In a battle of defending champions and two other top-10 programs, it was up to Penn to pull an upset Saturday morning at the 54th annual Dodge Cup on the Schuylkill.
The race, which pitted the No. 7 Penn men’s lightweight rowing team against No. 2 Yale and No. 5 Columbia, saw the Bulldogs taking home the Cup for the 37th time, with Penn coming in third in both the first and second varsity races.
Penn coach Nick Baker attributes the close loss to a lack of consistency.
“We didn’t have a very good start, but then we were able to come back into Columbia in the second 500,” he said. “We kind of just let Columbia get away from us in the first 500, and then there just wasn’t enough room left at the end.”
The Lions crossed the finish 3.5 seconds ahead of Penn as the two vied for second place. Yale, the defending national champion, finished a full 5.9 seconds faster than Columbia.
“We just can’t let crews get away from us,” Baker said. “When we’re doing something really well, we just got to keep going really well.”
Mitigating the loss of the varsity boats was the freshmen eight’s win against Yale. The freshmen eight remain undefeated this season.
“We’re thrilled about the freshmen, taking on the No. 1 freshmen in the country,” Baker said. “They really, truly excelled [at] that part of the race [that] last week we thought was not their best part, so that was really exciting for us to see.”
Such improvement reflects the team’s focus on getting better each and every week.
“What we need to do is just continue to progress and get ourselves ready for our championship,” Baker said.
In fact, Baker was happy about the team’s progress, which showed in this weekend’s race.
“We felt like we had a better performance than we had a week ago across the board in all of our boats,” he said.
Baker attributes at least some of that improvement to the technical skills he’s having the team work on.
“In every one of our categories, we did a better job today than we did a week ago, so it’s working,” he said. “It’s just we need to stick at it. We’re definitely not at the end of the road, by any means.”
The Quakers have won the Cup 15 times, while Columbia has taken the Cup four times.
For Baker, this season has been all about working to bolster the Quakers’ speed.
“We’re never just working on one thing — we’re working on multiple things,” he said. “And most of the time, everything ties in together.
“We still didn’t have necessarily the complete race to the level that we want to have a race at,” he added. “But we’re getting closer and we’re starting to get to where we want to be.”
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