The men’s and women’s crew 1V boats both came out of competition on Saturday, April 12 with even 1-1 records, drawing their first losses of the season at the hands of Bates and Wellesley, respectively. In the dual-race format of the Malden River meet, the winners of the opening races faced each other in the final sprint on the two-lane, 2,000-meter course.
Both Wes men and women 1Vs won their first races before losing their second ones. The men beat the University of New Hampshire to start off the day, finishing with a time of 6:02.8, four seconds ahead of UNH’s 1V time. Wes men lost the next race to Bates by about the same margin, finishing in 6:14.6 to Bates’ 6:10.9.
The Cardinal women beat Bates in the 1V by four seconds as well, crossing the finish in 7:00.9. The varsity eight then lost to Wellesley, which finished 12 seconds ahead of Wesleyan’s time of 7:04.7. The women’s 2V and 3V boats both lost to Bates in their first races, but beat Tufts in their second ones by comfortable margins. The novice eight decisively won both of its races, trumping Wellesley and Tufts, the former by 12 seconds and the latter by almost an entire minute.
The Red and Black men’s 2V secured two wins, both by comfortable margins of around 20 seconds. Wesleyan’s novice eight boat lost to Bates in its first race before easily beating Tufts, a full 30 seconds ahead of the Jumbos.
Captain Nick Petrillo ’14 expressed enthusiasm and optimism about the team, as supported by its still sterling 5-1 record.
“I think we’ve got the best team we’ve had in my four years here,” Petrillo said. “We just put in an unparalleled amount of work this winter. The work ethic changed. From top to bottom, we have guys that are working extraordinarily hard and putting in some serious hours. It’s also a very mature team, which I think is fantastic because we treat every practice very seriously. I think we’re setting ourselves up for one of the more successful seasons we’ve had and that’s what we expect.”
Looking even beyond the upcoming race against Williams on Saturday, April 19, to ECACs in early May, Petrillo went further into his predictions for the season.
“The squad expects medals this year,” he said. “I think we’ve put in the amount of work where we’re not rowing for second place in any race we’re in. I think we’re going to go into Trinity expecting for it to be a hard race, but one that we can pull out. [With] Williams [I feel] the same way. Both [of] those teams are great teams. We think we can hang with the big dogs when we’re ready for it.”
Women’s Captains Clare Doyle ’14 and Kayla Cloud ’14 also shared optimism about the season.
“We definitely have a lot of work to do as we go forward,” Doyle said. “Hoping to keep improving each week. But right now, we’re doing well. We’re confident. The whole team is working very hard.”
Cloud echoed the cohesion that resounds throughout both crew teams.
“You really give a lot of yourself to this sport and the people that you row with,” Cloud said. “I actually saw this really cool video on trust today, and how you have to really trust other people around you. It was talking about how trusting is relaxing and letting go. And that’s such an interesting way to think about it with crew because it’s such a high intensity sport. But you have to be relaxed with the people that you’re rowing with. Otherwise there’s no rhythm.”
Doyle agreed and further emphasized the importance of unity among team members.
“It’s all about being quiet and listening to the water, watching and feeling your teammates around you, doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time in an effective rhythm,” she said. “When you get that, it’s really awesome and really rewarding. I would say that most of the time we’re working towards that, and that’s part of one of the challenges of it. The team has developed in such a way that we’re at a point now where all the boats are moving really well together.”
On the other end of levels of experience, novices also overwhelmingly felt positive about the future and the tightly knit community that is the crew team.
“It’s been a great experience so far,” said Connor Schon ’16. “Essentially, it defines my experience at Wesleyan. It’s that much of a commitment. Great guys, great coaches to work with. It’s a fun thing. I never did anything like it. I mean, I was on the tennis team in high school, which is definitely a far cry from crew. This is taxing both physically and mentally. But it’s worth it.”
Likewise, Annalee Holmdahl ’17 shared her experience as a novice rower. A swimmer of seven years, she was eager to move onto a new sport, and crew fit the bill perfectly.
“I did one season in high school [with] a crew team that [had] just started,” she said. “It was really fun to relearn all of the basics. Everyone was so nice. It’s a sport where, when you’re racing, someone’s like yelling at you and telling you exactly what you need to do. I was so used to swimming, where there’s no noise whatsoever. And it helps me so much.”
In a strong and hopeful concluding tone, Petrillo summed up the competitive attitude and unified mentality reverberating throughout the crew teams.
“We’ll succeed together and we’ll fail together,” he said. “But I think we’re ready to succeed.”