Entering the 2004-05 season, the University of Pennsylvania heavyweight rowing team wanted to be more competitive within the Ivy League and against EARC rivals. The Red and Blue did just that as they strived to reach their goals during a solid year on the water.
The Quakers appeared in two races during the fall season to gear up for the always competitive spring campaign. The Red and Blue opened its season at the annual Head of the Charles Regatta on Oct. 24. The freshman eight was the only Penn crew to race at the regatta, competing in the youth eight event and placed third with a time of 11:41.2. A strong northeasterly wind cut the course was shortened by about 800m (a total distance of approximately 2.3 miles).
At the Head of the Schuylkill, the men’s novice eight grabbed highest finish on the afternoon with a second-place showing in a time of 13:13.04. The Quakers finished third in the men’s novice four with a coxswain final, crossing the finish line in a time of 16:15.75. The Red and Blue placed 11th in the championship eight race in a time of 13:19.47, while Penn’s second boat in the race nabbed the 13th spot in a time of 13:24.82. The Quakers also had two other boats compete in the men’s novice eight and finished 12th and 27th in times of 14:09.83 and 15:48.85, respectively.
Penn opened the spring season with a solid showing at the San Diego Crew Classic on April 2-3. Competing against some of the top crews in the country, the Quakers made Grand Final appearances in both the varsity and second varsity eights and placed in the top-five in each event. The varsity eight placed fifth in a very tight race for the Copley Cupwith a time of 5:53.49. Second-ranked California took the race with a time of 5:43.7. Stanford was the runner-up with a time of 5:45.17, while No. 8 Northeastern (5:45.92)edged out the fifth-ranked Navy (5:47.93) for third by one-hundredth of a second. In the men’s junior varsity grand final, Penn placed fourth with a time of 6:08.47, besting boats from Stanford (6:10.26) and Orange Coast College (6:43.20).
The Quakers opened up cup competition on April 9 on the Cooper River facing Princeton and Columbia in the Childs Cup. Top-ranked Princeton proved to be a very tough competitor as it captured the varsity eight in a time of 6:07.7. Columbia was the runner-up with a time of 6:21.9, while Penn finished in a time of 6:23.7. The day was highlighted by the Red and Blue’s impressive novice eight victory. The Quakers rowed a time of 6:20.1to finish6.2 seconds ahead of Princeton (6:26.3). In the second varsity race, Princeton again proved to be a solid competitor capturing the event in a time of 6:26.4. Penn was the runner-up with a time of 6:40.0.
One week later, Penn was edged by Yale on the Housatonic River in the battle for the Blackwell Cup, but the Red and Blue took the novice eight race in dominating fashion. Yale captured the varsity eight race with a time of 5:49.9 edging Penn (5:53.1) by less than four seconds. Columbia rowed in third with a time of 6:01.3. In the novice eight, Penn bested Yale by almost 10 seconds to take the event. The Quakers posted a time of 5:43.4, while Yale finished with a time of 5:53.3. Columbia finished third with a time of 5:56.4. In the second varsity eight, the Elis took the top two spots as the second varsity finished with a time of 5:48.6 and the third varsity posted a time of 5:51.5. Penn was third with a mark of 5:56.8.
The Quakers could not overtake top-ranked Harvard in the Adams Cup as the varsity eight rowed in third with a time of 6:04.1. Harvard stroked a winning time of 5:42.1 while fourth-ranked Navy placed second with a mark of 5:59.2. The Red and Blue also placed third in the second varsity eight with a time of 6:05.9. Navy took the top spot with a time of 5:53.9 and Harvard was the runner-up with a time of 6:00.7. The Quakers finished second in the novice eight just 2.1 seconds behind Harvard (5:44.6), while Navy came in third with a time of 6:08.4.
Against Northeastern in the quest for the Burk Cup, Penn fell to the Huskies on a very windy Charles River. Both teams fought shifting, 20 mph cross-head and cross-tail winds throughout the course. Third-ranked Northeastern captured its fourth-straight cup by more than three lengths in the varsity eight with a time of 5:52.4 while Penn finished with a time of 6:07.5. The Red and Blue took the novice eight with a time of 6:00.6 to edge the Huskies who rowed in with a 6:02.5. In the second varsity, the Quakers posted a time of 6:13 but it was not enough as Northeastern clocked a time of 6:09.6 to remain undefeated on the season.
The Red and Blue put forth an impressive performance at the 2005 Eastern Sprints all three boats (varsity, second varsity and freshman eight) placed in the top-15 overall in their respective divisions.
The Quakers’ freshman eight placed fourth in the Grand Final with a time of 5:45.368. It was the best finish by a Penn freshman boat since 1997 when the Quakers captured the Grand Final. Brown took the event in 5:41.782, while Princeton was the runner-up in a time of 5:42.755. Harvard finished third in a time of 5:43.303. The second varsity eight finished ninth overall after placing second in the Petite Final. Boston University took the petite final in a time of 5:46.180 while Penn clocked a 5:50.173. The varsity eight captured the Third Level Final in a time of 5:45.537 to finish 13th overall.
At the Madeira Cup a margin of 2.4 seconds stood between the Red and Blue and the Cup as Cornell edged the Quakers on the Schuylkill River. The Big Red posted a winning time of 5:48.2 for the win, while the Quakers finished with a time of 5:50.6. It was Cornell’s fourth-consecutive Madeira Cup victory, bringing the Big Red’s total to 15 cups. Penn has captured 34 cups since the race’s inception in 1956. The second varsity also proved to be a close race as Cornell slipped past the Red and Blue by 2.8 seconds. The Big Red posted a time of 5:53.6 while the Quakers clocked a time of 5:56.4. Penn’s novice eight, fresh off its fourth-place finish at Eastern Sprints, captured the event in a time of 5:47.3. Cornell recorded a time of 5:59.4 in the loss.
The Quakers closed the 2004-05 season at the IRA Regatta on the Cooper River where the freshman eight finished fourth. The second varsity placed 11th overall, while the varsity placed 17th overall. The Quakers also recorded an 11th-place finish in the men’s open four with a coxswain.
The freshman eight posted a time of 5:57.33 in its fourth-place finish beating out boats from Princeton (5:59.94) and Boston University (6:02.92). California took the event with a time of 5:49.94, while Harvard finished second with a mark of 5:53.71. In the Petite Final of the second varsity eight, Penn finished fifth in the race and 11th overall with a time of 6:05.7. Harvard captured the event with a mark of 5:51.63 followed by Boston University (5:52.98), Princeton (5:55.40) and Navy (5:56.23). The Red and Blue placed fifth in the Third Level Final and 17th overall in the varsity eight for its highest finish since 2003. The men’s open four with a coxswain finished fifth in the Petite Final and 11th overall with a time of 7:00.24.
The Quakers showed that there is no shortage of talent on the squad as both the second varsity and novice boats put together a solid season on the water. Their performances are signs of good things to come as the Red and Blue strives to be a contender in the Ivy League.
-Written By Kelly McCarthy, athletic communications assistant