Jumbos shine with near-perfect start to spring season

Senior co-captain Andrew MacMillen strokes the Tufts men's crew team in a home meet on April 2, 2016. Ray Bernoff / The Tufts Daily Archives

The Tufts men’s and women’s crew teams kicked off their spring seasons over the weekend. Both teams hosted a pair of regattas, each on the Malden River, with one on Saturday and the other on Sunday.

The women’s team saw its first varsity eight finish 3–1 on the weekend, while the second varsity eight put up a perfect 4–0 record. The Jumbos’ third varsity eight was 2–0 across both regattas, and their novice boats were scheduled to race three times, but had their races scratched twice due to various illness and injury on the opposing teams. The novices won their only matchup of the weekend.

Although the team’s training regimen wasn’t any different this offseason, it had a new mentality during the preparation for these regattas, according to senior Sera Busse.

“We’ve all kind of decided to work harder,” Busse said. “I wouldn’t say that we have changed anything in terms of our practices or workouts. It’s more of a mentality shift. We’re doing the same things, but we’re deciding to be better.”

On the men’s side, all three of the team’s varsity boats finished with perfect records for the weekend. The first and second varsity eights both went 4–0 in their races. The third varsity eight tallied three wins in three races, while the novice boat was 2–1 across both events.

Junior Alec Whipple, who rowed with the third varsity eight in both regattas this weekend, attributed the success of the men’s boats to a strong, team-wide commitment to training over the long winter season.

“Every day over the winter, every guy put in his two hours [of training] per day,” Whipple said. “You could really see it in the technical and fitness gains that we made. From the first guy to the 24th guy, up and down the roster, everyone was just so focused on winning and rowing well.

On Sunday, the Tufts women hosted Amherst and Smith College. The regatta featured a round-robin set of races for the first and second varsity eights, with each team racing the other once. The first varsity eight kicked off the day with an eight-second victory over Smith, 7:37.46 to 7:45.95. The Jumbos’ top squad would go on to finish their day with a commanding win over the Amherst Mammoths, 7:52.48 to 8:25.82.

Busse, who was in the first varsity eight on Sunday after rowing with the second boat on Saturday, noted that the race against Smith may have been the team’s toughest of the weekend.

“We knew that Smith was going to be comparatively faster than the other three races we had,” Busse said. “So we prepared for that mentally and went into [the race] knowing that we would have to try a bit more. I think we adjusted accordingly.”

The second varsity eight raced against both Amherst and Smith, as well. The matchup with Smith was very competitive and saw Tufts come away with a win by just over seven seconds (7:51.37 to 7:58.64). The Jumbos then defeated the Mammoths in a more comfortable, 22-second victory.

Finally, Tufts’ third varsity eight won its lone matchup of the day, defeating Smith’s boat 8:08.40 to 8:22.91.

On the men’s side, the format was the same — single races against each team — as Tufts hosted Amherst and UMass.

The team’s first boat to race on Sunday was the novice eight, which took on its UMass counterpart. The Jumbos defeated the Minutemen by a more than six seconds (6:54.62 to 7:01.1). The third varsity eight followed, as the Jumbos dominated the Mammoths with a 27-second victory in their third and final race of the weekend.

The first varsity eight for Tufts was perfect on Sunday, beginning with a close win over UMass, 6:30.37 to 6:32.75. The boat also won its second race of the day, against Amherst, with a more comfortable cushion (6:53.14 to 7:08.69). The second varsity eight won both of its races, as well, beating UMass by 19 seconds and dominating Amherst by 32 seconds.

On Saturday, the women’s team hosted Coast Guard, Middlebury and Trinity for its first regatta of the spring season. The men also kicked off the spring against similar opponents, hosting rowers from Coast Guard, Middlebury and Williams. Unlike the round-robin format of Sundays races, Saturday’s regattas featured a two-round tournament, with two semifinal races and a final, for the first and second varsity boats.

On the women’s side, Tufts’ first varsity eight lost its semifinal matchup with Middlebury by a slim margin, 7:27.81 to 7:32.39. The Jumbos later claimed third place, however, with an 11-second win over the Coast Guard Bears.

The second varsity boat posted an undefeated weekend, which began with a win over Trinity, 7:24.15 to 7:52.42. Perhaps the most dominant performance of the weekend came in the second varsity eight finals, where the Jumbos defeated the Bears by over a minute, 7:45.89 to 8:57.89.

Tufts’ third varsity eight raced once on Saturday, handily defeating Trinity by 34 seconds. The novice rowers won the novice four event against Middlebury by 12 seconds and had their novice eight race scratched due to illness on the Trinity side.

Meanwhile for the Tufts men, the team’s first, second and third varsity eights had perfect days to kick off its 2018 campaign. The first varsity eight won its championship race against Williams by a razor-thin margin of less than three seconds (6:21.31 to 6:23.88).

The Jumbos’ second eight also defeated the Ephs for first place, while their third varsity eight did the same against their Ephs foes. In the semifinal round, Tufts had a particularly close race against Coast Guard, in which it came from behind to win by three seconds.

“We started out slow — we were down to Coast Guard pretty much the whole way,” Whipple said. “To me, [getting the win] showed a mental resolve from the third boat that was as strong as any first boat out there.”

The novice eight was in the same bracket as the third varsity eight, losing the first race, but winning its consolation matchup with Coast Guard in a time of 6:51.97.

Whipple believes that the lessons learned from Tufts’ come-from-behind victory against Coast Guard carried over to its final two races of the weekend. In both of those races, the Jumbos stayed out in front the whole way and won handily.

The men’s side will host another regatta on the Malden River on Saturday, as Bates, New Hampshire and Wesleyan all visit Medford. The women’s team will host Bates, Wellesley and Wesleyan on Saturday, as well.