In the season opener for the men’s lightweight rowing team, the Quakers learned a valuable lesson: in any race — freshman or varsity — aggression is key.

The Quakers placed second overall in the regatta, which pitted them against Delaware and Williams.

Senior captain Paul Shay felt the team’s overall performance was good for their first race.

“The freshman came out strong, which is a great thing for them, especially because they’re coach [Nick] Baker’s first recruiting class,” Shay said.

While Shay was pleased with the rookies, Baker expressed some disappointment.

“The varsity would have liked to see better results,” Baker said. “They raced hard, they just needed to race faster.”

The freshman boats posted wins in each of their races, winning by comfortable margins against both Delaware and Williams.

In the first race of the day, the Freshman Eight defeated second-place finisher Delaware by a full four seconds, completing the 2,000-meter course in 6:16.6. Later that afternoon, the same boat took on the heavyweights from Williams and defeated them by 21 seconds, with a finishing time of 6:38.3.

In the Freshman Four race, the Quakers posted an impressive open-water victory over Delaware, finishing 16 seconds ahead of the Blue Hens.

Shay attributes the victories to his team’s aggressiveness.

“They came out high and hard, and they reaped the benefits,” he said.

In the varsity races, Penn consistently took second against both Delaware and Williams. In the morning races against the Blue Hens, the Quakers came within three seconds of their opponent just once — in the Varsity Four race.

Delaware won by over four seconds in the other two varsity races of the morning.

Despite Shay’s disappointment after all the second-place finishes, he was encouraged by the way the varsity boats fought back in the afternoon races.

“We were able to address what went wrong in the morning and give it a second go in the afternoon,” he said. “In the afternoon, we were more aggressive.”

Competing against Williams’ varsity heavyweights, the Quakers lost by 6.6 seconds

In the first Varsity Eight race, the Williams team claimed a seven-second victory, with a time of 6:09.6 to Penn’s 6:16.2. The second Varsity Eight race was closer, as Penn completed the course in 6:27.6, just three seconds shy of Williams’ 6:24.6 race.

Neither Shay nor Baker was discouraged by the varsity’s losses. Both felt confident in the team’s overall ability and saw concrete fixes to help the team prepare for the Matthews-Leonard Cup next weekend against strong Cornell and Harvard squads.

And for both, the most important of those improvements was clear.

“The varsity has to work on keeping our fitness level up, increasing our aggression and making sure that we’re rowing well even as we’re hitting that high level of intensity,” Shay added.

Baker agreed, saying they had to “just be ready to attack and go for it.”

Aggression will be key against Cornell and Harvard, but based on this weekend’s results, both Baker and Shay feel the varsity will come out strong next weekend.

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