One stands 6-feet-4-inches, 205 pounds, a powerhouse from the state of ‘crab cakes and football’ (MD). The other, four inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter, sits with lithe grace of a tiger ready to pounce.

Though this may appear to be an odd combination, it is obviously one that works; junior James Jessup and sophomore Ben Andrews are the MAAC champions in men’s pair rowing, a formidable duo that has gone undefeated this season.

‘It’s comical to watch us, we’re so mismatched,’ said Jessup, a native of Potomac, Md.

Though they have been very successful, it has been a struggle all season to adjust to rowing together because of their height and weight disparity, according to Jessup and Andrews.

‘I’m the fat guy in the boat,’ said Jessup, explaining that while he rowed in an open category last year, Andrews rowed in the lightweight four.

Andrews, of Mahwah, NJ, said that he uses a seat pad to give him an extra boost because Jessup’s rowing strokes are naturally longer than his, making timing difficult.

‘It’s like trying to use a 5’11” mirror for someone who’s 6’4”,’ said Jessup.

A Tale of Two Champions

According to Andrews, he and Jessup are the only two on the men’s team who rowed in high school, which helps keep them dedicated to their grueling schedule.

‘We know what’s demanded of us to do well,’ said Andrews, describing the process of waking up daily at 5:20 a.m. for practice, heading to class and then spending additional hours training at the gym. This comes in addition to their heavy academic load, with Andrews, a biology major, and Jessup, a psychology major.

This year has been especially difficult for both Jessup and Andrews, as both missed portions of the fall season due to mononucleosis and back problems, respectively.’ After a period of retraining, Andrews and Jessup teamed up after spring break, becoming the first to use the rowing team’s brand new pair boat.

‘We’re living the high life,’ said Andrews of the new shell, which the team bought at the beginning of this school year.

As there is no coxswain on a pair boat, Andrews steers using a foot rudder while Jessup controls ‘rating,’ or rowing together.’

Jessup said that the pair is the hardest boat to row because ‘you have no control over the other side and you have to rely on your partner to be consistent.’

An Epic Season

Despite the numerous challenges they have faced, Jessup and Andrews have managed to make the spring 2009 season one to remember.

They dominated the MAAC tournament, grabbing the championship victory in mid-April with a time of 8:08.4, which beat the second place team (Marist) by more than 17 seconds.

‘We were still in exasperating pain but we had smiles on our faces,’ said Andrews.

This past weekend, the pair dominated the Spring Mets Regatta, beating Iona and Fordham with a time of 7:11.7. Jessup and Andrews will close their season at the three-day Dad Vail regatta in Philadelphia, PA in early May.

‘It’s a love hate relationship,’ said Jessup, describing the ‘knives in your legs’ during races and the practices when ‘you go to the point of puking and then you do it again.’

‘But it’s addictive,’ finished Andrews.

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