The championship season for the men’s and women’s crew teams began on Saturday, May 2. Due to the shortened nature of the 2015 season, there was no clear favorite heading into Saturday’s races.
“We didn’t know what to expect this season, but to be honest, there were a lot of points where we felt like this was going to be [a] down season,” said men’s Captain Ethan Currie ’15. “Our erg scores weren’t huge, and it really took us a while to find a rhythm in the boats. It was especially hard to keep moving forward when you feel like it’s not working out, but complete credit to every guy on the squad for sticking through it.”
Despite struggling to a 2-3 record this season, the men found their groove on Saturday, turning in their best performance at New Englands since 2008. As they had done in the championship races seven years ago, the Cards had all three boats medal on Saturday, and this time the 1v and 2v took third place while the 3v captured first.
All the hard work the Birds put in during the winter in the erg room finally paid off.
“Every boat just went out there, executed, and exceeded expectations,” Currie said. “The 3v especially did really great, winning their race, and it was fantastic seeing those guys get rewarded for all their hard work.”
Over the last two Saturdays prior to New Englands, the Cardinals’ 1v suffered major losses to both Williams and Trinity, and its rowers were forced to give both squads their team shirts, as is customary of the losing team in crew. However, that was not the case on Saturday.
“We had to hand over our own shirts to Williams and Trinity over the past two weeks,” Currie said. “But you know what, they can keep the shirts, because we have hardware. We won when it counts the most.”
The women’s crew, like the men’s, did not have a great regular season, going 1-4. They were determined to put forth a good showing on Saturday. Although the 1v gave it their all, they were unable to medal and finished seventh, while the 2v and 3v both finished third.
“Saturday was a great day of racing all around,” said women’s Captain Emily Garvin ‘15. “Each of our boats went out there and just laid it all out. It’s been a long time since we’ve had two boats medal, and we placed 5th overall as a team, which is great. Both the 2v and 3v races were very close and definitely exciting to watch.”
Throughout most of the race, the 2v was sitting in fourth place just outside of getting a spot on the podium, but with about 400 meters to go, coxswain Lydia Tonkonow ’17 made an aggressive move that helped the 2v claim third place.
“There was definitely a point in the race when we weren’t sure if we were going to medal at all,” Garvin said. “It really came down to the final 400 meters when we walked back on Williams, who was leading us for the first 1600m of the race, where we just attacked the sprint to pull ahead into 3rd place. This is really in large part due [to] Tonkonow, who made an aggressive call to start the sprint much earlier than you usually do, a risk that really paid off. It felt great to beat crews like Williams and Trinity in that race, who have both beat us in the regular season.”
The 3v race was also a nail biter for WesCrew supporters. As the boats approached the finish, Bates, Trinity, and Wesleyan had separated themselves from the rest of the field and seemed destined to medal. While the Bobcats claimed first by nearly a five-second margin, the Bantams and Cardinals waited anxiously for the results of the photo finish to see which crew would be taking home silver and bronze. Unfortunately for the Cards, the Bantams were found to have out-sprinted them by .098 seconds.
“The 3v has been an aggressive and strong crew throughout the entire season, so it will be exciting to see what they take from this past week to carry themselves into ECACs,” Garvin said.
Both crews have a week to prepare before they head back up to Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass, on Sunday, May 10, for the ECAC Collegiate Championships.
“In the past, ECACs have been a bit of a drag, and unless you do really well at New Englands, it kind of feels like you’re heading into imminent death because there’s just even faster crews there,” Currie said. “But we don’t have that attitude at all this year, and we’re looking forward to ECACs. We are pumped about the performance on Saturday, but that doesn’t mean we are satisfied. We’re hungry. [The] season isn’t over until next Sunday, and we’re gonna try and take down as many crews as we can until then.”
With the Cardinals pulling off huge upsets at New Englands, they know the crews they faced there will be looking for revenge on Sunday.
“It is crucial that we maintain incredible focus, which we have done all semester, and move into ECACs quietly and fiercely,” said women’s Captain Gillian Mahoney ’15. “I think we upset a lot of other crews last weekend and they are going to come out gunning for us. Our job this coming weekend is to fight even harder and place even better. We are a strong, deep team and we need to pull out all the stops next Sunday.”