Monday, October 31, 2016

Varsity Retain Homecoming Cup in 20th Anniversary Race

This year's Race for The Homecoming Cup may have been the most exciting to date. An unseasonably warm day set the stage for the annual showdown between Racer rowers past and present. Heading into winds blowing up to 20 miles per hour along a 500m course, varsity and alumni boats battled high-rolling swells in a close and hard-fought contest.

The day began with the Alumni women destroying the varsity in the first sprint--a striking contrast to last year's anemic performance. In the second heat, alumni were unable to finish off their opponents, completing the course about a boat-length behind. However, after rotating in fresh rowers from a considerably strong bench, the alumni returned to the good form of their first heat, finishing the event ahead of the varsity by a respectable margin.

The day continued with alumni men facing off against the varsity. Rowing with their shirts off--a clear attempt to intimidate those of us who don't burn calories as efficiently as we did in our early 20s--the varsity held a consistent lead through the first heat, finishing by roughly half a boat length. After rotating in fresh personnel, the second heat began with the the alumni holding firm alongside the varsity through the length of the race course. So close was the finish, neither team nor race officials on the water were sure of who had won. Ultimately, the finish line judge awarded the win to the varsity to conclude the event.

With the alumni women having won the first event and the varsity men having won the second, the Race for The Homecoming Cup would be decided in a third, one-and-done, winner-take-all mixed boat race. How exciting for this to have happened during our 20-year anniversary! Until now, the winner of The Daniel A. Lavit Homecoming Cup had not been determined in a contest between mixed 8s.* 

After a final rotation of personnel, the two boats cleared the starting line in a dead heat. Through the first half of the course, the alumni crept forward, leading first by one seat, then by two, then by a half a boat length, then by a little more. But crossing the halfway mark and into the final stretch, the varsity tapped a reserve to inch ahead, reclaiming positioning to take the lead. The finish was close, maybe closer than the finish of any the previous homecoming race. Ultimately, the varsity's mid-course surge was just enough to fight back an advancing alumni squad...who will have to wait yet another year for their chance to reclaim The Homecoming Cup.

Happy Homecoming, everybody! Thanks for another fun weekend in Murray.

Some additional comments:
  • Matt Weaver's service to Racer Rowing was commemorated with the christening of a boat in his honor. Thanks for all you've done for us, Matt.
  • Lensey and Josh Medley are taking initiative to formally organize The Racer Rowing Society; to coordinate efforts that better serve the needs of the team. Keep an eye out for opportunities to get involved!
  • Thanks to Dan Lavit for graciously welcoming Alumni to his home for our Friday and Saturday night shenanigans.
  • Thanks Allen Besand for organizing our Saturday-afternoon post-race banquet.
  • Thanks Marshall Brice for serving as Grand Marshall for this year's contest.
  • Thanks Joe Kayse for designing this year's poster and t-shirt.
  • Thanks to all the alumni, parents and friends who have supported Racer Rowing!
* Note: Homecoming attendance has varied over the years, necessitating changes to the rules of the contest. For example, in the 2012 Race, neither the varsity, novice nor alumni could field full men's or women's 8s. The contest was decided in a best of three contest between mixed boats that didn't follow the 4 men / 4 women rule. Here are a couple additional notes about the 2012 Race, just for the record....First, the alumni won that contest.  Second, this was the year that Carter Jones and Colin Neeley unveiled the "new and improved" Homecoming Cup trophy. Third, Dan was unable to attend that year's homecoming. As punishment for his treachery, the Homecoming Cup was temporarily renamed after assistant coach, Sarah Marshall.

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