Rowers Rock at CRASH-B Sprints

With the waters of the Charles still frozen prior to the spring thaw, the Harvard men’s and Radcliffe women’s crew teams turned to a surprising venue for their first event of the year: the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Boston.

Indoors.

The temporary change of scenery phased neither the Crimson nor the Black and White, however, as both squads turned in strong finishes in the CRASH-B Sprints World Indoor Rowing Championships.

Competing individually, the rowers raced not in boats, but on ergometers, with each oarsman navigating a 2000-meter course.

“[To prepare] we spend more time doing power training on the erg, which has short pieces at a higher intensity,” sophomore Aaron Holzapfel said. “We also spent a lot of time counterbalancing that with endurance training.”

Harvard

As during the Head of the Charles, the lightweights led the charge for the Crimson, with junior Dave Stephens capturing first place and three other Harvard rowers right behind him in the top ten in the men’s lightweight college finals.

Stephens finished second in the preliminary heat, rowing a time of 6:19.70, just 1 second behind heat-winner Brian MacLaughlin of Georgetown.

“In the heats, they let ten people through to the final, and you don’t know how fast everyone else is going,” Stephens said. “I just picked a time that I thought would be fast enough to go through to the final.”

In the ten-man final, however, Stephens shaved a remarkable 7.2 seconds from his time, propelling him into first place, well ahead of the pack. The second place finisher clocked in 4.5 seconds behind.

Freshman Jonah Todd-Geddes followed closely behind, reaching the finish in a time of 6:21.50 in the heat, placing him third headed into the finals. A time of 6:25.30, however, dropped him back to 7th in the college ranks.

Finishing immediately behind Todd-Geddes, in eighth place, was senior Nick Blannin, who raced under the alias “Agatta Knunee (I got a new knee)” poking fun at the operation which he underwent during the summer offseason.

He eked into the finals, claiming the tenth and last position in a time of 6:23.60, but took advantage of the opportunity, finishing in 6:25.80, good enough to move him two slots higher in the standings.

Rounding out the Harvard foursome was senior Chris Angell, who, after an eighth place finish in the preliminary round and a time of 6:21.6, fell one spot to ninth place, finishing in 6:26.90.

In the open men’s college category, the Crimson followed its lightweight success by capturing four of the top ten heavyweight positions.

Holzapfel, stroking as Kevin McHale of LFJA Club, earned the highest honors for Harvard.