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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.
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.”
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.
“LFJA stands for ‘live for Jesus always,” he said. “I chose that because Jesus is the only thing worth living, rowing and dying for.”
“My roommates and I chose NBA big men for our names,” he added.
Holzapfel turned in the second best time in the heat, finishing in 5:58.60, but an additional 1.6 seconds in his last effort dropped his overall finish to third in the college category.
Senior Michael Bloomquist turned in fifth place performances in both stages of the competition, finishing in times of 6:00.9 and 6:02.2 respectively.
Under the guise of Sir Ernest Shackleton, senior Justin Bosley turned in seventh place finishes in both the initial and final heat, completing his 2000 meters in 6:02.50 in the first stage and 6:03.80 in the second.
Junior Tyler Winklevoss took eighth.
Not to be outdone by their male counterparts, the women’s lightweights found glory as well, placing two in the top 10.
Senior Erin Barnhard led the Black and White, handily capturing first place among college students.
Barnhard finished the preliminary heat with a time good enough for a first place tie (7:27.10), It only hinted at her performance to come.
In the final, Barnhard dropped her time by a whopping 9.3 seconds (7:17.80), to secure the title, with a 6.2 second margin of victory.
Freshman Sarah Bates finished the qualifying heat in a time of 7:29.20, strong enough for fourth. Adding an additional 1.3 seconds to her time in the final, however, she fell four positions to seventh.
The Radcliffe heavyweights produced similar results, placing two in the top ten as well.
Junior Liz Lambert, rowing for Carla’s Angels, grabbed second in the college field, and fourth in the elite international category.
“On the Radcliffe team, we have a legend that in the Charles River, there’s a river goddess, Carla,” Lambert said. “And so [my team name is] a play on that and Charlie’s Angels.”
Lambert started the day with low expectations and a conservative mentality, looking to push herself hard, but only as hard as she needed to in the hopes of saving her energy for the finals. She finished the heat in a time of 6:57.2, which placed her sixth in the international pool and third among college rowers.
With her teammates looking on and the adrenaline pumping, both her diminished prospects and conservative game plan went out the window.
A 5.6 second drop in the second event (6:51.6) moved her to fourth in the international field and second in the collegiate.
“It was a big surprise for me mostly,” Lambert said. “I was pretty nervous going into it and it wasn’t until half way through the finals that I knew that I had a shot at doing pretty well.”
Sophomore Heather Schofield qualified for the collegiate final, rowing 7:10.00, but was unable to compete due to a shoulder injury.
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