Rowers Conclude Fall Campaign at Princeton's Three-Mile Chase
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Collegiate fall rowing is designed to be an educational experience. Rowers learn what is expected of them, and how to go about achieving it. Coaches learn what their crews can and cannot do, and what they will have to work on during a long winter's preparation for the spring.
The Princeton Chase, a head race regatta consisting of three-mile races for dozens of crews on Princeton's Lake Carnegie, provided the final fall classroom for many collegiate programs, including Columbia's.
While many lessons were taught Sunday, none were sharper than that "taught" by one Columbia women's four-oared shell. It was particularly valuable for the Lion women, competing for the first time this fall under a new head coach, Scott Ramsey.
Having dodged by a day the huge snowstorm that slammed the Northeast, Ramsey was enthused by the conditions at Lake Carnegie. Although the shorelines and launching areas were seas of mud, the lake itself couldn't have been much better.
"The conditions on the water were pretty ideal," he said. So was the performance of his Varsity B four.
"They brought it," he said. "They rowed the way our eights were supposed to, the way we wanted all of our boats to row.
"They took a different approach than our other boats. They approached the race with aggression. They rowed at a higher cadence, and poured it on in the [closing] sprint. They finished six seconds better than our A four."
The Columbia B four placed sixth in the 30-boat field, rowing the three-mile course in 17:31.91, topping the A's 17:37.14 for ninth place, with Columbia C 14th in 18:07.67 and the D boat's 18:46.65 for 24th. The Lion B beat all other B's except Princeton, and a number of A's.
It consisted of stroke Lily Keane, Alexandra Delaney at 3, Bailey Griswold at 2, Lottie Galliano in bow, and Gabrielle Barilla coxing.
Most of Columbia's other women's entries disappointed Ramsey, who felt it reflected "a mediocre week of practice". He conceded, however, that midterm exams could have caused some of that.
One Lion shell that overcame mediocrity was the varsity C eight. Although it only finished 44th, Ramsey noted, "it rowed aggressively and had a really strong sprint." The C eight consisted mostly of rowers who had fallen behind this fall due to injuries.
Heavyweights head coach Mike Zimmer regretted his crews' missed opportunity.
"This was our opportunity to do better than we did at the Head of the Charles last week," he said, citing his two varsity eights. "We were not as focused as we should have been."
The Lions' A eight actually mirrored its 2010 performance, finishing in the same place as last year, fifth, its time of 13:21.50 just nine seconds off last season's 13:12.496.
"That's still a decent result," Zimmer said, "but I expected a higher performance." Columbia B finished a disappointing 26th of 38 in 14:21.93.
The rowers in the morning's eights competition also represented Columbia in the afternoon fours races. The A and B fours were eighth and 10th in a 40-boat field. "The fours were decent," the coach said.
Zimmer was pleased with his freshman eights, competing in the first action of their college careers.
"They did a really nice job of being ready to go," he noted. "They were very professional. Of all the heavyweight boats, the [freshman rowers] were the closest to performing like we had been doing in practice."
The A freshman eight was sixth in a 36-boat field that included 15 lightweight eights. They were third among heavyweight eights, in 14:19.01, trailing only Princeton and Navy in the star-studded field.
There were no real standouts among Columbia's lightweight competitors on Lake Carnegie, according to head coach Scott Alwin. Lion eights were seventh of 27 in the varsity race, 15th of 36 in the mixed heavyweight/lightweight freshman race (sixth of 15 among lightweights), and 11th and 19th among four fours in the 35-boat Varsity Lightweight Fours.
Alwin downplayed the lightweight performances, focusing on the experience they gained and lessons learned.
"The Princeton Chase was our fourth competition this fall," he said, "including the Head of the Charles, Head of the Passaic, and a scrimmage in Overpeck Park in New Jersey. A lot of team members got to row, and they have been rowing a lot."
That, the coach noted, "the importance of good racing experience," far outweighed their actual performances. "Twenty-five men rowed two times today," said, referring to stints in the eights and fours, "and 20 more rowed one time. Today's rowing was quality rowing; it should prepare the team well for the winter."
Columbia will not take to the water in earnest again until training trips down south in January and March.
Today's results:

The Princeton Chase (three-mile head races)
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Lake Carnegie, Princeton, N.J.

Varsity Heavyweight Eights (38 boats)

5. Columbia A, 13:21.50
26. Columbia B, 14:21.93

Freshman Heavyweight Eights (36 boats)
6. Columbia, 14:19.01
15. Columbia Lightweight A, 14:46.19
34. Columbia Lightweight B, 17:07.88

Varsity Heavyweight Fours (40 boats)
8. Columbia A, 15:10.19
10. Columbia B, 15:13.11
22. Columbia C, 15:48.10

Varsity Lightweight Eights (27 boats)
7. Columbia A, 13:43.51
17. Columbia B, 14:22.38
26. Columbia C, 15:6.32

Freshman Lightweight Eights (36 boats; 15 lightweight boats)
6. Columbia Freshman Heavyweights, 14:19.01
15. Columbia Lightweight A, 14:46.19
34. Columbia Lightweight B, 17:07.88

(among lightweight boats only)
6. Columbia Lightweight A
15. Columbia Lightweight B

Varsity Lightweight Fours (35 boats)
11. Columbia A, 15:40.62
19. Columbia B, 15:59.22
23. Columbia C, 16:02.28
24. Columbia D, 16:06.84

Varsity Women's Eights (49 boats)
13. Columbia A, 15:37.86
25. Columbia B, 16:29.20
44. Columbia C, 17:08.83

Varsity Women's Fours (30 boats)
6. Columbia B, 17:31.91
9. Columbia A, 17:37.14
14. Columbia C, 18:07.67
24. Columbia D, 18:46.65