Ohio State men's rowing races with the best in Boston
By David Shaw The Lantern

COLUMBUS, Ohio (U-WIRE) -- The Ohio State men's club rowing team finished 33rd out of 37 teams in the Championship Eights division of the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston. The event, which took place Saturday and Sunday, is the world's largest two-day rowing event.

The Championship division is reserved for the best teams in the country including traditional rowing powerhouses such as Princeton, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale. The U.S. National Team and Canadian National Team also raced. Participation in the event is by invitation only.

"This is the race [main] in the world during the fall," said senior co-captain Nich Lee. "The international competition and that environment will help prepare us for future pressure this year. It's a huge confidence builder to say that you are good enough to row with the U.S. National Team or the Canadian National Team."

"It's definitely a learning experience and a way to measure ourselves against the best," said senior co-captain Brad Hemmerly. "It was a good race and definitely something to build on throughout the year."

OSU traditionally enters the crew team section of the competition but was able to get a berth into the championship event due in large part to a seventh place finish by a four-man team at last year's national championships.

"The Charles gives us an idea of how the committee views our accomplishments over the last year and where they think we're headed," Lee said. "We can see that all of our hard work is showing up."

Now that OSU has been invited to the championship level, the goal will be to continue that tradition with annual invitations. The Buckeyes will rely on strong showings in the crew team championships and national championships to do that.

"It's a bar that we need to jump over every year," said junior vice president of the crew team Eric Pitzer. "This is something that we need to set our sights on, to get into this event. That's the main part of this whole race really. What we're focusing on is not just getting one boat into the Charles but getting two or even more into the meet next year."

The experience of competition and magnitude of the Charles will be valuable to a crew team that has seven graduating seniors and only three current juniors.

"There was one boat that went to the Charles but we're all on one team and we all practice together," Pitzer said. "We take just about as many strokes. We need to convey to the team what it's like to row in the Charles for next year to keep the momentum going."

The Buckeyes' ability to hold their own against some of the best rowing teams in the world will give the team confidence for their upcoming meets in the fall and spring, including the Michigan dual meet, one of the fall's biggest contests.

"The Charles reinforces what this sport is about," Pitzer said. "It is a constant striving towards perfection and improvement. Really, we saw that a lot while we were warming up with teams like Harvard, Yale and California."

The OSU men's crew team is the only competitive outlet for men on campus with a desire to row. Currently, OSU does not have a university funded varsity men's rowing program.

"Basically, we are varsity," Hemmerly said. "There is a funded women's crew team funded by the university and then there's a club team which has competitive men and women. Any guy from the university that wants to row can come and row. No one that showed up at our boat house knew how to row. I showed up as a freshman and now I get to race against national teams."

The OSU men's crew team will be in action at the Speakmon meet in Columbus on Sunday. The Michigan Dual meet, the next major competition for the team, takes place on Nov. 20 in Columbus.

(C) 2004 The Lantern via U-WIRE.

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