Crew finishes season at Head of the Elk: Sports Shorts 11/1/05

By Joe Katz

As the Midwest heads towards the depths of winter, rowing on open water becomes an increasingly unpleasant prospect. Chicago Crew made sure to take advantage of their last opportunity to race.

The Maroons sent their largest team of the fall to the Head of the Elk at Elkhorn, Indiana Sunday to face off against a strong regional field. The men’s lightweight four-man boat had the best finish of the weekend, crossing the line in 15:49 to finish eighth in an 18-boat race, pacing a strong showing across the board for Chicago. While they came in behind rival Northwestern (6/15:27), the boat just beat a squad from rowing power Grand Valley State (9/15:53).

The lightweight boat was just one among many on the water for the club. The also had solid showings in the men’s open four-man, where their lead boat finished 11th of 18 with a 15:05 showing, and the men’s open eight-man, where the lead boat pushed across in 14:15, standing 10th in a 16-boat race.

Like the lightweight boat, the men’s open four beat out Grand Valley State (11/15:08), but could not overcome Wash U (10/15:00). The open eight finished less than three seconds ahead of the Wildcat boat.

“The eight is significantly improving,” men’s captain Danny Wasserman said. “We finished well behind both Northwestern and Wash U in our first race in the fall, and we were only 25 to 30 seconds behind the Bears this time. We’ve come a long way. We’ve never had as much depth before. It’s something to look forward to during spring season.”

Other finishers included a second men’s eight squad, which finished ninth of 10 in the B race (15:56).

Women’s varsity crew did not compete at Head of the Elk, but the club sent its rookies to compete in the women’s novice eight. The boat finished 15th of 17, recording a 20:13 mark. While they had hoped for more, they did beat out novice boats from Northwestern (16/20:30) and Lawrence University (17/21:06).

“It was the first race for the novice men and women, and they had practiced for a comparatively smaller time to our opponents because of the quarter system,” Wasserman said. “They had solid races. We were pretty encouraged by it, and they were all really excited.”

It was the final regatta of the season for the club. Their greatest on-the-water accomplishment of the autumn was the performance of the men’s four at the world-famous Head of the Charles. The boat recorded a time within five percent of the lead boat in the club fours race, assuring them a spot at the highly competitive event for yet another year. However, team members have been even more encouraged by what has happened in practice over the last few months.

“We’ve been showing a lot more dedication this fall. You can really see the team as a whole working hard to get stronger and make the boat go faster,” Wasserman said. “There’s commitment from the team as a whole.”

While the team will remain on the water as long as possible, they will soon head indoors to work on erg rowing machines and in the weight room during the cold winter months. The club will compete at the Chicago Indoor Rowing Championship at the end of January, facing off against local schools in two kilometer race pieces and five-by-500 meter relays on the machines. In the spring, the team will head to Pittsburgh to face off against other UAA schools for an informal rowing league championship, face off against local schools in a scrimmage in Chicago, take on historic foes at the Big Ten Invitational in Indianapolis and compete at the prestigious Dad Vails in Philadelphia.