By Christopher Chronowski
Winning. Yes, that is the phrase that Charlie Sheen has been famous for recently. It is also the adjective I would use to describe this season for Union College Crew. This week has marked the end of a fantastic spring season which culminated with a race at Hamilton against Hamilton, St. Lawrence, and University of Rochester. In the past, States Championships at Whitney Point, NY has been the last race for the season, but unfortunately the storms in the past week had been so severe that it caused a cancellation of those races.
The first race of the season was against Hamilton College. Since my freshman year, the race against Hamilton always felt like an uphill struggle; it was against a crew that was very fast and very prepared to race. Adding to the importance of the race is the rivalry a Union alumnus created to compete for hardware: Gilman Men’s Goblet (Men’s Varsity 4), Gilman Women’s Bowl (Women’s 2nd Varsity 8), Gilman Women’s Plate (Women’s Varsity 8), and the Gilman Men’s Cup (Men’s Varsity 8). The Men’s Varsity 8 was victorious, winning the Gilman Men’s Cup back for the first time in five years. The Union “A” boat crossed the 2000m finish line at 6:50, with the Hamilton and Union “B” boat trailing behind at 7:23 and 7:50, respectively. This was the first race of the year and the one that fueled our hunger for more wins this season.
The next competition was against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The races were for the Men’s Second Varsity 8, Men’s First Varsity 8, Men’s Varsity 4, and the Women’s Freshman 4. In all four of the events, Union boats beat out every RPI crew on the Mohawk River. The Men’s second Varsity 8 finished with a time of 7:13 with RPI finishing at 7:46. The Men’s First Varsity 8 race finished with Union and RPI at 6:51 and 8:03, respectively. The Men’s Varsity 4 finished at 8:14 with RPI finishing at 8:28. The Women’s Freshman 4 race ended with Union crossing the finish line at 9:36 and RPI finishing at 9:54.
The next day, the Dutchmen traveled to Clark University in Worcester, MA to race against Franklin & Marshall. The Men’s Varsity 8 beat out Franklin & Marshall by 4 seconds (Union-6:43 F&M-6:47). The Men’s second Varsity 8 also defeated their counterparts from F & M. The Women’s Varsity 8 came in third place beating out F & M, Clark and Lowell, but losing to Mt Holyoke and Simmons. The Women’s Second Varsity 8 finished in fourth place and the Women’s Novice 4 came in third, beating out Franklin and Marshall.
On April 16, Union faced SUNY University at Albany at the Union Boathouse. The three races offered were competitions between each school’s Men’s Varsity 4, Men’s Second Varsity 8, Women’s Varsity 8, Women’s Novice 8 and the Men’s Varsity 8 crews. The Dutchmen swept the Great Dane’s in every race that day. At this point in time, the Men’s Varsity 8 was undefeated in every race of the season they competed in. Morale was at an all-time high and each rower felt that they were part of something special.
The day after sweeping UAlbany, the Dutchmen raced against St. Lawrence University at the Union Boathouse. The conditions that day were very difficult; a strong head current and strong variable head wind was present throughout the race course. The first race was for the Men’s Varsity 4; St. Lawrence beat out Union with a time of 6:46 to Union’s 7:10. The Union Men’s Second Varsity 8s crossed the finish line, victoriously edging out the SLU boat with a time of 8:19 to their 8:28. The Women’s First and Second Varsity 8 lost to the Saints in each of their respective races, while the Women’s Varsity 4 won their race. The last race that day was the Men’s Varsity 8; in their first loss of the season, the MV8 lost to St. Lawrence by 21 seconds. After this loss, the Men’s Crew was determined to practice and prove how fast they really could be in the following week at Liberty Leagues at St Lawrence.
At Liberty Leagues, the Men’s Varsity 8 won in their heat, beating out SLU by 0.2 seconds. In the finals, Union came in second place with a time of 5:56.1, beating out SLU by 7 seconds and losing to Hobart. The second Varsity 8 lost to Hobart in their race as well. In the women’s competitions, the women’s varsity 8 failed to win their heat, which did not allow them to compete in the finals. The WV4 came in first place in their heats and went to finish in second place for the Finals. The Women’s Freshman 8 lost to William Smith. On April 30, the last race of the season occurred at Hamilton against St. Lawrence, Hamilton, and University of Rochester. The MV8 won their first race against Hamilton, but lost to U of R by 0.6 seconds in their second race. The M2V8 lost to Rochester but Union beat Rochester in the M4 race. The Women’s Varsity and Novice 8s lost to Rochester, but the Women’s Varsity 4 finished beating Hamilton.
On a more personal note, this has marked the end of my Union College athletic career. For four years, I have been a rower for the Dutchmen. I have never known a term at Union without having crew as a time commitment. Although throughout the years there have been times when going to practice was not something I was particularly looking forward to (i.e., spending what felt like hours rowing on an erg or having to do hard pieces on the cold and windy Mohawk River), I will miss being part of Union Crew. After spending so much time refining skills and preparing for races, Union crew has felt like a family that will be hard to leave after I graduate. I am glad to leave the program on such a high note. Compared to how it was when I started as a freshman, Union Crew has only gotten better. I can only hope that the program continues to improve after I have left.