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Women’s crew takes second in race out West

UC Berkeley edges women in Sacramento, as men underestimate Harvard’s boats on Charles

Contributing Writer
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The men’s crew team lost five races against Harvard Saturday. The Bears will duel Northeastern on the Seekonk this weekend.

At a setting that will play host to this year’s national championship and against teams that will likely be competing there, the women’s crew team secured a second-place finish out of a field of nine.

The second-ranked Bears wrapped up the weekend tied with Stanford and trailing UC Berkeley, amassing 46 points at the Lake Natoma Invitational in Sacramento.

The men’s team battled Harvard in Boston on Saturday, suffering five losses.

The Bears anticipated a California-sized challenge even before the boats hit the water. “We expected the competition to be tough, because we knew that (the West Coast) teams had been out on the water for a lot longer,” said Monika Sobieszek ’17, who rowed for the second varsity eight boat.

“It’s obviously a huge advantage to be able to practice on the water, whereas schools like (Harvard) Radcliffe and Princeton have been frozen in, so we definitely expected it to be harder,” added Lucie Hajian ’17, coxswain for the second varsity four.

Brown ran the table against Sacramento State and Gonzaga Saturday morning. The top varsity four finished with a time of 7:12.0, comfortably ahead of the Hornets and the Bulldogs, which finished with times of 7:28.8 and 7:39.5, respectively. The varsity eight duplicated this effort, beating Gonzaga by four seconds and Sacramento State by 30. Both second teams also emerged victorious, with the eight boat cruising to a 20-second win and the four besting three boats, including Stanford, to win the heat.

The afternoon session saw more of the same. Brown’s first varsity four and eight and second varsity eight easily dispatched those of the University of San Diego and the University of Rhode Island, while the second varsity four defeated UC Berkeley, Stanford and Notre Dame in a four-team heat.

In fact, the women did not suffer a loss until the second race of Sunday morning, though it proved to be a crucial heat. The first varsity four got the better of Stanford and UC Berkeley, finishing with a time of 7:20.9, six seconds ahead of the Cardinal and 10 in front of the Golden Bears. But the eights were not as fortunate. UC Berkeley’s second team defeated Bruno by just two seconds, and Brown’s first boat lost to both UC Berkeley and Stanford, marking the only race in which the team failed to pick up a point and sealing second place overall.

“We saw the higher standard that schools like California are at right now,” said Sobieszek. “That’s what the next level looks like. It’s a good idea to have in mind for training.”

But morale remains high, Hajian said. “Even though the results weren’t what we wanted them to be, we use that as drive and motivation to get faster and push (ourselves). We have a lot of work to do, but I’m excited for it,” she said. The Bears will look to return to Sacramento May 29 for the national championship.

Closer to home, the men took part in the annual Stein Cup versus Harvard on the chilly Charles River. While the Bears fought hard, they ultimately emerged from the competition without a win.

Coming off of a challenging home tilt against powerhouse Washington last weekend, the team expected a slight downgrade in competition, said captain Walker Mills ’15, a Herald opinions columnist. “We weren’t expecting (Harvard) to be quite as fast as they were, so we were surprised. And that was our fault,” he said.

In the first race of the day, Brown’s fourth varsity was beaten by Harvard’s second freshman and fourth varsity. The third varsity did slightly better, starting strong before eventually being overtaken and losing by six seconds.

The freshman and JV boats were also outmatched, losing to the Crimson by nine and eight seconds, respectively. Finally, the varsity eight took to the water and gave Harvard all it could handle. With a strong headwind and choppy waters proving as tough an opponent as the Crimson, the Bears matched their hosts stroke for stroke until late in the race. Ultimately, Harvard emerged victorious by four seconds.

Mills acknowledged that the weather made an already tough matchup even more difficult. “In terms of the times of the races, it clearly played a role,” he said. But he added, “It would be a weak excuse to blame the losses on the conditions.”

Like the women’s, the men’s team is using these early-season tests as reference points. “The main idea of racing this early in the season against these top teams is that we’ll see where we stack up against them,” Mills said. “There’s no fooling ourselves about how fast we’re going to need to go in June to win a national championship.”

Looking ahead, the women’s team will take a trip of its own to Massachusetts this Saturday, facing off against Boston University, UMass and Northeastern. The men will also be in action that day, hosting Northeastern on the Seekonk.

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