Lightweight crew finds winning ways

One week after failing to defend its Head of the Charles regatta title, the lightweight men’s crew team defended its championship title at the Princeton Chase Sunday.

The women’s crew team and the heavyweight men also competed in the three-mile headrace in New Jersey, which allowed the Bulldogs to race multiple boats in their last regatta of the fall.

The lightweights returned to the Princeton Chase as the defending champions and reclaimed their title this weekend. After some boat adjustments that moved Mark Dougan ’03 and Brendan Mill ’05 into the first boat, the Bulldogs returned to their winning ways, which culminated in a national championship last season. The varsity eight and four both finished first, and the second varsity eight finished sixth.

Although the Elis dominated the competition Sunday, the lightweight men are more concerned with the work ahead of them this winter than their achievements this fall.

“We were certainly happy to have done well, but we know that we have to be on top of our game this winter in order to keep up with the rest of the league,” Matt Gerrish ’03 said.

Lightweight crew head coach Andy Card echoed Gerrish’s sentiments. He said the experience gained this fall is important for building confidence before the spring.

“The guys came off the water feeling good about their race, and that’s what the fall is all about,” said Card. “I want the guys to enjoy the row and the results will fall into place.”

The lightweight men, who graduated multiple members of last year’s national championship boat, indicated by their performance on Sunday that they are well on their way to overcoming this loss.

“It hasn’t been an easy fall — the juniors and seniors had to adjust a lot,” Card said. “But it’s good to struggle — a great team must be able to rebound from adversity.”

The Bulldogs enter the winter season with experience that they think will propel them into another successful spring campaign.

“I am very excited about our potential heading into winter training,” lightweight crew captain Ben Hamilton ’03 said. “I know we can be fast this spring, but if there’s one thing this fall has proven, it’s going to take a lot of patience, hard work and, most importantly, a positive attitude.”

After an impressive showing at the Head of the Charles — where they defeated all other college teams — the women returned to the water at Princeton as the team to beat. After defeating Princeton by a margin of 10 seconds the previous weekend, the Tigers retaliated and defeated the Bulldogs by five seconds Sunday. The varsity eight finished second and Yale took third and fourth in the fours.

Though the team was disappointed with the loss to Princeton, coach Will Porter is thrilled with the progress his team has made this fall.

“I am pleased with the speed we showed this fall,” Porter said. “Now the real challenge is ahead of us. Winter training is one of the keys to our spring speed. As a team we are in a good place entering the winter.”

The women begin winter training energized by their unexpected success this fall.

“We have found that we have a lot of depth and that certainly contributed to our success this fall,” captain Melissa Merritt ’03 said. “I’m excited to see what happens over the winter as people get stronger and begin to really see what they are capable of.”

The heavyweight squad finished its fall season with fourth and fifth place finishes in the fours and 10th in the varsity eight race.

Though the heavyweights hoped to turn in a better performance at Princeton, the Bulldogs hope that the winter will give them the chance they need to sharpen their skills in time for spring races.

“Our results this fall have showed us that we have plenty of room for improvement before the spring season,” Andrew Brennan ’04 said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work during winter training, but I’m confident that we’ll be ready to compete with the best in our league by springtime.”

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