Crew gets ‘wake-up call’ in first two races

Assistant Sports Editor
Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The men’s and women’s crew teams hit the water over break for the first time this spring, earning mixed results despite high expectations.

The women’s team entered the season with a target on its back after earning the NCAA Championship in 2011 and a No. 4 national ranking. Nonetheless, Liz Hutsell ’12 said the team felt no added pressure as the defending champions.

“It’s no different this year, because Brown had a good history even before the current members of the team came to the school,” she said. “I think there is always pressure to live up to that, whether we won the last season or not.”

After a long winter of training, the Bears were eager to get back on the water as they travelled to Princeton March 24 to face the No. 3 Tigers and No. 9 University of Michigan.

“You train indoors for the whole winter, so that first race is always exciting to see where you stack up … rather than just doing it in isolation,” Hutsell said.

With a time of 6 minutes, 43.1 seconds, Michigan won the varsity eight 5 seconds ahead of Princeton and 11 seconds ahead of Brown (6:45.5). Michigan (6:43.9) also took first in the second varsity, followed by Princeton (6:46.4) and Brown (6:51.0).

In the varsity four, Princeton (7:35.0) beat out both Brown (7:46.6) and Michigan (7:51.0). The Tigers also clinched the third varsity eight in 7:08.1, eight seconds ahead of the second-place Bears.

“It was a really tough race,” Hutsell said. “Those teams are so good, and they both did a great job.”

The Bears then hosted their first home race March 31 on the Seekonk River, squaring off against Radcliffe, Harvard’s varsity squad.

“Home court advantage may be mostly psychological, and I don’t know if there are any tangible benefits, but it’s always nice to be on your home course,” Hutsell said.

The Bears’ varsity eight posted the fastest time of the day at 6:16.0 to outgun Radcliffe. But the foes from Cambridge bounced back to clinch victories in the second varsity eight, third varsity eight and varsity four.

Having slipped three places to No. 7 in the national rankings, the Bears will return to the water Saturday as they travel to in-state rival University of Rhode Island.

The men’s squad also entered its spring season with high hopes. The Bears varsity eight posted an impressive showing in the fall at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Mass., finishing third among college teams in a competitive field.

The Bears opened their spring schedule on the road against Yale March 24, battling unfavorable weather conditions and a breakage in one of their boats.

Alex Fleming ’12 called the race “a bit of the mess” but said the setbacks were not solely responsible for the team’s performance.

Yale came out on top in the freshmen eight, finishing in 6:21.6, three seconds ahead of the Bears. The Bulldogs held on to win the second varsity eight in 6:26.7, only 1.2 seconds ahead of Brown’s time.

The weather deteriorated as the day drew on, resulting in the slowest times in the varsity eight race. Yale was again able to outpace the Bears, finishing in 6:43.7, a mere two seconds ahead of Bruno.

Fleming said the combination of losing and the horrid weather helped to motivate the Bears moving forward. “It wasn’t really the start to the season we were hoping for, and we were all left hungry to get a race in cleaner water to see how fast we were.”

The Bears had their chance with a rare opportunity to travel to the West Coast, where they took on the defending champion University of Washington March 31.

The Huskies won by a six-second margin in the varsity eight, and clinched victories in the freshman eight, second varsity eight, third varsity eight and combo eight races.

After its impressive showing in the fall, the team had higher expectations for the start of the season, Fleming said.

“We had a lot of positive results in the fall, which is why guys are a little bit disappointed with our first two race results,” he said. “It’s definitely a good wake-up call.”

Nonetheless, Fleming said traveling cross country to face one of the nation’s top programs is an invaluable experience.

“We were happy that we got to see how fast we were and what the West Coast speed is like,” he said. “They performed better than us on the day, but that’s good motivation for us in training. We still have a few months before the Ivy League championship and the national championship.”

The Bears host their first home race of the season Saturday as Ivy League rival Harvard comes to town.


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