Sports & Outdoors

Men’s crew team wins Meyer Cup as Loggers approach final stretch of season

A Logger boat races in Oregon on April 6 — Photo courtesy of Logger Athletics

The spring season thus far has consisted of highs and lows for Puget Sound Crew. Despite some unforgiving weather and a thin roster — especially for the men — the Loggers have put in some top performances and are optimistic for upcoming competitions.

The spring season commenced in early March with the Pacific Lutheran Invitational. The Loggers started strong with several victories, including those earned by the women’s second-varsity eight (W2V8) and the men’s novice four (MN4). In a head-to-head race against Western Washington, the W2V8 came out on top, finishing in 7:51.7, according to Logger Athletics. The Puget Sound MN4 also beat Western Washington, clocking in at 7:49.4.

After that, Puget Sound Crew hosted the Logger Invitational on American Lake on March 16. This event was an even greater success than the previous one.

The men’s varsity eight bested Lewis & Clark and Pacific Lutheran with a time of 6:47.5, according to Logger Athletics. The victory was a very close one, as Puget Sound finished 17 seconds in front of the Lutes and less than three seconds ahead of the Pioneers.

The women’s varsity eight, on the other hand, blew their competition out of the water. Their first victory came against Pacific University when they finished in 7:14.5, over a minute ahead of the Boxers. Next, the WV8 beat Lewis & Clark by 45 seconds, and improved their time by one second — a marginal but critical improvement when every second matters.

The novice rowers also showed their quality during the Logger Invitational. The women’s novice four beat Lewis & Clark with a time of 9:06.6, according to Logger Athletics. The men’s novice four defeated Pacific Lutheran and Lewis & Clark, finishing with a time of 7:25.5.

This achievement for the novice rowers of Puget Sound is no surprise. Men’s Crew captain Matt Imanaka said, “The first-years have been especially exceptional this season. They’ve learned skills in a couple of months that usually take new rowers a year to learn.”

Of course, the novice rowers are only as good as the example set by returners. Head Coach Aaron Benson praised the team’s veteran rowers: “The leadership from captains Matt Imanaka and Julia Ratcliff has been essential to help us adapt and respond to the various challenges we’ve faced so far over the course of the year.”

Imanaka explained one of the biggest challenges the team has had to adapt to this season: a young and limited (in numbers) roster.

“We do have a small roster at the moment, but the roster that we have is committed and hungry for some wins,” Imanaka said. “We’ve also done well competing with a fairly young team. Our top boat right now has a junior, four sophomores, three freshmen and a freshman coxswain. Despite this, we’ve been able to go fast.”

Unpredictable weather has proven to be a factor this season. “Staying off the water for the first 10 days of the season due to snow and ice was an unexpected challenge,” Benson said. “But having sunny days and calm water for the entirety of spring break was downright splendid.”

Junior Phoebe Winters added to this appreciation: “Spring break is probably the best part about the spring season. We do nothing but eat, sleep, row and bond with each other.”

Benson shared his assessment of the season thus far, and of what is still to come: “We’re just at the midpoint of the season and still looking to hit our stride for the championship regattas to come. I think we’ve shown some decent speed in practice and at the Husky Open.”

The Husky Open (March 30) came after the Logger Invitational and was another success. After an impressive performance against Division I boats, the women’s varsity eight earned NWC Crew of the Week, according to Logger Athletics.

Just a week later came the Meyer/Lamberth event in Lakewood. The Puget Sound women’s second-varsity eight was beaten by Pacific Lutheran by only a half-boat’s length, according to Logger Athletics.

The men’s varsity eight and the men’s varsity four both bested boats from PLU to claim the Meyer Cup, a momentous achievement.

When asked about his expectations for the season, Benson had quite the response. “‘Expectations’ is a dangerous word. We seek aspirations instead. We’ll find out if we perform to our aspirations at the end of the season.”

Looking forward, Crew has three more events on its schedule: The Northwest Conference Championship in Vancouver, Washington (April 20), The WIRA Championships in Gold River, California (April 27-28), and the Windermere Cup in Seattle (May 4).

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