LEONIA, N.J. -- The second-ranked Columbia varsity lightweight eight gave everything it had, but it wasn't enough to topple top-ranked Cornell from its perch, as the Big Red won back the Geiger Cup from the Lions on Overland Lake.
    
Cornell captured the first and third varsity eights, and the fourth varsity fours, but Columbia came through with a smashing 12-second victory over the Big Red and third-place MIT.
    
"[Our rowing] today was good basic elements done well," head coach Nich Lee Parker noted. "We continue to improve."
    
That was certainly evident in the varsity eights race for the Geiger Cup, which Columbia won last season. The contest was basically even until the second 500 meters.
    
"Cornell made a great move in the second 500," Parker recalled. "They went into the lead. We managed to hold that margin, but we never caught up."
    
Rowing an aggressive, opportunistic race, Columbia threatened again and again, particularly in the second half of the 2000-meter race. "We would push up," Parker said, "and Cornell would push back."
    
In one such instance, near the final meters, Columbia made a move right in front of the spectators' observation platform, eliciting a mighty cheer as it appeared the Lions would take the lead, but Cornell applied some added oomph and opened up a comfortable margin again.
    
"There was a lot of jockeying," Parker said, but conceded that "we never came back even with them."
    
That was the Big Red's dilemma in the second varsity eights race. Try as they might, they could not catch up to Columbia once the Lions had taken an early lead.
    
"We focused on our race scenario," assistant coach Jesse Foglia said. "We hadn't been responding to it, but today we knew our race plan and executed it."
    
Columbia took the early lead, and shed Cornell's boat by the 1000-meter mark. In the third 500, Foglia said, "Cornell came back and we stamped it right there. We used our closing speed in the last 500 to lead by open water." The Lions won going away in 6:21.3, to Cornell's 6:33.2 and MIT's 6:54.2.
    
Although losing by 1.7 seconds, Columbia's third varsity "raced extremely well," as Foglia said. "We rowed a really gutsy race, and we were patient, waiting to make our move."
    
The fours race was proceeding as expected, with the two Cornell fours leading while Columbia bided its time. But just when Columbia made its move, the coach noted, "They ran out of race course."
    
Columbia finished 4.8 seconds from Cornell B, 11 seconds from Cornell A.
    
"All of our crews exhibited improved execution today," Nich Lee Parker noted. "We'll look to row better against Dartmouth tomorrow." Columbia hosts the Big Green in the Subin Cup regatta on Overpeck Sunday, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

The results:

The Geiger Cup
(Columbia, MIT, Cornell)
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Overpeck Lake, Leonia, N.J.

Varsity Eights
1. Cornell, 6:20.7
2. COLUMBIA, 6:23.8
3. MIT, 6:57.6

Second Varsity Eights
1. COLUMBIA, 6:21.3
2. Cornell, 6:33.2
3. MIT, 6:54.2

Third Varsity Eights
1. Cornell, 6:18.3
2. COLUMBIA, 6:20.0
3. MIT, 6:57.6

Fourth Varsity Fours
1. Cornell A, 7:01.8
2. Cornell B, 7:08.5
3. COLUMBIA, 7:13.3

Today's Columbia Boatings

Varsity Eight
Erica Cunningham, cox; Griffin Whitlock, stroke; Petros Krommidas, 7; Fredrik Aasaaren, 6; Jacob Buczek, 5; Matt Bellesheim, 4; David Mottola, 3; Connor Dougherty, 2; James Winford, bow

Second Varsity Eight
Yih-Jen Ku, cox; Anders Smedsrud, stroke; Ben Blair, 7; Colin Ross, 6; Max Fenner, 5; Oliver Gruterich, 4; Lane Brokaw, 3; Oliver Ingram, 2; Steven Boyle, bow
 
Third Varsity Eight
Darius Grayer, bow; A. Bartholomew, stroke; Conor Murphy, 7; Bryan Ptucha, 6; Chris Hatzis, 5; Daniel Puttman, 4; John Hold, 3; Brian McGrattan, 2; Noah Rivkin, bow

Fourth Varsity Four
Julia Groh, bow; Warner Brown, stroke; Travis Simon, 3; Max Segall, 2; Colm Smith, bow