Varsity stroke Joe Fallon ’06 and the Yale lightweight crew team did everything it took to reclaim the Dodge Cup from Columbia and University of Pennsylvania this past weekend, including passing out. Literally.
Although Fallon lost consciousness 30 meters from the finish line due to a lung virus, the Bulldogs built on last weekend’s win over MIT to easily defeat the Lions and Quakers on Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. The Bulldogs — who won three of the four races — were led by the first varsity boat, which clocked in at 6:06:02, several seconds ahead of Columbia’s 6:09.4 and Penn’s 6:10.6.
“Winning is always better than losing,” captain Tamas Toro ’04 said. “These regular season regattas are a good chance for us to test out our speed and identify what changes we need to make to try and go faster.”
The second varsity boat echoed the first varsity’s success by scorching runner-up Penn by nearly 10 seconds. The Bulldogs timed in at 6:08.05, while Penn clocked in at 6:17.9 and Columbia finished in 6:21.8. The only non-first place finish for the Bulldogs was in the Novice division, where the Elis came in second at 6:15.5, only seconds behind Penn’s 6:09.4. But in the second frosh fours, the Bulldogs picked up the slack by speeding past Columbia’s 8:03.6 with a finish of 7:21.
After starting the season off with a loss to then-ranked No. 5 Navy, the Bulldogs have responded with two consecutive victories. Toro credits this turnaround to fixing past mistakes, but also admits there is still work to be done.
“Taking a loss in our first race helped identify our weaknesses,” Toro said. “We’ve been working hard on those elements, but we’re far from being a complete, polished crew — very far. There’s always improvements to be made.”
Andrew Klaber ’04 said the key to the Bulldogs’ early season success has been strong veteran leadership especially from Toro.
“[Toro] is a born leader,” Klaber said. “He has been in the winner’s circle before and understands what it takes to be a champion.”
Another added element has been the emergence of contributors in the lower divisions. Among those is Komli Atsina ’06, who is continuing to surprise everyone with his rapid progression.
“[Atsina] continues to get better and better every week,” Toro said. “In a few years that kid’s gonna be scary.”
Klaber echoed Toro’s statements by addressing the importance of the second freshman four to the team so far.
“Atsina and the second freshman boat have been leading this team from the bottom up,” Klaber said. “When there is 500 meters to go, you can count on these guys to throw in their nitrogen power and fly across the finish line.”
And with the EARC Sprints and IRA National Championships looming, Atsina and the Bulldogs are picking the right time in the season to get hot.
The Bulldogs hope to stay their course next Saturday, when they will host two meets. The doubleheader begins against Dartmouth and Rutgers and continues with Cornell in the nightcap.