The Eastern sprint championships at Washington, D.C. last week shed some belated light on the college crew situation, which has been a hopeless snarl of bad weather and beaten favorites all spring. At the beginning of the season there were three questions to be answered: Could Cornell, national champions in 1955 over the three-mile collegiate course, raise its powerful rowing beat high enough to compete over the 2,000-meter (1.3-mile) distance; could the 1952 Navy crew, eight-oared champions at the last Olympics and currently back in training at the Academy, get into shape in time for the try outs June 28; could Penn, last year's eastern sprint champions over the 2,000-meter course, improve enough to hold off both Cornell and the Navy officers?
Then came the first regattas, and quite suddenly there were a great many more questions. In quick succession, Princeton beat the Navy officers and Pennsylvania. But, just as Princeton Coach Dutch Schoch was beginning to think he had something, his No. 7 man dropped crew to finish a senior thesis. That blow fell two weeks ago, and Schoch was mildly stunned. "We really got hosed," he muttered, "I don't know what in blazes we're going to do."
DARK HORSES, DARK DAYS
Meanwhile a dark horse Yale crew became a contender by winning a tune-up over Boston University, then moving to Philadelphia and beating Penn.
Finally there was Cornell, held to 13 days of practice by bad weather but still inherently good enough to beat Navy in a one-mile sprint.
The May 5 Carnegie Cup, which brought together Yale, Cornell and Princeton, promised to be a preview of the eastern sprints—and more. As Russell (Stork) Sanford, Cornell's 6-foot 5-inch, 180-pound coach put it: "Figure whoever wins this race today has the inside track in the East, at least, and perhaps in the Olympics."
Yale, benefiting from continuous practice since February 22 on its protected course, got off in front and rowed handsomely to win by a length and a quarter. Princeton was nowhere—2� lengths back at the finish with a ragged performance all along the way.
Besides defeat, Cornell suffered a double humiliation during the Carnegie Cup. One came midway when Cornell seemed to be inching up on Yale. "We're moving," shouted the Cornell cox. "We're catching them."
Bill Becklean, cox of Yale, glanced over with disdain. "The hell you are," he roared.
The second humiliation was a full crab, caught by Cornell only a few yards from the finish, which gave Yale its winning margin of 1� lengths.