Depth Keys Lightweights' Sweep at Passaic Regatta
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars
LYNDHURST, N.J. -- Head lightweight rowing coach Scott Alwin and his staff were pleased how their crews adjusted to the numbing temperatures on the fall's coldest day. They were pleased by how they navigated the tough 2.5 mile-Passaic River course, dotted with bridges and docks.
But most of all, they were pleased by the Lions' demonstrated depth and talent, well on view as Columbia swept the top four places in the Men's Open 8+ at the Head of the Passaic.
Aided by the rule passed last spring making first-year students eligible for men's varsity rowing, Alwin sent four eights out on to the Passaic, then watched as they placed one through four in the eight-boat field.
Columbia B, stroked by junior Anders Smedsrud, took top honors, in 12:01.86, followed by Columbia A, stroked by first-year Colin Ross, in 12:06.45.
Columbia C, led by sophomore stroke Griffin Whitlock, was third in 12:27.84, and Columbia D, behind stroke Conor Murphy, another first-year, was fourth in 13:36.07.
Two boats from the Friends of Port, a rowing club, followed, not far behind the D boat in 13:44.10 and 13:48.40.
"This race was very good for our depth," Alwin noted. "That was our main objective. The Head of the Passaic gave our whole team a chance to row and show its depth."
The veteran lightweights coach smiled as he looked forward to the intrasquad competition necessary to hone his rowers in the weeks and months ahead.
"Every rower who rowed today," he said, "in any of the eights, should be able to row varsity this season." That competition, Alwin said, would lead them, "to work very hard, to be faster than each other."
Two members of Columbia's international contingent, Smedsrud and sophomore Fredrik Aasaaren, topped off the Lion effort on the Passaic when they teamed to win the Men's Open 2x in the afternoon. Pairing up, as they had done many times in their native Oslo, Norway, they rowed the course in 15:42.66 to defeat pairs from Passaic River Rowing and the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights.
"I love our guys having the opportunity to row in small boats," Alwin said.
The lightweights had opened the Fall 2012 season in mid-September, returning to the challenging GMS Challenge in New Milford, Conn., for the first time since 2010
Although times and results were not available, still awaiting conversion from Masters race conventions, the Lions excelled on the waters of Lake Lillinonah in Lovers Leap State Park, placing 1-2-3-5-7-8 in the pairs, and among the leaders in the singles.
"The GMS," Alwin said, "was a fun outing on great water in a beautiful setting. We entered our rowers in the Challenge as a reward for their hard work over the summer."
Both regattas served as preps for the famed Head of the Charles Regatta on Boston's Charles River next Sunday, October 21. The lightweights will join their women's and heavyweight counterparts there.

Today's results:

The Head of the Passaic
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Passaic River, Lyndhurst, N.J.

Men's Open Eights (2.5 miles)

1. Columbia B, 12:01.86
2. Columbia A, 12:06.45
3. Columbia C, 12:27.84
4. Columbia D, 13:36.07
5. Friends of Port A, 13:44.10
6. Friends of Port D, 13:48.40
7. New York University, 16:24.29
8. Passaic River Racing-Stevens Institute, 17:14.77

Men's Open Pairs  (2.5 miles)

1. Columbia, 15:42.66
2. Passaic River Racing-Stevens Institute, 18:05.71
3. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, 21:48.27
Today's Boatings:


Columbia A
Stone Cao, cox; Colin Ross, stroke; Travis Simon, 7; John O'Mara, 6; Jacob Buczek, 5; John Hold, 4; John Zucchi, 3; Matt Bellesheim, 2; Roger Stone, bow

Columbia B
Erica Cunningham, cox; Anders Smedsrud, stroke;  James Winford, 7; Fredrik Aasaaren, 6; John Rosow, 5; Blake Pinell, 4; Dan Puttmann, 3; Connor Dougherty, 2; Fletcher Sims, bow

Columbia C
Matt Coughlin, cox; Griffin Whitlock, stroke; Chris Hatzis, 7; Lane Brokaw, 6; Oliver Ingram, 5; Ben Blair, 4; Matt Taylor, 3; Curtis Kachline, 2; Andrew Bartholomew, bow

Columbia D
Yih-Jen Ku, cox; Conor Murphy, stroke; Kevin Mangan, 7; Steven Boyle, 6; Colin Smith, 5; Max Segall, 4; Mojo Ajayi, 3; Darius Grayer, 2; Brian McGrattan  bow


Anders Smedsrud, Fredrik Aasaaren