"They did good work this week," head coach Melanie Onufrieff said. "They had a good week of practice."
Nowhere was that work more evident than in the varsity eights. Columbia took the starting line against a Bison crew that had done quite well this season, and wasted little time in moving out to a lead. By just the second 500 meters, Columbia had established open water over its opponent, continuing to put more and more distance between the shells.
Fighting a strong crosswind gusting to 30 miles per hour, the Lions crossed the finish line in 7:18.0, 2.5 lengths in front of Bucknell, which came in at 7:28.7.
The Bison had just completed an impressive showing in Philadelphia's Murphy Cup, and looked good against the Columbia second varsity. The Lions came off the starting line well, but Bucknell moved into a small lead and refused to yield it.
The margin wasn't much, but the Bison held it, leading by no more than one to three seats, but leading.
Just as Columbia was passing the halfway point, it pulled level with Bucknell. The two crews maintained a pace until the third 500, when the Lions made a move to take the lead.
Still, Bucknell would not give up the race. It fought back again and again, the final time in the final 300 meters, sprinting into Columbia so impressively that the sizable Bucknell crowd let out cheers of triumph.
But it wasn't so. Columbia had hung on to the lead, winning by just 0.8 seconds, 7:32.7 to 7:33.5.
The two fours races went decisively Columbia's way. The varsity four A topped the Bison by seven seconds, while the B four crossed the line, oddly without the crossing wind the other rowers had had to battle, in 8:37.3, 8.7 seconds over Bucknell's B (the novices) and 17.7 seconds ahead of the Bison A four.
Melanie Onufrieff was pleased. "This was an improvement over last week's rowing," she said. "We were more composed than last week."
Columbia is right back at the Lagoon tomorrow, Sunday, April 2, to defend the Woodbury Cup against Northeastern. The first race is scheduled to begin at 11:35 a.m.
Columbia vs. Bucknell
April 2, 2011
Orchard Beach Lagoon, Bronx, N.Y.
1. Columbia, 7:18.0
2. Bucknell, 7:28.7
Second Varsity Eights
1. Columbia, 7:32.7
2. Bucknell, 7:33.5
Varsity Fours, A
1. Columbia, no official time
2. Bucknell, 7 seconds behind
Varsity Fours, B
1. Columbia, 8:37.3
2. Bucknell B, 8:46.0
3. Bucknell A, 8:55.0
Stephanie Ngai, cox; Nikki Bourassa, stroke; Samantha Warren, 7; Alex Hammerberg, 6; Katie Mitchell, 5; Lily Keane, 4; Meredith Mead, 3; Rebecca Randall, 2; MacKenzie Largay, bow
Second Varsity Eight
Shannon Sullivan, cox; Bailey Griswold, stroke; Fiona Duffy, 7; Kasey Koopmans, 6; Mary Nemeth, 5; Natalie Rutherford, 4; Lottie Galliano, 3; Kenzie Bess, 2; Luisa Isbell, bow
Varsity Four A
Gabrielle Barrila, cox; Louisa Mink, stroke; Alexandra Angelo, 3; Hilary Going, 2; Karli McMenamin, bow
Varsity Four B
Jessica Geiger, cox; Jennifer Wukawitz, stroke; Jessica Werlin, 3; Tamar Nisbett, 2; Sylvie Krekow, bow