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Penn rowing kicked off its spring season with a strong start over the weekend, as the lightweight crew took down No. 12 Mercyhurst while the heavyweights finished in second in San Diego.

It was a busy weekend to start the spring season for Penn rowing, with boats in the water on both coasts for each of the program’s men’s squads. In the end, it proved to be a successful one, too.

The 11th-ranked lightweights opened their season at home against No. 12 Mercyhurst. While the Lakers won the freshman race and the fours, the Quakers won when it counted most.

Penn’s first varsity boat finished in 5:49.3, comfortably ahead of Mercyhurst’s 5:57.9, while the Quakers’ second varsity boat snuck in just ahead of the Lakers’ top rowers at 5:57.5, making Penn’s win even more convincing.

It was the first spring race for the lightweights under first-year Penn head coach Colin Farrell, whose excitement was unbridled after the win.

“The fun things about today and just getting into the spring racing is that now the crews are side by side,” Farrell said, explaining the difference from the fall season, in which the teams race single-file.

“They get to race and see their opponent right next to them, and you know how you’re doing at every moment of the race. And it’s a much shorter race. So the spring is just the greatest. It’s a lot more intense and personal because of those things.”

Rowing is a sport in which individual performances mean almost nothing. Still, Farrell was pleased with the actions of a few specific individuals before the race even started, explaining how the upperclassmen held a team meeting to give some advice to the freshmen.

“I was pretty proud of what I heard there, and just the way that they’re bringing the young guys along and trying to give them some veteran leadership. I really think all of our upperclassmen are doing nice job.”

On the other side of the country, the 13th-ranked heavyweights took part in the annual San Diego Crew Classic.

On Saturday, both the first and second varsity boats performed well in their heat races. The first team finished second in its heat at 6:01.34, significantly behind No. 2 California — who finished in 5:49.68 — but well ahead of Drexel’s 6:11.72 mark. The second team won its heat in 6:12.28, topping No. 12 Stanford.

In the final on Sunday, the first boat finished second behind Cal yet again in 6:03.68, but ahead of two teams above it in the rankings: Stanford (6:04.41) and No. 10 Navy (6:05.63).

The second boat finished in third in its final race, behind a pair of Cal boats but — like its teammates in the first boat — ahead of Navy and Stanford.

With their performance, the Quakers figure to move up in the next edition of the rankings, and their morale is certainly on the rise as well.

“It’s huge,” Greg Myhr, coach of Penn heavyweight rowing, said when asked about the team’s confidence following the weekend. “Confidence is such a big part of the sport. We have a pretty solid team.

“Nobody got done feeling like ‘That’s the best we can do.’ But everybody got done feeling like ‘Hey, that was pretty solid, now let’s go home and make it better.’”

Both teams will be in action again on Saturday at home. The heavyweights will battle Northeastern for the Burk Cup, while the lightweights will take on Cornell and Harvard in the Matthews-Leonard Cups.

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