Men’s Crew Takes Back Seneca Cup

Continuing its winning ways, the Colgate men’s crew team reclaimed the Seneca Cup from rival Hobart on Saturday at Lake Moraine. Rowing in spectacular weather, the men’s varsity eight won the race with a time of 4:15, edging Hobart by a mere three seconds.

Consisting of seniors Mike McCarthy, Dave Galos, Brendan Matthews and Paul Kelly, sophomores Tom Leonard and Russell Wirkus-Carter, and first-years Andrew Hatzenbuhler and Bryan Pape, the varsity eight began its race around 11 a.m. under clear conditions. After the varsity victory, the novice eight took to the water and decimated Hobart’s novice eight with a time of 4:30. “It was great to win the Seneca Cup back from Hobart,” Galos said.

Following the eights, the men’s four took to the water. Although Hobart squeaked out a narrow victory in the varsity four race, Colgate’s novice four beat Hobart by 12 seconds, with a time of 5:22. .

The Seneca Cup is awarded annually to the winner of the Hobart-Colgate match-up. Although Skidmore College is also a participant in the event, the school did not participate in the race yesterday.

“We are a team of destiny,” said McCarthy, obviously excited after the big win. “If you’re behind, get ahead. If you’re ahead, pray for the finish line.” Indeed, that is what the men’s varsity eight did.

The four seniors on the team desperately wanted to return the Seneca Cup to Colgate before graduating. Matthews believes that the team is even better this year than it was in last year’s season, during which the men’s four won a national championship. “As far as the eight, we should have won this race last year,” Matthews said. “But this year we are better and the dynamic in the boat is better.”

Crew is not a sport designed for attendance. Despite that problem, there was a substantial crowd gathered at the finish line on Saturday cheering on the team as it crossed in first place. “Although I was absolutely exhausted, it was a great feeling knowing that all our hard work had paid off and that a lot of people made it out to see us for our only home race,” Kelly said.

While the men reveled in victory on Saturday, the women’s team was in Camden, NJ to participate in the Knecht Cup. Competing in three events, the women’s team performed very well. Despite finishing 13th out of 18 teams, the women’s varsity eight showed great strength in rowing against and surprising some of their larger competitors such as Boston College, the University of Massachusetts and Georgetown. The team, after its strong showing in the semifinals, won the third final with a time of 6:57.7.

In the second varsity eight, Colgate placed third out of 12 teams with a time of 7:06.9. Boston College took first place with a time of 6:59.2 while Kansas finished second with a time of 7:04.5. The novice four also had an impressive fourth place finish in the grand final of their first large race.

“The team is really proud of its performance this weekend in the Knecht Cup,” junior coxswain Rebecca Sacks-Oppenheim said. “We raced over 30 competitors and had strong finishes in all of our categories.”

These finishes serve as evidence that the women’s team continues to improve. In addition to having a competitive first eight, the women’s second eight is surprising many teams at races like the Knecht Cup.

Much credit can be given to the strenuous winter training undertaken by the team as well as its Spring Break trip to Savannah, GA. “It really helped us bond as a team while enjoying our time back on the water,” Sacks-Oppenheim said. “The trip was very helpful for our technique and preparation for the season.”

Unity and trust are very important in any team sport. In addition to building technique, the constant winter workouts helped foster the solid team atmosphere that permeates the team. While there is no doubt that this team is very skilled, much of its success can be attributed to hard work, for which there is no substitute.

This weekend, led by team captain Toria Johnson, the team competes in the Patriot League Championships in Worcester, MA against the other seven teams of the league. Next weekend, the women will be competing in the New York State Championships and then finishing their season at the ECAC Championships, where both boats look to better the bronze medals in the Metro League race from last year.

Between the men’s and women’s teams, Colgate seems to be an emerging rowing powerhouse. Look for their races in the athletic calendars and support their efforts, especially by attending one of their rare – but exciting – home races.