The 2003-04 Penn heavyweight crew headed into the fall season looking to refine its technique and develop a good training base and special rowing skills in order to form the foundation of a successful year. The Quakers began their season by finishing 27th out of 41 crews in the championship eights at the Head of the Charles. Penn finished the 24m course in 14:10.89. The Red and Blue followed this performance with an eighth place finish at the Head of the Schuylkill in a time of 12:17.41, and the freshman heavyweight eight finished third at the Belly of the Carnegie with a time of 13:53.82 to complete the fall season.
The Quakers began their spring season at the Second Annual Windermere Crew Classic in Redwood Shores, Calif. While there, the varsity started strong, but lost all three of its races by just seconds to Stanford, Cal and Navy. The freshmen eight won their first race over Sacramento State with a time of 6:07.38, but were edged out by host Stanford in the second contest.
The following week, the varsity eight came back strong with a second place finish at the Childs Cup. It was the Red and Blue’s third consecutive second-place finish in the event, whose winner receives the oldest trophy in college competition. Penn won the two freshman races in 6:24.7 and 6:36.8, holding off Princeton, who finished in 6:25.3 and 6:40.4.
Penn’s season continued at the Blackwell Cup, which was contested on the Schuylkill River. There, the host-Quakers recorded two second-place finishes in the varsity eight and a second in the freshman eight, finishing behind Yale in all three races. In the second freshman eight, however, the Red and Blue grabbed their only victory of the event, finishing five seconds ahead of Yale.
The Quakers next visited Harvard, where they finished third behind Harvard and Navy in two varsity eight races and second to Harvard in the two freshman eight races. Returning home for their final cup race before the EARC Sprints, the Red and Blue took three of four races against Northeastern to win the Burk Cup.
Looking to ride the momentum of their recent home victories into the postseason, the Quakers came in fourth in their heat at the EARC Sprints in a time of 5:47.134, qualifying them for the Petite Final. The Red and Blue finished sixth in the Petite Final at the, good enough for 12th overall behind teams such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Navy.
Penn concluded the dual-meet race season by falling to Cornell in the Madeira Challenge Cup and the James Wray Memorial Trophy the next week. Cornell won the varsity eight, second varsity eight and freshman eight races to claim the cups. Penn’s lone win of the day came in the second freshman eight race, which was not part of the scoring for the Wray Trophy. The Red and Blue won the race with a time of 6:08.4.
The Penn heavyweight crew finished its season at the 2004 IRA National Championship in Camden, N.J. There, the Quakers competed against national powerhouses such as Navy, USC, North Carolina and Princeton. Capping off their season, Penn took the top prize in the heavyweight freshman eight, crossing the finish in 6:21.7. In the freshman four with cox, Penn took fourth in the Grand Final with a time of 7:04.47. The Red and Blue took fifth in the Grand Final of the open four with cox, finishing in 7:27.68, and the varsity eight placed second in the Fourth Level Final to end the season.
Written by Jennifer Hildebrand, Athletic Communications Assistant