NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After seven months of hard training since the school year began, the spring racing season is finally here for the Yale heavyweight crew team. The crew has just finished a stretch of double sessions over Yale's two-week spring break and will soon be in the midst of the spring racing season, ready to cash in on all the hard work the team has put in over the winter. This year the Bulldogs have the usual lineup of four dual races, followed by the Eastern Sprints, IRA National Championships, and this year finishing with the Yale-Harvard Regatta.
Leading the team this year are six seniors: Tom Lynam, Philippe Mastroyannis, captain Jon Morgan, Harry Picone, Grant Stegelmann and Ian Suvak. These six athletes are setting the example in giving full measure in each workout and on each piece.
"We have been devoted to our training, had tremendous camps and really come together as a fast squad," said Morgan. "Now everyone is extremely fired up and excited to kick off the racing season with our first dual race against Brown in Providence next week."
But new this year is that alongside this group of seniors are the members of the Class of 2016. At the end of last season the IRA Stewards voted to allow first-year students to race in varsity boats. As a result, this season the freshman class is not confined to racing in the freshman eight category. Already a number of freshmen have climbed the ranks and are mixing in with the seniors, juniors and sophomores in all three varsity eights.
This past fall the Bulldogs featured at the Head of the Housatonic Regatta and the Head of the Charles Regatta. At the Charles, Yale fielded boats in three events: a championship four, championship eight and club eight, finishing second in the latter. Fall training on the Housatonic River also included a mini-training camp during Yale's fall break in October before the team took to the ergs in Payne Whitney Gymnasium.
In 2013 the heavyweights started the year off right, convening on New Years Day in Stuart, Fla., for a 10-day winter training trip. The Bulldogs put in hard work on Florida's Gold Coast, logging two-a-days on the St. Lucie River before returning to New Haven the keep the training going.
The spring season opens next week when Yale travels to Providence to take on Brown. The two teams will be racing on Friday, Mar. 29, on the Seekonk River. This race is something of a homecoming for Head Coach Steve Gladstone, who served as head coach at Brown from 1981-1994, as well as assistant coach Joel Scrogin, who was an assistant coach at Brown from 2004 to 2007.
After a weekend off the next race on the schedule is against Dartmouth at home for the Olympic Axe on Apr. 13. The heavyweights have not lost this matchup since the two teams started racing for the trophy in 2004, and last year was no exception.
The following weekend Yale hits the road to defend the Blackwell Cup, racing on assistant coach Sam Baum's home course at Penn with Columbia on Saturday, Apr. 20. This cup has been in Yale's possession each year that the Class of 2013 has been on the crew and so the seniors will seek to defend this trophy.
The Bulldogs will then go after the Carnegie Cup against Cornell and Princeton on Apr. 27. The race is at home this year, as it was three years ago when Yale last claimed the cup. In 2011 at Princeton the Tigers won this race, and last year at Cornell the Big Red defended its home course for the win. The Bulldogs will want to keep this trend going and capture the Carnegie Cup in what will be the final race to determine seedings for the Eastern Sprints.
After the dual races are done the team will have three weeks to recollect before going up against everyone in the east. This year's Eastern Sprints will be May 19, and the Bulldogs will be looking to improve on last year's eight-place finish in the varsity eight.
The team will then head out west, travelling to Sacramento, Calif., for this year's IRA National Championships. The regatta will take place over three days from May 30 – June 1 on Sacramento's Lake Natoma.
Finally the season will wrap up with the Yale-Harvard Regatta, coming after the IRA's in the schedule for the first time since 2009. The 148th edition of this matchup – the oldest intercollegiate sporting event in the country – will be held on Sunday, June 9 in New London, Conn.
Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity