Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Dissapointing Finale Not Yet Water Under the Bridge for Crew Teams

Sunday evening brought the Eastern Sprints to a slightly disappointing close, and Georgetown crew finds itself with two weeks of training to go before the conclusion of the 2005 season.

As the 103rd IRA Regatta – the national championship in Camden, N.J., held from June 2-4 – approaches, expectations are particularly high for the men’s lightweights. The competition not only follows a second-place finish in last year’s varsity eight race, but it also serves as the last hurrah for five graduating seniors.

“You know it’s your last chance. You want to end your career on a positive note,” said senior men’s lightweight captain James O’Gara. “We’re willing to work very hard over the next [two] weeks.”

Their training – twice a day, every day, without the distractions of classes or final exams – comes after a discouraging finish at the Eastern Sprints, which saw the men’s lightweight eights finish the 2,000 meters in fifth place. The first three finishers – Harvard, Yale and Cornell – all broke the previous course record, but the merits of their performances provide little consolation to Georgetown’s rowers.

“We felt like we didn’t have our best race and could have raced better,” said O’Gara, who described the race as “brutally competitive.”

“I don’t think the Eastern Sprints were indicative of our full potential,” he added.

The lightweight men started well enough, and they found themselves in third place at the halfway mark. But Harvard and Navy, who initially lagged behind Georgetown, were able to outpace the Hoyas as the race neared completion, and the Midshipmen claimed fourth place.

As for the men’s and women’s heavyweight teams, the Eastern Sprints were by no means a watershed. The men’s varsity eight finished third out of five teams in the third-level race, and in a race on the same level, the second varsity eight finished second among three.

The women’s varsity eight claimed second out of four in the third-level final, and the second varsity eight took sixth of six in the petite final. The varsity four took fourth in the four-team third division.

An impressive finish was recorded, however, by the lightweight men’s second team, which took first in its second-level final with a time of 5:54.5. Yale, Rutgers, Columbia and Delaware filled out the field.

And the two boats of the women’s lightweight four – whose varsity eight counterparts finished fourth of four – took third and fifth place in a grand final of six teams.

“I was pretty pleased with our performances in the various races,” women’s lightweight captain Emily Spiegel said. “I think it’s a very good sign that our lightweight fours have done as well as they have. . It just shows how far our program has come over the course of this year and the past few years.”

Spiegel is graduating, too. And like O’Gara, she takes pride in her team’s development over the last four years.

“The lightweight program has gotten a lot larger [and] we’ve grown in seriousness as well,” she says. “A lot of it is a mental battle at this point, just because all the schools that we’re up against are huge programs and very strong, very established programs. [But] that’s something we’re becoming as well, so we’re really looking to make this year an indication of how much we’ve grown, and how much stronger we’ve become.”

The IRA Regatta, then, will serve as the finale to some distinguished rowing careers. Spiegel, for one, remarks that crew “has been a part of my life for four years now, and it’s going to be very different not starting my day with the team and on the water and training. I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet.”

Nostalgia, of course, comes easier to the rower whose career ends at the Eastern Sprints, as Spiegel will not be attending the IRAs. But for O’Gara, the significance of the national championship is clear.

“It’s our last chance to get it right,” he said.

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