Alumni Cup in Worcester, Mass. The first varsity eight began the day with a victory over No. 17 ranked Columbia by nearly 13 seconds. The second varsity boat  followed up with another win by an even larger margin: 17 seconds. The third varsity  race saw the Big Green claim both first and second place, while the fourth varsity race was another win for Dartmouth.

“It was just awesome to field five eights and feel like we were returning to our normal rhythm,” men’s heavyweight rowing head coach Wyatt Allen said. “Not having had a full-length spring competition season in three years, it was both this feeling of ‘it's good to be back’ and it was cool to watch some of our guys race for the first time…You forget [how special that is] sometimes.”

“It was a good start to the season, and given that traditionally we’re one of the last schools on the water, certainly it’s good to get an early season win under your belt,” Allen added.

Last year, Dartmouth did not get to hit the water until late in the season due to COVID-19 restrictions, but nonetheless put together a successful season. Now, as a result of lifted restrictions, there is a sense of excitement throughout the team, according to assistant coach John Graves.

“There is definitely an enthusiasm about competing that stems from not having a normal season in a while,” he said.

Last spring —  although shortened — was a historic season for the program. Despite being cleared for competition just three weeks before the IRA National Championships, the Big Green finished third, earning the program’s first IRA medal in the varsity eight in 17 years.

“So the question coming into this fall was, is Dartmouth actually good — or was that a blip because of COVID-19?” first varsity rower Harrison Taylor ’21 said. “But then at the Head of the Charles [in the fall], we came in second. We beat Yale [University], which was huge. It was awesome.” 

Dartmouth is currently ranked fourth by the Intercollegiate Rowing Coaches Association.

“There are definitely some expectations,” Graves said, “But I think for us, internally, the ethos of the team has always been this underdog mentality. I think the goals for this team are really to see how fast they can go… It's about reaching the potential of this group.”

Coming off such strong performances this past fall and spring, Taylor said that the team is looking to prove that its success is real and sustainable.

“[We want to find out] if we were just somehow able to better weather the conditions during COVID and that’s why we did well, or if we’re actually good,” he said. “I'd like to think that I know the answer. But it’s still undecided — and we need to go out there and see what we can do.” 

Allen praised the oldest rowers on his roster for setting the tone for the rest of the team to be successful. 

“We basically have two senior classes who are leading and continuing our culture and approach,” Allen said. “I think it’s because of who those guys are and how they’ve led that has put us in a good position.”

Dartmouth will face off against first-ranked Yale this Saturday in Derby, Conn. for the Olympic Axe race.