Varsity Heavyweights Bounce Back to Edge Penn as Blackwell Cup Boasts Host of 'Barnburners'
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars
DERBY, Conn. -- No matter how much fans laid out on the trip to Derby for Saturday's Blackwell Cup regatta on the Housatonic, one thing is for sure -- they certainly got their money's worth!
All four races in the regatta were close. The three crews in the varsity eights were separated by just 6.4 seconds, the second varsity trio by just 2.5 seconds. The margin between first and second in the third varsity eights was 5.1 seconds, and in the fourth varsity eights, 3.1 seconds more. No wonder Columbia head coach Scott Alwin used the word "barnburner."
Alwin actually was describing the second varsity race, in which Penn edged Columbia by 9/10 of a second, 5:30.3 to 5:31.2, with Yale third in 5:32.8.
"That was the most exciting race of the day," Alwin said. "When the three crews emerged from the turn in the second 500 meters, they were within one seat of each other."
Although Penn pulled out the victory, the Lions were elated to beat Yale on its home course.
Yale defended the Blackwell Cup in the first varsity race, but it wasn't easy. The Bulldogs had to hold off Columbia, just as the Lions were overtaking and then holding off Penn, with the crowds roaring at the finish line.
  The home eight won in 5:23.7, 5.4 seconds better than Columbia, which was exactly one second better than Penn. In the Childs Cup regatta in Philadelphia one week earlier, Penn had defeated Columbia by .8 seconds.
"Penn has a good team," Alwin said, "but we showed we could beat them. It showed that [we] believe in ourselves, fighting back even after giving Penn a one-length lead after the first thousand."
"The first varsity was our best performance of the day," he continued. "Even tough we did not get off to a great start, we rowed better in the first 1000 by not allowing the other two to pull away to a big lead. In the second half of the race, we rowed with a lot more urgency."
The productive tailwind that had prevailed in the first two events increased in intensity for the final two, playing havoc with the less-skilled and experienced third and fourth varsity rowers. Columbia struggled in the third varsity race, and although both had difficulty with the conditions in the final race, fighting through whitecaps on the Housatonic, Columbia narrowly missed a victory over Penn.
Alwin was pleased with the advances his crews had made in the opening weeks.
"Each of our crews made clear progress," he said. "They definitely were faster this week."
Columbia will row for the Doc Lusins Trophy in Syracuse next week against the Orange and Boston University's Terriers.
The results:

The Blackwell Cup
(Columbia, Penn, Yale)
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Housatonic River, Derby, Conn.

Varsity Eights
1. Yale, 5:23.7
2. Columbia, 5:29.1
3. Penn, 5:30.1

Second Varsity Eights
1. Penn, 5:30.3
2. Columbia, 5:31.2
3. Yale, 5:32.8

Third Varsity Eights
1. Yale, 5:37.9
2. Penn, 5:43.0
3. Columbia, 5:51.0

Fourth Varsity Eights
1. Penn, 5:56.6
2. Columbia, 5:59.7

Today's Boatings:

Varsity Eight
Colin Keane, cox; Emmett Gross, stroke; Connor Jones, 7; Buck Goggin, 6; Alex Barkume, 5; Clemens Auersperg, 4; Ben Coombs, 3; Josh Fram, 2; Matt Ridgeway, bow

Second Varsity Eight
Daniel Hong, cox; Daniel Kolbe, stroke; Andrew Bair, 7; Elliot Meade, 6; Connor Coughlin, 5; Christian Aral, 4; Zach Ellenbogen, 3; Sam Harris, 2; Jonathon Rosow, bow
Third Varsity Eight
Oliver Jennings, cox; Jack Michaud, stroke; Brent Laurint, 7; Matthew Panton, 6; John Clapp, 5; Max Lawton, 4; James Glynn, 3; Killian Brackey, 2; Max Lindemann, bow

Fourth Varsity Eight
Andrew Tang, cox; John Sluis, stroke; Nicolaas Woudenberg, 7; J. Rothman, 6; Tucker Klutey, 5; Rob Cornacchia, 4; Alastair Clements, 3; Gregory Klumpp, 2; Jake Petterson, bow