Jet lag was not a factor for Penn men’s rowing as both the lightweight and heavyweight teams travelled to Sacramento this weekend for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championship Regatta. Both teams turned in solid performances that they are hoping will build some momentum going into next season.
Of the two, lightweight rowing had the stronger performance at the IRA’s. After years of gradually building up towards more success, the Quakers had their best finish since 1992 by finishing in second place.
“We came here to win, in that regard we didn’t quite execute on that plan,” coach Collin Farrell. “But the reality is that in our sport we can’t play defense. The true expectation was that we put out a winning effort, that we leave it all out on the course, and do what we trained to do. By that regard we did a tremendous job.”
In particular, Farrell, joked would have liked to play defense on lightweight rowing powerhouse Cornell. In the Varsity Eights race, on a 2,000 meter course, Cornell edged Penn by a little over a second. Penn finished in fifth place in both the Varsity Fours and Straight Fours (without a coxswain) race. The only other teams to have all their boats make it to the Grand Final were Harvard and Princeton.
This loss will certainly sting, but Penn has plenty of reason to be proud as its seniors work over the past several years has helped build a foundation for success.
“The class of 2017 has just been tremendous for us,” Farrell exclaimed. “They have really been a big part of building the squad to where it is now. They did a good job of setting a tone for urgency but not panic. They have done an amazing job of letting the underclassmen know how important this is to them.”
And now, the underclassmen will have to step up if the Red and Blue want to build off of this season.
The heavyweight rowing team, despite not coming close to winning the regatta, also put forth an effort that should springboard momentum into 2018. While the results could have been better, Penn was fielding one of the youngest teams at the regatta.
Particularly, the Varsity 8 boat is incredibly young for a top boat as it features five freshman. After finishing in seventh place in the Petite Final, the Varsity 8 boat finished 13th overall.
“We outperformed our rank and while we did not achieve our ultimate goal, the field was fast and we performed our best,” freshman Jay Hofmeister stated. Their bounce back performance was particularly encouraging after losing to Cornell in the semi final heat after losing their advantage over the Big Red in the last 250 meters of a 2000 meter course the day before.
Coming into the IRA’s, the Varsity 8 was ranked 14th so a 13th place finish is encouraging. Next year, the Quakers expect this boat to turn some heads as their youth develop into experienced rowers.
The Varsity 4 boat had the best finish of all the heavyweight boats by coming in sixth place, losing to Holy Cross, but the highlight of the weekend came from the the Second Varsity 8 boat. After coming in ranked 15th, few gave them a chance to crack the top ten. However, through shear gutsy racing, they were able to finish second in the Petite Final to place in eighth place overall. They topped 14th ranked Dartmouth by over a second.
The IRA’s marked the end of the season for Penn men’s rowing. With an offseason of hard work and a fearless mindset heading into next season, watch for both men’s heavyweight and lightweight to make a splash in 2018.