Crew takes regatta by storm

The key to rowing, many say, is offsetting the weakness of a crew by maximizing its strengths. The GW crew team’s victory at the 20th Annual George Washington Invitational Regatta on a gusty Potomac River last weekend, came as a sum of all its parts.

With 142 total points, the Colonials captured the Gilbert H. Hood Jr. Trophy for the first time. The Trophy is awarded to the school with the most total points between both the men’s and women’s squads.

Despite failing to win either the Oliver T. Carr Bowl, which is awarded to the top men’s squad, or the Howard W. Wilkins Bowl, which goes to the leading women’s team, the Colonials’ complete-squad effort helped to defeat the likes of Georgetown, Virginia, Cornell University, Clemson University, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, Navy, Saint Joseph’s, University of Delaware, Gonzaga University, Marietta College, West Virginia University, Temple and Florida Institute of Technology.

The regatta featured a layout different from years past. The format allowed each crew to participate in three races, with only two or three teams competing at a time, rather than racing in heats.

GW men’s coach Greg Myhr and women’s coach Rob McCracken both said they were pleased with the new format and received positive feedback from other teams.

“What’s nice about the way it was this year is that you can take the errors and correct them immediately for the next race,” Myhr said. “We made some nice adjustments and improvements throughout the weekend.”

Cornell’s men’s squad took home the Oliver T. Carr Bowl with 135 points, but the Big Red did not race a women’s team. Similarly, Clemson did not enter a men’s squad but earned the Howard W. Wilkins Bowl after leading the women’s bracket with 89 points.

The GW men’s team finished runner-up to Cornell with 102 points. While noting that it is difficult to be satisfied with any type of loss, Myhr said that he was pleased with his team’s showing against such quality competition.

“I’m encouraged by the fact that we were in some races with some top teams,” Myhr said. “We’re on the way up, and the past two days were really good steps for us.”

The men’s varsity four also won all three races it entered.

McCracken said he was content with the Colonials’ 40-point performance as well, particularly as the hosts of the regatta.

“It’s good to bring the cup to GW this year,” he said. “That’s really exciting, and we’re really happy about that.”

Typically the tournament, which is a part of the Cherry Blossom Festival, draws hundreds to the docks at Washington Harbor. This year, temperatures that felt in the 20s during Saturday’s races contributed to a decrease in attendance. A light snow also fell for some of the day.

Senior Hilary Goldberg said the weather conditions prevented the teams from performing to their optimal ability, but a tailwind created a strong current that flowed downstream with the rowers.

One women’s varsity eight race stood out to the GW women’s team. The Colonials finished just three-tenths of a second behind Iowa, but Goldberg said simply keeping pace with the Hawkeyes was a confidence-builder.

“(Staying with Iowa) is actually something we’re proud of because Iowa is a really fast team, so it says something that we were able to keep up with them,” Goldberg said.

Goldberg added that the Hood Trophy is especially meaningful to the nine seniors on the women’s team.

“We have a really quality squad this year, and it’s an accomplishment that we’ve all been working for and that we can say we’re proud of,” she said.

The GW men will head to Redwood Shores, Calif., next weekend for the Windermere Invitational while the women face Georgetown on the Potomac in the Class of 1998 Cup.

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