Returning to its home waters of the Malden River after a week long spring training trip in DeLand, Fla., the men’s rowing team raced in its first regatta of the spring season on Saturday.
Tufts hosted teams from Hamilton College and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at the Shoemaker Boathouse in a morning three-way meet before facing the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass Amherst)head to head in the early evening, making Saturday a full day of racing for the Jumbos. Gloomy weather conditions coupled with light rain in the morning were no impediment to the team’s ability to sweep the competition and walk away with wins across the board.
The first varsity eight entry, consisting of sophomore stroke Andrew MacMillen, senior Andrew Warren, junior Doug Burt, senior tri-captain Jon Williams, first-year Richard Gilland, sophomore Tyler Hagedorn, junior tri-captain Zach Merchant, first-year bow Ryan Bell and first-year coxswain Hannah Frankel, secured their win against Hamilton very early into their 2,000 meter race. Leading the Continentals by one boat length halfway into the course, the Jumbos surged to victory by four seconds with a time of 5:56.8.
“[Against Hamilton] the power was really good. We were feeling fresh and tensed up a little too much, so … it didn’t feel as light or as smooth as it should have been,” Macmillen said. “In the second race [against Coast Guard] we took our stroke down to a lower rate and it felt a lot smoother, even though time-wise it was slower.”
Rounding out a full day of wins and impressive times, in the Jumbos’ subsequent races, the first varsity eight clocked times of 6:05.6 against Coast Guard (6:18.6) and 5:54.35 against UMass (5:58.42). Despite these victories, members of the team highlighted areas in which they could improve for future races in the season.
“There were a lot of things that didn’t go as well as we would have liked. In our second piece [against Coast Guard], we were definitely more relaxed and got all our adrenaline out of the way,” Frankel said. “We were definitely excited [about these races] since we just got back from Florida, where we made a huge amount of progress.”
The second varsity eight experienced a similar string of victories in their own races. The entry, composed of first-year stroke Chandler Glass, senior J.J. Zhou, first-year Isaac Mudge, senior tri-captain Jonathan Lapadula, first-year Rohail Rai, senior Spencer Moslow, sophomore Matt Cohen, senior bow Jackson Horwitz and junior coxswain Connor Fallon, led the visiting crews by huge margins on Saturday.
Both Frankel and Lapadula noticed the crews’ increased skill at navigating difficult weather and water conditions. In the second varsity eight race against Hamilton, the race started with the Continentals drifting into the Jumbos’ lane due to the wind.
“[Our races] felt really great. In the first race we clashed oars with [Hamilton], but our team maintained our cool,” Lapadula said. “We could tell the other boat was frazzled by it but we were surprisingly calm.”
“[The crews are] used to rowing in this weather … We go out in every type of weather and in Florida we practiced with a lot of waves so we really got a chance to prepare for today,” Frankel added.
The second varsity eight clocked in at 6:02.5 to Hamilton’s 6:26.2 and later that afternoon at 6:08.83 against UMass’ 6:23.93, crossing the finish line several lengths ahead of their competition.
To finish out a day of winning performances by the varsity men, the novice four entry of first-year stroke Alec Whipple, first-year James Miller, first-year Toby Glover, sophomore bow Josh Kaltman and sophomore coxswain Annelise Ryan surged to victory in their two races with a 20-second lead of 7:28.0 over Hamilton (7:48.4) and a time of 7:02.40 against UMass (7:06.95).
The impressive showing by the novice men marks a change in the attitude of the rowing program at Tufts, a sentiment echoed by Fallon.
“The biggest difference that I’ve seen [in Tufts crew] has been with the novice program,” Fallon said. “There’s been a switch in mentality in the novice program – [the novices] are now thinking, ‘we’re training to actually be rowers.’”
Overall, Saturday’s races at Shoemaker Boathouse not only reaffirmed the success of the men’s varsity and novice crews’ offseason training but also showed the novice program’s bright prospects and significant promise as the team moves forward into the spring season.
Looking ahead, the crews hope to continue their winning streak as they face Wesleyan, Bates and University of New Hampshire at the Shoemaker Boathouse next Saturday in their next home regatta, followed by a duel with Amherst on the Malden again on Sunday.