April 10, 2006
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The MIT Men's team took a bold step in March by combining their Heavy and Light squads. The joining of the teams occurred in time for the squads to spend their entire spring break learning to work together and prepare for the upcoming spring racing season.
"The combination provides racing opportunities at the EARC level for our growing men's team and enables our boatings to be more complete and competitive" said men's lightweight coach Ted Benford.
At the beginning of the 2006 spring campaign, it became clear that the varsity lightweight team's season was in peril. The young team started the year with only nine athletes and with injuries, the squad was reduced below an eight. Without an eight, the team was going to lose opportunities to race in traditional EARC cup races and the Eastern Sprints.
The guys on the squad however were undeterred, training in fours and small boats preparing for a competitive season. The heavyweight squad, while deeper, was looking at the possibility of fielding a second varsity with freshmen. By combining forces, the team has been able to create competitive opportunities for all its male rowers while strengthening boats at every level of the program.
"The blending of our squads has resulted in the lightweights getting the chance to race and has improved both the depth and quality of the MIT men's crew" commented men's heavyweight coach, Gordon Hamilton.
The freshman squads were the first to see benefits of a combined effort. Last weekend, the first freshman eight fielded a squad that included a lightweight rower in a victory over the Columbia first freshmen.
"We put Russell (Ryan) in the bow for a few practices and immediately I saw the bow riding higher and the hull running better. We tested him in seat races and he earned his spot" commented heavyweight freshman coach Dan Perkins.
The second freshman battled the entire 2000-meter course only seats away from a victory against Army as well. After the race, lightweight freshman coach Matt Berean was optimistic.
"The addition of several stronger guys to our second boat has provided the opportunity for speed that would have been difficult to obtain otherwise. The tight race against a substantially larger Army boat suggests that with more time the boat will be able to realize that speed."
The teams will spend considerable time over the coming weeks continuing the joint effort toward improved results and a competitive team that gives all rowers the opportunity to train and race at the highest levels of EARC rowing.