Bulldogs Ready for Sprints

(photo by Don Clark, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Yale lightweight crew is back in action this weekend, as it contests its first post-season contest: the Eastern Sprints. Held Sunday, May 18th, on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., the Sprints promises to bring close contests at all levels. The race marks the end of the season for much of the crew, with only select oarsmen competing at the IRA National Championship on June 1. 

It will be a busy day of racing Sunday, with most crews facing a morning heat before an afternoon final. 

The Yale third varsity leads the Bulldogs off with an 8:36 a.m. heat. Entering the race ranked sixth, the Elis are in a competitive heat, where they will race Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Princeton "B." Yale must finish top three in the heat to qualify for the afternoon's 2:20 p.m. grand final. A petite final will be held at 2:08 p.m. 

The first varsity eight is next. After regular season losses to Cornell and Princeton, the Bulldogs are ranked fourth, and will race in the second heat against No. 1 Cornell, No. 5 Harvard, No. 7 Dartmouth and No. 9 Penn. As with the third varsity, the top three eights qualify for the grand final, the last race of the day, at 6:00 p.m.  After a second place finish at last year's regatta, the Elis will be looking to come out on top this time around. 

The second varsity eight takes to the course at 11:00 a.m. in the first of two heats. Coming off a 6-3 regular season, the Elis enter the Sprints ranked fifth. The final for the second varsity will be held at 4:06 p.m.  

Due to a decline in freshmen entries, the Yale first freshmen will race in a final-only event at 3:09 p.m. After their recent loss to Harvard at the HYP, the first freshmen eight is racing in a new look lineup, with none of the same oarsmen competing. They will face off against entries from Harvard, Cornell, Penn and Navy. Yale has won the first freshmen eight for three straight seasons. 

Y150 Alumni Head Coach of Lightweight Crew Andy Card spoke of his anticipation for the Eastern Sprints, and a chance for the team to demonstrate the improvements made since its earlier losses. 

"I really like the guys on this team; we're like Timex and keep on ticking. We've turned up the jukebox a little bit and are having a good time," Card said. "We know what's at stake and we always like racing at Quinsigamond."

"Things haven't gone as prescribed and we've made some mistakes, but these guys would be good relievers if they played baseball," Card continued. 

Senior captain Matthew O'Donoghue echoed Card's sentiments, and spoke of his excitement for Sunday's races.

"I think we've been able to dial in some of the issues highlighted in our early season races, and we're ready for a fight in Worcester."

Besides being an opportunity for the squad to end its season on a high, the Eastern Sprints also represents a chance to win important silverware. The winner of the first varsity eight will be crowned Ivy League champion. The winner of the overall team points award— based on results in the first varsity, second varsity, and first freshmen eights— will be presented the Jope Cup, which Yale has won the last two seasons. 

News, updates, and a full racing schedule can be found here.

Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity