the Penn women's crew team looks forward to its first home meet of the
spring, the men continue competition on foreign waters. All are looking
to improve on unsatisfying times and results so far this year.
One week after a last-place finish at Syracuse, the women's team will host Rutgers and Ivy foe Cornell in the Class of '89 Plate.
"Interestingly, this is the first home race for our sophomore," Penn coach Barb Grudt said. "We ended up being all away last year. I think it's just going to be extra exciting because we have a young team and these guys will want to perform well at home."
Home-water advantage may be exactly what Penn needs to earn its first victory of the season.
Philadelphia's Schuylkill River has been the site of the Class of '89 Plate five times in the event's 15-year history. The Quakers have captured the plate only twice -- both times, on the Schuylkill.
At Cornell's Cayuga Lake last spring, the Big Red denied the Quakers of a third plate, winning the race by the narrow margin of .08 seconds.
Location and history aside, Grudt remains confident her boats can fix their previous mistakes.
"The crew just needs to row with a little more confidence and execute the plan that they know how to execute in practice," she said. "We just need to put it together one of these days."
Meanwhile, the men's lightweight rowers travel to Mercer Lake, N.J., looking to rebound from a last-place finish and return to their winning form from two weeks ago.
To do so, Penn must overcome Yale's domination of the Dodge Cup. Since 1979, the Elis have only lost the cup twice -- to Penn in 1992, and to the race's other participant, Columbia, in 2003.
Last season, the Penn lightweights fell just short of triumphing over the perennial favorite, falling to Yale by 0.2 seconds.
Of Penn's three rowing squads, only the men's heavyweight team did not finish at the rear last weekend.
After a second-place showing in Princeton, N.J., Saturday, the Quakers go to Orchard Beach, N.Y., for the Blackwell Cup in search of a win.
To find victory, the heavyweight crew will need to row faster than Ivy League rivals Yale and Columbia -- the school it beat in last weekend's race.
Looking at the race's history, Columbia shouldn't present much of a threat, though. The Lions last won it in 1941, almost eight months before Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Judging from recent history and location, Penn and Yale have an equal chance of winning.
Saturday marks the third time the Blackwell Cup has been raced in Orchard Beach: Penn won in 1967, Yale in 2003. The crews have also split the past 10 races, although Yale currently boasts a three-year winning streak.