The Cornell women’s rowing team will travel to Hanover, NH this weekend to face Dartmouth in its last regular season rowing match. The Red, fresh off of a victory over Columbia in the varsity eight race at last week’s Dunn Bowl, is eager to race and defeat Dartmouth, as a win could provide the momentum it will need for its conference final, the Ivy League Championships.
“We’re looking to finish the regular season strong and race to our potential,” said head Coach Hilary Gehman.
According to Gehman, the Red will still be looking to improve its rowing performance at this week’s match. She remains confident that the team has not yet reached its peak level of performance, but is saving that level for the Ivy League Championships.
“Obviously the goal is to win races and to win as many as we can, but it’s also a great opportunity for us to race our best, and to really put together that full race, start to finish, that no one else can do,” Gehman said. “If that produces a win, then that’s icing on the cake.”
For some of the members of the team, the match against Dartmouth represents a personal battle stemming from the Red’s last encounter with the Big Green at last year’s Ivy League Championships. According to senior captain Margaret Cook, the Red defeated Dartmouth in last year’s regular season only to lose to the Green at the Ivy League Championships. Dartmouth went on to receive an invitation to the 2011 NCAA tournament, a spot Cook adamantly believes should have been Cornell’s.
“There’s always a bit of personal attention in the Ivy League, but this year it’s especially prevalent with Dartmouth,” Cook said. “If any team got our spot at NCAAs last year, it was them.”
Both Gehman and Cook are cautiously optimistic about the Red’s chances this year at Ivy League Championships. They both cited last year as an example, where the Red dominated in the regular season only to lose in the conference Championships. The squad does not want a repeat of that this year.
“I never want to underestimate a team that’s ranked below us,” Gehman said. “There’s a lot of motivation to a crew that’s ranked below another crew. There’s an underdog mentality that I think can really kick in.”
The Red has been preparing for the Dartmouth match all week. According to Cook, practices have begun to take on race-like conditions; with every boat pushing every other one to the very fastest they can go.
“The coaches have made more of an effort to simulate race situations during practice,” Cook said. “Even when we do pieces and starts, the coaches will act like match officials and help us get in the race-mindset.”
Cook remains confident that a strong overall performance this weekend will be the key to defeating Dartmouth, citing the team’s depth as one of its greatest strengths. Gehman, too, was quick to point out how well the team has been performing in practice, and expects the same this weekend.
“They don’t have the depth that we have … That will certainly be our strength,” Cook said. “Bringing our A-game every race will be the most important factor for this weekend.”
“I think we’ve had a really great week of practice, and I think the boats are excited and ready,” Gehman said. “I expect good things.”
The Red will face Dartmouth Saturday at 9am.