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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Jumbos ready to get back on the water

Tufts rowers bring their boat into the dock after a long practice on the Malden River in the fall of last year.

The men’s crew team begins its season on Saturday, April 4, with a race against Hamilton at the Shoemaker Boathouse.The No. 9 Jumbos, according to the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association, enter the season with high expectations and hope to challenge the top teams they will face.The Continentals enter the season ranked No. 15, which is a testament to the strength of the NESCAC. Trinity holds the No. 1 spot in the pre-season rankings, while Bates sits at second, Williams at fourth and Wesleyan at sixth.

The Jumbos were last in action back on Oct. 25, when they participated in the Head of the Fish Regatta hosted by Skidmore College.Tufts finished in second place out of 15 teams in its best finish of the fall season.Among the highlights of the race, the team’s lightweight four won the event for the second year in a row.Tufts finished in first place out of seven teams with an 11:44.87 time. To earn second place, the University of Rochester finished with a time of 11:59.03, almost a 15-second difference.The lightweight quad was not the Jumbos' only success on the water. In the collegiate singles, first-year Andrew MacMillen finished in second place with a time of 13:21.59 in the 10-man race. In addition, the Tufts men’s lightweight double came in third place with a 13:58.44 time.

The Jumbos also raced in the prestigious two-day Head of the Charles Regatta during the fall season.Three boats represented the Jumbos in the event, and on the opening day, Tufts raced in the club eights event. The boat came in 40th place out of 47 total boats with a 17:15.43 time. Tufts rowers were junior stroke Andrew Warren, sophomore seven-seat Tyler McCullough, junior six-seat Jon Williams, junior five-seat Martin Van Mierlo, sophomore four-seat Zach Merchant, senior three-seat Dixon Minnick, sophomore first-seat Griffin Richards, first-year bow Colton Karch and sophomore coxswain Connor Fallon.

Two Tufts boats raced on Sunday: the men’s collegiate eight and the men’s lightweight four. The collegiate eights came in 36th place out of 44 teams with a 16:56.55 time. The lightweight four boat came in 16th place out of 22 teams with a time of 18:10.12.

After the strong outing at the Head of the Fish regatta, the team got to work in the offseason, and it hopes that the workouts and hard work that were put in both in Boston and in Florida over break will pay off in the beginning of the season. Because it was so cold, the team had to find ways to push each other and stay fit.

"Over the winter we were limited in what were able to do, of course, because the river was frozen," senior Chris Rickard told the Daily in an email. "That means we had to get creative with our training, both so that it could be effective, and so that it wouldn't be quite so monotonous. Although we spent a lot of time using the rowing machines, or 'ergs,' we tried to break it up with other types of aerobic exercises like biking or running as well. This year we have also been doing team body circuits (a combination of body weight/light weight exercises including lots of jumping and pushups) that have been really great because they build both strength and aerobic capacity, which I think will be incredibly helpful for us later this spring."

"We definitely entered winter training on a positive note after Head of the Fish last fall, with every boat carrying out a solid row," Williams told the Daily in an email. "Because of that we went into training with good momentum, and as a result, we all pushed ourselves and each other to be fitter than ever for the spring. We've really hit training hard, and it was exciting to finally see it translate into boat speed in Florida over break. Now it's time to take that into competition, and I think I speak for us all that we've anticipated some strong rowing for the start of the spring season."

The upcoming schedule for Tufts includes races against Hamilton, Wesleyan, Bates, the University of New Hampshire and Amherst.All races will occur at the Shoemaker Boathouse.Later in the season, the Jumbos will participate in the New England Championships and the ECAC National Invitational Championship.

In addition to be extremely prepared both physically and mentally to race well against top competition, the team will have to adapt to a new coach. Noel Wanner, who had been the coach of the Middlebury men's and women's club rowing programs since 2008, officially joined the Tufts coaching staff in January. Wanner has a polished resume as a rower and a coach, having rowed at Wesleyan and subsequently coached at Wesleyan and Middlebury.

"Since the spring season happens pretty fast, all of our races are crucial, and all are a chance to prove our preparation, talent and toughness," Williams said. "The two at the end of the season, The New England Rowing Championships and ECACs, definitely stick out, as they are larger scale regattas with a lot of competitors in the field.  These races are kind of the climax of the season, and so we get a lot of motivation through knowing that they are not too far down the road. Also, our race against Middlebury this year will be a focus of ours, not only because they perennially give us a solid competition out there but also because [of Wanner]."

The Jumbos hope to build on great efforts in the fall and winter and perform well on every stage as the weather warms up and the team gets back on the water.