Men’s Heavyweight Crew Holds On For First Victory Over BU in Fifteen Years

The men’s heavyweight crew moved up in the Eastern Sprints poll after defeating Charles River rival Boston University last Sunday morning. MIT competed as a guest in the race for the Jablonic Cup between the University of Wisconsin and Boston University.

The Wisconsin Badgers, ranked third in the country, were fastest off the line and led BU and MIT by open water at the 1000 meter mark. The Badgers crossed the line in a time of 5:43.0, finishing ahead of MIT by 11.5 seconds and BU by 12.5. The battle for second was hard fought throughout the 2000 meter course, with MIT’s varsity 8+ ultimately crossing the line three seats ahead of BU.

The varsity 8+, stroked by Luke Urban ’09, came off the line slower than the Badgers and Terriers and fell behind Boston University by half a boat length within the first 500 meters. The MIT heavyweights settled into their base stroke rate of 36 strokes per minute roughly 150 meters before the Terriers settled into their base rate and crossed the 1000 meter mark 2.9 seconds behind BU. Before crossing under the Harvard Bridge, which marks the halfway point of the 2000 meter race, coxswain Stephen Young ’09 called a massive move in an attempt to swing the momentum of the race in MIT’s favor.

The heavyweight 8+, comprised primarily of Juniors, responded well to their coxswain’s call. The crew pushed past BU in the third 500 meters of the race, crossing in front of the Pierce Boathouse in a dead heat with the Terriers. Carrying their momentum into the final 500 meter sprint, MIT pushed out to a half boat length lead during the first twenty strokes of their sprint and managed to hang onto a one second lead over BU as they drove their rating up to 38 and eventually 40 strokes per minute.

This victory marks the first time in 15 years that MIT has beaten BU in any racing situation, and the first time in over 20 years that MIT has beaten BU in a duel race. Boston University was ranked 12th in the Eastern Sprints league and 17th in the country coming into Sunday’s race against MIT and Wisconsin. After the polls came out on Wednesday, MIT was ranked 14th in the Eastern Sprints league and 21st in the country.

The Engineers will compete in the Eastern Sprints Championship next weekend. If the team wants a shot at the petite finals this year, they will have to find some late season speed in order to knock off 11th place Georgetown. After racing in Worcester next weekend, the heavyweight men will finish their season at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship in Cherry Hill, NJ on June 5–7.