Lightweight Men Cap Season With Solid Performance at IRA Championships
June 2, 2007
COOPER RIVER, N.J. - The MIT lightweight crew team comported itself with good racing maturity, tenacity and a visible desire for a strong competitive performance at the 2007 IRA Regatta. The lightweights represented three of the four men's boats sent by the Engineers to the intercollegiate national championships and nearly pulled off some of the weekend's biggest upsets.
"We still have a ton of work to do in preparation for next year," noted head coach Ted Benford, "but we leave the season more encouraged, more confident, and more determined to succeed."
The freshman four fell just short in an exhilarating race in the Petite Final. The finish was too close to call at the line, and the athletes and coaches were left waiting for the official results to be announced. The Engineers closed third in the photo finish with a time of 6:38.74. Navy won the race in 6:38.44, while Grand Valley secured runner-up honors (6:38.57).
The race featured a quick start, and although every team looked to create separation, none of the teams were able to assert control through the first 1000 meters. After shutting down a charge from Orange Coast at 900m, MIT, Grand Valley and Navy pulled away from the field and continued to fight it out. As one boat would put a bowball in front, the other two would respond and pull them back. In the last 500m, Navy and MIT started its sprint. Grand Valley let MIT go and then with 30 strokes left in the sprint, they went for it. In the last 10 strokes, Navy had pulled out a slight lead with Grand Valley surging.
MIT's frosh boat endured a rough start in the semis and were fifth off the line rather than taking its usual early lead. Despite the slow beginning, the Engineers gave Harvard and Princeton a scare with a huge charge in the last 700m to nearly steal the third and final slot in the Grand Final. Unfortunately, the Crimson prevailed by about half a deck to join Yale and Princeton, which finished first and second, respectively.
The straight four also had a tough start in their semi-final race. With only three teams able to qualify for the top finals, Tech needed to push hard for a spot in the top 12. Like the frosh lights, MIT once again had to chase third place - in this case the Rutgers heavyweights - who took a commanding boat length lead after 700m. At the 1000m mark, as planned, the Engineers orchestrated a major push and tried to swing momentum in their favor. The surge enabled MIT to pick up three seats on Rutgers. Going into the final sprint, MIT was continuing to surge but finished less than one second behind the Scarlet Knights to finish fourth overall.
The straight four responded with their strongest race of the season in the final. Brown sprinted ahead at the start with MIT leading a large chase-pack. In the first half of the race, MIT asserted itself into second place ahead of Michigan, Boston University, Temple and Lehigh and began chasing down Brown who had broken open on the field. With 500 meters to go, MIT re-established contact on the Bears and coming into the last 20 strokes, Tech was powerfully eating into their lead. At the finish, MIT once again fell just short, although the Cardinal and Gray finished comfortably ahead of the Wolverines for second place. The top three times in Saturday's final included Brown 6:31.81; MIT 6:33.10; and Michigan 6:36.81.
"Although we fell short by two seats, our guys showed major leaps in maturation and delivered one of the strongest sprints I have seen from the varsity lightweight team," said Benford.
After finishing fifth in a well-separated field, the men's pair advanced to the Third-Level Final. Following a re-start to the final, MIT and Princeton pulled away from the field with a strong opening 500m. The Tigers proved to have better horsepower as the race developed, although Ryan Daspit and Alex Hayman authored a negative-split performance with a powerful second half. Finishing comfortably in second, the Engineers finished ahead of Dartmouth and Minnesota, which secured the next two spots.
Stroke - Ryan Daspit
Bow - Alex Hayman