The men’s lightweight crew team won the national championship for the second time in three years last spring.
And while a repeat title remains within reach, the team is focusing on the fall season right now to gain experience.
“Our expectation this fall is to get some good racing experience that will prepare us for the main season in the spring,” said Eric Feins ’03, bronze medal winner at the 2002 World Rowing Championships this September in Seville, Spain. “I try to avoid having expectations of how successful we should be.”
Four members of the varsity eight graduated, including Andy Liverman ’02, who shared the bronze medal with Feins. The team will use the fall to reconfigure the varsity eight through competitive races.
“The work ethic of this team has been great. Everyone is so dedicated to the team, and the mutual reliance on one another creates a tremendously tight-knit group of guys,” Feins said.
Feins, Ben Hamilton ’03, Tom Toro ’04 and Evan Gibson ’04 return from the undefeated varsity eight boat. But unlike Feins, many members of the team did not row competitively this summer and will use the fall races to regain their form.
“The biggest emphasis in the fall is to row better and get back in shape,” Feins said. “Everyone comes back from the summer at different levels. Some guys have rowed all summer while others didn’t have a chance to get into boats. So there’s always an emphasis on getting everyone back up to speed.”
The Yale men’s heavyweight crew team lost several varsity rowers to graduation, but the Bulldogs have a new coach and a renewed sense of hope.
The team has struggled in recent seasons, but coach John Pescatore brings a fierce sense of competition to his first season at Yale.
Pescatore competed for the United States in the Olympics twice, winning a bronze medal in 1988. Most recently, he was an assistant coach for the University of Pennsylvania. In 2000, Pescatore was named the U.S. Rowing Coach of the Year while coaching the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team.
“We have a great coach that has won at every level of competition in which he’s participated,” captain Sam Limmer ’03 said. “This makes it easy for us. We just have to do what he says. He has confidence in us, so as long as we keep on his path we should achieve success.”
Former head coach Dave Vogel retired this summer after managing the program for the past 20 years.
Pescatore arrived at the end of August, but he already has increased the intensity of indoor training and shifted the team’s technical focus.
Limmer said the squad enters the fall without pressure but with everything to prove.
“Everyone basically has a clean slate,” Limmer said. “Everyone can define themselves in the eyes of our coach based on what they do this year. Some guys are stepping up and making a lot of progress so far.”
Because the team is young, Andrew Brennan ’04, Tom Kohr ’05, Greg Sherman ’05 and Chris Heller ’05 must adopt larger roles.
For many spring season teams, the fall is a mere dress rehearsal.
But the Yale women’s crew team cannot take such an idle approach. The Bulldogs lost five rowers from the varsity eight that led last season’s squad and was ranked fifth nationally, forcing younger members to grow quickly.
Coach Will Porter is confident the team’s juniors and sophomores will rise to the occasion, but he recognizes their upcoming challenges.
“Young teams do not have to be slow teams,” Porter said. “They need to do things physically that they have never done before and mentally become more disciplined and tougher, to answer the challenges they have never faced before.”
The three returning members of the top eight, captain Melissa Merritt ’03, Ashley Brzozowicz ’04 and Jordan Pearce-Bristol ’03, bring a wealth of skill and knowledge to the team. Merritt and Brzozowicz rowed with the Pre-Elite National Team Development this summer and return to campus with even more experience.
The fall races give the Bulldogs an opportunity to race at varsity speeds and allow Porter to evaluate his rowers in competition immediately.
“I am excited to see how we manage the challenges and stresses of live racing against other schools,” Porter said. “I am not a big 5-year-plan guy; I want to go fast now. The fall races will give us all the information we need as to who is fast, who is not fast, and who could be fast by the spring.”
All Yale crew teams will commence their fall seasons this weekend at the Head of the Housatonic Regatta in Derby.