In the opening racing weekend of the spring season, the Penn men’s lightweight crew team started successfully with dominating performances over Delaware and Saint Joseph’s.

In the morning against the Blue Hens, the Quakers were looking for revenge after dropping three varsity races against the squad a year ago — and they did just that, sweeping the session.

Battling a moderate tailwind, both freshmen boats cruised to victories, with the second four crossing the line 6.4 seconds ahead of Delaware in the first race and the freshmen eight finishing an impressive 12.4 seconds ahead in the second.

In the closest race of the morning, the second varsity eight edged out a victory, clocking in with a time of 5:59.3, just ahead of Delaware’s 6:01.5 — though Penn led from start to finish.

The varsity eight finished with the best time of the day, in 5:50.9, well ahead of the Blue Hens’ 5:55.2.

The Quakers took the momentum they had built in the morning and carried it over into their afternoon meeting with the St. Joe’s heavyweights.

Against the Hawks and former Penn head coach Mike Irwin, current coach Nick Baker’s squad took two of three races.

The varsity eight again secured a decisive victory, besting the Hawks’ top boat by 8.7 seconds.

The results of the second varsity eight race, however, may have been Penn’s most impressive and promising performance of the day.

Though the Quakers’ second eight defeated St. Joe’s by 4.6 seconds, it was Penn’s freshman eight that crossed the finish line first, with an even time of 6:00.0 — 6.8 seconds ahead of their teammates.

In the Red and Blue’s only hiccup of the day, a mixed eight of freshmen and third varsity rowers fell to the Hawks’ third varsity by 13 seconds, though they managed to beat St. Joe’s’ fourth varsity by 22.5 seconds.

Between the two sessions, the Quakers honored former head man Fred Leonard, who led the Penn 150s from 1964 to 1991. The team named a shell the “Fred W. Leonard” and held a dedication ceremony in his honor.

Next weekend, Penn will hit the water again in Ithaca, N.Y., taking on Cornell for the Matthews-Leonard Cup. A year ago, the Quakers captured the cup from Cornell for the first time in 21 years.

— Mike Wisniewski

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