Men’s crew beats three NESCAC rivals in solid weekend of rowing

Tufts' novice men in their winning race on Saturday against Bates College. Courtesy Anna Lindgren-Streicher

The men’s rowing team was back in action Saturday on its home waters of the Malden River, taking on crews from Bates College, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and Wesleyan University. The Jumbos also faced the Amherst Purple and White in head-to-head races Sunday.

On Sunday, the men’s first and second varsity eights swept Amherst College in two head-to-head races, winning both by definitive margins. Under windy and chilly conditions, the Jumbos surged out ahead of the Purple and White rowers and led the whole way in both races. The first varsity eight (6:36.19) won by an impressive twenty-six seconds against Amherst (7:02.04), while the second varsity eight (6:42.3) won by nearly a minute (7:35.85).

Under sunny skies on Saturday morning, the Tufts rowers competed in a four-team event conducted in a style similar to the Henley Royal Regatta that is held annually on the River Thames. Crews raced each other in a series of head-to-head knock-out heats to determine positioning in the grand and petite finals, with the winning crew of each heat going to the grand final and the losing crew going to the petite final. Tufts’ first varsity eight finished second out of four teams, finishing only behind Bates’ first varsity eight crew, the defending grand final champions of last year’s New England Rowing Championships varsity eight event.

Coming off of its impressive victories the previous Saturday, the Tufts first varsity eight this Saturday was comprised 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.

The first varsity eight won their first heat against Wesleyan University (6:05.4) with a time of 6:01.9. The Jumbos moved on to the grand final, but they lost to the Bates Bobcats by a margin of nearly 16 seconds and had to settle for second.

In perhaps the team’s most impressive performance on the day, Tufts’ novice eight entry, comprised of first-year stroke Ryan Magnuson, first-year Tamas Takata, first-year Reed Collins, sophomore Hani Chkess, first-year Nick Hartman, first-year James Miller, junior Jeremy Slavitz, first-year bow Max Klaver and first-year coxswain James Grant, took home another dominant win over the Bates novice men’s crew.

Pulling away from the opposing crew with their first ten strokes on the water, the novice men kept an early lead on Bates, which they maintained throughout the 2000-meter race.

“This past week we worked on getting our [stroke] rate up, especially in the beginning half [of our race], and [Saturday] that’s exactly what we did,” Collins said. “Our start was really fast. We pulled away right in the beginning, and it’s a pretty demoralizing thing for the other team when that happens.”

The crew’s victory came just a week after they suffered a disappointing defeat to Bates College in a regatta held on the Charles River on April 2, where the Bobcats finished in front of the Jumbos by a margin of 15 seconds — an outcome that the crew attributed to their lower stroke rating and slow start.

“[Last week] we wanted to be at a [stroke] rating of 36 during our race but we ended up at a 31,” Grant said. “So today, we were able to keep [our rating] at a 36 during the piece but jumped up to a 40 for our power moves.”

The novice eight’s improvement over the past week was described by Collins and Grant as the result of coach George Munger’s direction and guidance, a sentiment echoed by Takata. Munger was hired this past fall to coach the novice men’s crews after leaving his post at Boston University.

“[Our success is] really all due to our coach,” Takata said. “Coach George [Munger] is the best coach I’ve ever had … He simplified the stroke and made it all work together. Everything [the team] does, we’re doing it for our coach.”

The novice eight entry earned some redemption after last week’s disappointment on the Charles, finishing half a boat-length ahead of their competition with a time of 6:18.1 to Bates’ 6:20.9.

In the other Saturday races, Tufts’ second varsity eight lost to Wesleyan in the first heat, but won against UNH in the petite final with a time of 6:28.4, far ahead of the UNH boat. The third varsity eight lost to Wesleyan by a margin of five seconds with a time of 6:52.7.

The varsity and novice men’s rowing teams look to replicate their victories this Saturday in their final home regatta against NESCAC rival Middlebury at the Shoemaker Boathouse before heading out to Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester to take on Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and Washington College on Sunday.