For the third-straight season the University of Pennsylvania lightweight rowing team continued to make great strides in returning the success and tradition of being one of the elite crews in the Ivy League. The 2004-05 campaign was highlighted by two cup victories, a pair of top-10 finishes at the Eastern Sprints and a third-place finish at the IRA Regatta.
Penn competed in their first collegiate event of the season when they converged with many other college and club teams on the Schuylkill River for the annual Navy Day Regatta on Oct. 16. In the men’s college four, the Quakers’ “B” boat finished second with a time of 15:07.8. The Penn “A” boat came in sixth with a time of 15:32.8. Despite a windy day, the Quakers were pleased with their performances in the first event of the Regatta, as both boats finished in the top-six of the 20-boat contest. Penn’s second varsity eight boat, finished third (14:12) in the men’s lightweight eight race, where there were 11 total boats competing. The lightweight freshmen also raced a boat in the men’s club four plus a coxswain which finished first in the event with a time of 15:27.6. In the final contest of the afternoon, the Quakers first varsity boat finished fifth in the men’s college eight race with a time of 13:18.2. Penn’s first freshman boat also competed in this event and finished 12th with a time of 14:04.7.
The success continued as the varsity eight finished eighth out of 21 boats at the Head of the Charles Regatta. The boat, manned by Colin Groshong, Chris Storm, Ben Cooley, Drew Zech, Sean Cronin, Tim Mahoney, Greg Patcella, Joe McQuaid and Sebastian Paraud, clocked a time of 11:30. Due to inclement weather and safety concerns in the normal starting area of the race course, regatta officials shortened the 3.0 mile course to 2.3 miles to avoid the possible swamping conditions in the Charles River basin.
At the Head of the Schuylkill the following week, Penn was paced by second varsity eight squad which finished second behind Navy with a time of 13:06.5. The freshman four finished third (16:15.7) behind Saint Joseph’s (15:32.3) and Army (16:04.8), while the freshman eight finished 12th (14:09.8) out of 47 total entries.
The Red and Blue used that performance as preparation for the Princeton Chase an event in which they posted a solid showing. In tough racing conditions, with headwinds that gusted over 20 miles per hour, both of the Quakers first boats finished in the top-10 in the Lightweight eight and four events. The Penn “A” raced to a fourth-place finish(14:31.7) among 35 total entries, while the Penn “B”boat of finished 16th with a time of 15:41.1. In the lightweight four, the Penn “A” boat stroked to a seventh-place finish (16:43.2), while the Penn “C” boat grabbed 26th (17:30.8) and the Penn “B” crew finished 31st (17:48.0).
Penn opened the spring season on a positive note capturing its first Lev-Brett Cup since 1997 by taking two out of three races from Rutgers on Lake Carnegie. In the varsity race, Penn bested the Scarlet Knights by more than four seconds finishing with a time of 5:42.8. The freshman eight also picked up a win clocking a time of 6:03.9 for the victory. Rutgers only victory of the day came during the second varsity race as it finished in a time of 5:48.6. The Red and Blue squad rowed a time of 5:56.9.
In the quest for the Matthews-Leonard Cup on the Cooper River, Penn ran into some tough competition in Harvard and Cornell. Harvard captured thevarsity eight by clocking a time of 6:16.5 in a headwind. Cornell posted a time of 6:21.8 for a second-place finish while the Quakers came in three seconds later with a time of 6:24.8. In the second varsity eight, Harvard again took the top spot by recording a time of 6:30.9. Cornell was the runner-up with a time of 6:34.2, while Penn was third with a mark of 6:36.1. The Crimson also placed first in the novice eight with a time of 6:35.1. The Big Red clocked a 6:39.2 for second place, while Penn came in third with a time of 6:47.0.
The Quakers took what they learned from the Matthews-Leonard Cup and applied to their performance at the Dodge Cup the following week. Unfortunately, a bowball was the difference in the Dodge Cup as Yale edged the Penn by two-tenths of a second. It was a photo finish in the varsity eight race as the Elis took the event in a time of 5:57.1, just a bowball ahead of Penn, whose official time was posted as 5:57.3. Yale and Penn provided additional excitement in the second varsity race as the two finished in another virtual dead heat. The Bulldogs, however, bested the Quakers by posting a time of 5:55.1, eight-tenths of a second ahead of Penn (5:55.9). Columbia captured the novice eight event with a winning time of 5:51.8. Yale finished second with a time of 5:56.4, while Penn placed third with a time of 6:04.0
Penn picked up its second piece of hardware in three races as it captured the Wood-Hammond Trophy on April 23 on the Schuylkill River. Georgetown, a guest in the annual race, won the overall event, but the Red and Blue took home its first trophy since 1978 besting Princeton. In a very close varsity eight race, Georgetown rowed a time of six minutes flat to edge the Quakers (6:01.3)by 1.3 seconds. Princeton was 2.1 seconds off the pace of Penn clocking a time of 6:03.4 to finish in third. The Red and Blue notched a second-place finish in the novice eight with a time of 6:29.4. The Tigers recorded a time of 6:13.3 for the win, while the Hoyas were third with a mark of 6:35.7. In the second varsity eight, Penn placed third with a time of 6:17.5. Princeton posted a time of 6:12.3 to edge Georgetown (6:14.4) for the win.
The Red and Blue used that momentum as they headed into the 2005 Eastern Sprints on May 15 in Worcester, Mass. There, the Quakers posted a pair of its best finishes in recent memory as the second varsity eight placed fourth and the varsity eight placed sixth overall. In the varsity eight, Penn posted its best finish at the Eastern Sprints since 1993 by placing sixth with a time of 5:46.885. The Quakers finished fifth in 1993 and had placed in the top-10 in 10 out of 11 races but never finished higher than seventh. It was a very tight race between the top-four teams as Harvard captured the Grand Final in a time of 5:40.567 followed by Yale (5:40.791), Cornell (5:40.824) and Navy (5:41.529). In the second varsity eight, the Red and Blue finished in fourth in the Grand Final with a time of 5:55.899 for its best finish in the last eight years. Harvard took the Grand Final with in a time of 5:49.289, while Cornell placed second in 5:50.719 and Navy third in 5:51.988. The freshman eight finished 11th overall after coming in fifth in the Petite Final with a time of 6:09.651
Penn used the break in between the Sprints and the IRA Regatta to make-up the Callow Cup on May 29 on the Schuylkill River. The varsity eight was the only race of the day as the two squads made up the race that was cancelled due to weather on May 8. Navy posted a winning time of 5:50.6 while the Quakers clocked a 5:53.4 on the 2,000 meter course. It was the Midshipmen’s fifth-straight cup victory. Penn has captured 27 cups since 1955 while Navy has recorded 23 cup victories.
The 2004-05 season came to a close at the IRA Regatta on June 4 as they Quakers took bronze. In the Grand Final, the Quakers posted a time of 5:44.71just 1.32 seconds off the pace of runner-up Cornell who clocked a 5:43.39. Yale won the event with a time of 5:41.89. Penn beat out boats from Harvard (5:45.45), Georgetown (5:45.82) and Navy 5:46.90. Earlier in the day, the Quakers placed third in the second heat with a time of 5:57.65, just .65 seconds of the pace of runner-up Cornell (5:57.00). Yale took the heat with a time of 5:55.85, while Rutgers finished fourth in 6:60.1 followed by Boston College (6:11.25) and Ohio State (6:12.56).
The Quakers put forth a tremendous season on the water. With a third-place finish at the IRAs, they proved that there is no limit to what they can accomplish and should continue the trend of success for years to come.
-Written by Kelly McCarthy, athletic communications assistant