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In the weeks leading up to its biggest race of the year, the Penn men's lightweight crew team was in a state of upheaval.

With less than 14 days left before last Sunday's EARC Sprints on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., Quakers head coach Bruce Konopka made a flurry of lineup changes.

The two most significant changes were the additions of a new coxswain and a new stroke seat in the first varsity boat.

"It's definitely hard to adjust to a new stroke man," said sophomore Brian Conley, who moved up from junior varsity to take stroke seat in the varsity eight boat. "There's a whole different rhythm and technique to get used to."

And, while the Quakers believe that the lineup switches are good long-term moves, they also feel that the short-term effects were less than positive.

"I think [the changes] actually hurt us a little in this race," Conley said. "We really just had one week to practice with the [new] lineup. The varsity didn't show as much speed as we think we potentially can."

That unused potential left the Quakers first varsity boat with a fourth-place finish in the petite final, a full five seconds behind third-place Navy.

Of the Quakers three varsity crews, the second eight fared the best, posting a time of 6:20.96, which was good enough for a second place in the petite final.

"I think that, overall, everybody was pretty disappointed," junior Eddie Hetherington said of the Quakers EARC finish.

After the lineup changes, Hetherington found himself in the third varsity boat. That crew, with new faces at stroke seat and coxswain, finished last in its Grand Final.

While the stroke seat changes were the hardest to get used to, a change in coxswain can also throw boats for a bit of loop.

"When you have the same coxswain through the whole season, she knows the nuances of that individual boat's rowing, and what certain people are having problems with," Hetherington said. "But all the coxswains adapted very well, practice was tough, but during the race all the coxswains came through."

Just as the eight members of the first varsity boat are getting used to the new faces in their lineup, they'll be split in half on June 3rd at the IRAs which will be held on the Cooper River in Camden County, New Jersey.

"We're splitting into two four-man boats, which will allow us to possibly medal in both," Conley said.

The Quakers have just over a week to get used to the four-man boats. While the lineups will likely see very few changes, the smaller boats present challenges that differ greatly from the larger eight-man array.

"These boats are a little more shaky," Conley said. "They respond more to mistakes and stuff, so you have to be more critical of your technique all the time."

The Quakers, then, will be taking a long, hard look in the mirror, or river, as they prepare for their final race of their long rowing season.

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