By Greg Brenn
This past Sunday, the men’s and women’s crew teams competed at the Liberty League State Championships at Saratoga Lake, poised to compete strongly against Hobart and William Smith, Skidmore, Saint Lawrence and RIT. Given the near-perfect water conditions with only a slight crosswind, Union Men’s Varsity 8 was determined to seek vengeance against Saint Lawrence, who narrowly beat them on the Mohawk River by 0.8 seconds just one week earlier.
With a time of 6:16.76, the men’s varsity 8 finished five seconds ahead of rival Saint Lawrence, with RIT narrowly slipping by Union, finishing three seconds earlier. Hobart College, who has won the Liberty League Championships seven times in a row, won their eighth straight men’s varsity 8 title.
Jonathan Hunt ‘15, bow seat of the men’s varsity 8, stated that the race did not go as the team had hoped, but there is substantial room for improvement this week. “The weather will be beautiful this week, so the guys will be dialed in and motivated to show other crews like West Point and Marist what we’re really capable of.”
Though the women’s varsity 8 also did not place first, racing against William Smith, the third-ranked D-III rowing team in the nation, and Saint Lawrence, the 12th ranked team in the nation, provided excellent racing experience for the Dutchwomen.
Nonetheless, Jordan Pulling ‘15, coxswain for the women’s varsity 8, stated that the focus just wasn’t there. “We didn’t perform as well as we expected to and are disappointed with our lack of focus, but this weekend will be a great chance to redeem ourselves.” They hope to bring even more racing intensity to States this weekend.”
The second varsity and novice men’s 8 boats also put up a good showing, finishing with times of 6:47.32 and 6:47.53, respectively, behind Hobart’s fast and experienced crews. The women’s second varsity 8 and novice 4 also competed, but their times were not available for this edition.
Though the men’s varsity 8 only returned three varsity rowers from last year’s boat, Juniors Greg Brenn, Nick Brenn and Sebastian Nilsson, the boat finished its regular season with four wins and one loss, beating solid crews such as Hamilton, Franklin and Marshall and Skidmore.
Sophomore rowers Jon Hunt, Elliot Ern, Olaf Lang and Matt Worthington, along with freshman rower Dylan Cline round out the young crew that still is striving for perfection on the water.
Senior men’s coxswain Jason Klusky will be commandeering the varsity 8 in the final race of his college career.
“I know these guys will be ready to race on Saturday to make the Grand Finals on Sunday,” Klusky stated. “And I will do everything I can to motivate and focus my guys to row their best races of the season.”
This coming week, the crew teams will prepare for the New York State Championships at Whitney Point in Binghamton, N.Y.
The men and women will be competing against tougher competition such as Marist, Ithaca, West Point and the University of Rochester among other schools, focusing on making the Grand Finals on Sunday.
Junior rower Nicholas Brenn, six-seat of the men’s varsity 8, describes how Union needs to finish out the season on a high note. “Last year at States, we made the Grand Final, but the row didn’t end as we would have liked, but we’re confident that we’ll be bending oars come this weekend, no doubt about it.”