This weekend, the Tufts men’s crew team competed against Middlebury at Malden River on Saturday and traveled to Worcester on Sunday to race against the host Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Skidmore College and Washington College. The Jumbos won three out of four races against their NESCAC opponent Middlebury Panthers and finished second only to the WPI Engineers in Sunday’s regatta.
The competition started on Saturday with a set of straight 2,000-meter home races against Middlebury to celebrate Seniors Day. According to Row2k, the conditions were “messy but rowable,” with a consistent 10-15 knot headwind with some white caps that contributed to those rocky conditions. Tufts beat Middlebury in the first varsity eight, novice eight and second varsity four. The Panthers were only able to best the Jumbos in the first varsity four.
In the first varsity eight, the Jumbos were able to finish the course in 7:10.64, close to a minute slower than last weekend and a testament to how the conditions affected this meet. However, Middlebury was much less equipped for the conditions as they finished in 7:46.95. The varsity four results were split, and the novice Jumbos finished almost a minute before the Panthers.
“This was an exciting and successful weekend for Tufts crew … having an open water win under our belts motivated us to continue that performance in the second varsity eight against WPI and Washington College on Sunday,” senior Jackson Horwitz, who rowed in the bow seat of the second varsity four, told the Daily in an email.
Tufts beat WPI in the novice eight and beat Washington College in the third varsity eight but dropped two very tight races in the varsity eight and the second varsity eight to WPI.
In the varsity eight, Tufts was leading WPI for the first 1,200 meters of the race, but a last second surge in the final 500 meters allowed the Engineers to cross the finish line a mere 3.7 seconds ahead of the Jumbos. WPI completed the course in 5:56.89, while Tufts was right behind them with a time of 6:00.59. In another frustratingly tight race in the second varsity eight, WPI edged Tufts by half a second, 6:06.82 to 6:07.35.
“We didn’t have a fantastic start so we were a full boat length down on WPI at the 500-meter mark, but we kept our composure and walked through WPI in the middle 1000 meters, pulling ahead by two seats with 600 meters to go. It was a phenomenal race all the way to the line, and it came down to the last few strokes,” Horwitz, who switched to the second varsity eight boat for Sunday’s races, said. “WPI pulled ahead with four strokes to go and finished half a second in front of us, which was disappointing, but the race overall was one of the best we’ve had. It’s very, very difficult to start down and walk through a crew in the middle of a race, and I’m incredibly proud of what we accomplished.”
Tufts was able to get a win in the third varsity eight, though, beating Washington College by over 20 seconds.
“We felt really good about our performance, taking the lead off of the start and never giving up any ground. I was excited to feel the progress that this boat has made in both our technique and our power application,” first-year Alec Whipple said.
These regattas marked the team’s last weekend of racing for the regular season, and the Jumbos’ first varsity eight finished the regular season with a record of 8-2. The only losses were to WPI and Bates, teams currently ranked 10th and first in the country, respectively.
“The team fought hard on Sunday and really showed some potential against a very skilled WPI team,” Whipple said. “Each boat has been racing well against crews that are very competitive in the championship regattas.”
Looking ahead, Tufts enters the postseason in two weeks with the New England Rowing Championships on April 30. Sunday’s meet served as a dress rehearsal for that race, as the championships are also hosted on Lake Quinsigamond.
“Sunday’s race has motivated us to make significant strides in the next week and a half leading up to New England’s. I am fully confident that we will come into New England’s ready to finish in a position better than any Tufts men’s [second varsity boat] in recent history,” Horowitz said.
Coach Noel Wanner’s team will look to continue an impressive season by making a statement in the New England’s as they compete against the region’s best. The goal for the team, as it has been all year, is to bring some medals back to Medford. If the team performs like it did this weekend, that is a goal well within reach.
“There is an energy around the team as we get closer to the end of our season that fuels us every day … it is really exciting to be a part of, and I think we are ready to let New England know what Tufts rowing is all about,” Whipple said.