| VOL. 23, NO. 24||JUNE 12, 1998 |
Mens Crew Finishes 2nd in the Nation
On to the Henley Royal Regatta
|Dan Richman, CC98, adorned with his silver medal, rests after the race. Photo by Bill Steinman.|
BY A. DUNLAP-SMITH
n a 2-kilometer stretch of the Cooper River in Camden, N.J. on May 29, Columbias Lightweight Varsity Crew stroked to a silver medal in the national rowing championships, and to a place in the Universitys athletic pantheon.
Its showing at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships (IRA) ranks Columbias varsity boat second in the country, the best performance of a Lion crew in more than a quarter-century. And the victory will send the crew across the Atlantic, to the Henley Royal Regatta in England.
But for Columbia, crossing the finish line at the IRA ahead of Harvard and Yale and just two seconds behind Princetons undefeated eight marked the arrival of not only a great crew among the countrys perennial rowing powers, but of an entire program. Beginning perhaps when the seniors in this boat were freshmen, Columbia has fought its way steadily into the group of lightweight rowings elite collegiate crewsa group dominated by the H-Y-P triad. The race on the Cooper River proved that the Lions had at last won that fight.
Weve worked tremendously hard for this, and weve gotten faster with every race, Tom Terhaar, Columbias lightweight crew coach, said. Its good to be up there with the fastest, finally.
This spring the Varsity, JV and 1st Freshman boats posted identical 71 regular-season records, losing only to Yale. The freshmen would avenge their loss at the Eastern Sprints, the post-season regatta that gathers the best crews in this half of the country (only lightweight varsities also go on to the IRA). They took the silver behind Princeton, a rival not on the Lions regular-season schedule. The JVs also won a medal, the bronze, losing only to Princeton and Yale.
With the Varsitys fourth placeedged for third at the final stroke by Yalethe Columbia lightweights had their best showing ever at the Sprints.
In the Jope Cup, the competition based on a teams overall performance at the Eastern Sprints, Columbiain a tie for second with Yalewas beaten only by Princeton.
Extraordinary as this performance was, it did not come unexpectedly to followers of collegiate rowing.
Columbias results have been among the best [by] lightweight crews in the country for the past couple of years under the tutelage of Tom Terhaar, wrote Chip Davis in an article from the Independent Rowing News that was reprinted in the IRA program. Daviss confidence in the Lions potential was such that he went on to claim that Columbia could go home with a medal, including the gold.
Perfect Day for a Race
At the IRA the light-blues made Davis appear clairvoyant by clocking the second-fastest time in the morning heats without really pushing themselves. For the final that afternoon, a large crowd gathered to watch in perfect racing conditions: flat water, without wind or current to so much as ruffle it, and plenty of sunshine. The six crews blasted off the start together, but it wasnt long before Cornell and Rutgers slipped back. Columbia stuck with the lead pack of Harvard, Yale and Princeton, having learned from its overcautious start at the Sprints that, once down, it was nearly impossible to come back on them.
With 1000 meters gone and 1000 to go, Princeton made a move to the front. Columbia responded, easily passing Yale and getting well up on Harvard. In the final several hundred meters Princeton sprinted. The Lions didnt counter the Tigers this time, though. Seeing that they didnt have the water to take back from Princeton what they had lost, the Lions decided to consolidate their brilliant showing by keeping Yale and Harvard well in their wake as the boats churned the final meters to the finish.
A huge roar hailed Columbias name as the loudspeaker boomed the race results to the crowd evidently delighted to learn of a newcomer in the elites midst.
It was awesome, Terhaar said.
On to Henley
But the coach remains undistracted despite the elation surrounding the IRA and the plans to go on to Englands Henley Royal Regatta, July 1st through 5th, where the crew will have another chance to dethrone the Tigers, and the talk by Harvard and Princeton of scheduling regular season races against Columbia.
From now on its not going to get any easier, he said, but now that we know we can get in the medals, our next step is to win.