PROVIDENCE, R.I. — It was a match made in rowing heaven, the second-ranked Brown Bears against the third-ranked Cornell Big Red, in the varsity eights race in the Dunn Bowl regatta on the Seekonk River. But no one had thought to include Columbia in that dream matchup, and the Lions made them pay for the oversight, rowing a superb race to edge Cornell for second by just 6/100 of a second.
The second place, Columbia's highest finish of the regatta, was just enough to make up for the dreadful conditions the rowers had to suffer through — temperatures in the low 40's, choppy water, a strong current and an even stronger headwind. "It was just miserable," head coach Melanie Onufrieff said.
The conditions contributed to long, drawn-out races, with times much slower than normal, including several eight-minute efforts, some nines, and a few slower than that.
But the three varsity eights shrugged off the conditions, coming off the starting line quickly, and in unison.
Brown soon moved into the lead. The Bears were unable to shake Columbia, though; the Lions overlapped them, refusing to allow open water to develop between them. Cornell, in turn, overlapped the Lions, also staying just short of a length away.
The race remained that tight through 1000 meters, only to see the favored Bears move to the front in the third 500. Cornell tried to do the same, but Columbia wouldn't let them go.
As hard as Cornell rowed, trying to make up distance on Columbia, the Lions stayed in front. They were still up in the final 500 meters, even after catching several "mini crabs", as Onufrieff described them.
The Lion shell faltered, and you could almost "see" the Big Red rowers thinking, "Ah, now we've got them." They surged, and surged again. And yet again. Each time, Columbia resisted.
"Cornell fought, but we held them off," the coach noted. "We held together enough to stay in front." Columbia finished second in 7:55.4, .6 better than Cornell's 7:56. Brown was the winner in 7:41.8.
"Brown and Cornell were fast crews," Onufrieff said, "but we decided to row OUR race."
Columbia closes its regular season next Saturday, April 30, in a four-team regatta on Princeton's Lake Carnegie. If you're thinking of attending, just look for a sea of orange — Princeton, Tennessee and Virginia all boast orange as one of their team colors.
The Dunn Bowl (Columbia rowing as a guest)
Columbia, Brown, Cornell
April 23, 2011
Seekonk River, Providence, R.I.
1. Brown, 7:41.8
2. Columbia, 7:55.4
3. Cornell, 7:56.0
Second Varsity Eights
1. Brown, 7:52.5
2. Cornell, 8:10.1
3. Columbia, 8:23.6
Third Varsity Eights
1. Brown, 8:18.0
2. Cornell, 8:43.8
3. Columbia, 9:50.3
Varsity Fours, A
1. Brown, 8:58.4
2. Cornell, 9:08.6
3. Columbia, 9:20.3
Varsity Fours, B & C
1. Brown B, 9:25.2
2. Cornell B, 9:29.7
3. Cornell C, 10:02.5
4. Columbia B, 10:13.4
5. Brown C, 11:59.9
Today's Boatings at Brown with Cornell:
Stephanie Ngai, cox; Nikki Bourassa, stroke; Samantha Warren, 7; Alex Hammerberg, 6; Katie Mitchell, 5; Lily Keane, 4; Meredith Mead, 3; Rebecca Randall, 2; McKenzie Largay, bow
Second Varsity Eight
Shannon Sullivan, cox; Kasey Koopmans, stroke; Fiona Duffy, 7; Natalie Rutherford, 6; Mary Nemeth, 5; Bailey Griswold, 4; Lottie Galliano, 3; Kenzie Bess, 2; Luisa Isbell, bow
Third Varsity Eight
Sarah Chang, cox; Katherine Bergstrom, stroke; Nikki Tomm, 7; Yvonne Vogt, 6; Francesca Maggi, 5; Sylvie Krekow, 4; Kate Christensen, 3; Natalie Russell, 2; Helen Van der Sluis, bow
Varsity Four A
Gabrielle Barilla, 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; Kellie Solowski, bow