In years past, the Head of the Housatonic race, held in nearby Derby, has been an easy warm-up for the men’s heavyweight crew team as they prepare for the Head of the Charles race, usually held a week later in Cambridge, Mass. This year was no different.

Men’s heavyweight eights dominated the home waters in the Housatonic last Saturday, placing first in the 4,400 meter race. But the men’s pairs and fours faced stiff competition from the Penn Athletic Club Rowing Association. The Penn Athletic Club was not expected to participate but took the top spots in both the men’s pairs and fours.

The first Elis placed second in the men’s fours with a time of 15:52.58, more than 28 seconds off the pace of the Penn Athletic Club. The Bulldogs fared better in the second race, placing second with a time of 17:57.73, 10 seconds behind first place Penn Athletic Club.

The Bulldog men’s eights dominated the competition, with a time of 14:29.25, almost 20 seconds better than second place Penn Athletic Club.

“We started first, so we didn’t have to pass any boats during the race,” captain Andrew Brennan ’04 said. “We made up the most time on the other boats during the middle mile of the race. All in all, it was a good warm-up before the Head of the Charles.”

The Head of the Housatonic is the first race of the year.

In last year’s final race, the Elis made a disappointing showing at the Harvard-Yale Regatta. But head coach John Pescatore said no one is thinking about last year. Pescatore said the team is working harder than ever now to prepare for the spring in hopes of a better finish at the 139th Harvard-Yale Regatta next June.

“They’d still like to beat Harvard really badly,” Pescatore said.

For the moment, the team is looking no further than this Sunday, when they will participate in the Head of the Charles. Brennan said the team will continue to work hard in preparation for this weekend.

“The focus is on working hard and improving physically, technically and mentally every day,” Brennan said. “There has been some competition for seats in the Charles boats, and that has gotten guys even more psyched up than usual about going to practice and racing.”

Pescatore also sees a lot of motivation on this year’s team.

“This team is going to improve all year,” Pescatore said. “There is much more motivation than there was on the team at this time last year.”

Brennan is hopeful about the team’s prospects for this season. He said the team’s goal is to medal at the Eastern Sprints and the IRA Regatta and to beat Harvard at the Harvard-Yale Regatta. All three of these races will take place in the spring of 2004.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but if things continue to go the way they’ve been going, we’ll be more than ready,” Brennan said.

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