The women’s rowing team met mixed results against No. 10 Brown and No. 18 Columbia on Saturday in its last home race of the season. In the first-ever Dunn Bowl, the No. 16 Red fell to the Bears in three of five races and topped long-standing rivals Columbia in all but one.
In the varsity eight race, the Red started out strong, initially taking the lead over both the Bears and the Lions. However, Brown pushed ahead about halfway into the race, taking advantage of its position on the inside of a turn to get in front of Cornell. According to senior Anna Psiaki, the Red may have been surprised by the Bears’ early advantage.
“We were ahead of them and we were a little thrown off,” Psiaki said. “Even though we went into the race with the mentality that we would beat Brown, we needed a little more confidence and drive.”
Senior captain Steph Lohberg says Brown’s competitive mindset and drive ultimately gave the Bears an edge over the Red.
“Brown knew we were going for them,” she said. “They just decided not to let that happen. I definitely respect the amount of heart they put into the racing.”
Though the Red finished just 2.3 seconds behind the Bears, Cornell left Columbia in the dust. Despite a history of surprise defeats to the Lions, the varsity eight came in a hefty 8.2 seconds ahead.
“I think that everyone was just over losing, in a way,” Lohberg said. “A lot of our boats had never beaten Columbia and we realized that this was one of our last shots.”
A tight race in the second varsity eight ended with Cornell in a close third, just 3.4 seconds behind Brown. Meanwhile, the second varsity four led its sole competitor Brown by 29 seconds, while the third and fourth varsity eight boats fell to Brown.
In the varsity four race, Cornell topped both Brown and Columbia by a massive margin. Clocking in 10.2 seconds in front of the Bears and 20.5 seconds ahead of the Lions, the Red cruised to a victory that Lohberg hopes will help the Red’s chances at NCAA qualification.
“The margin the varsity four has was awesome,” she said. “That will definitely help us a lot in the rankings … The fact that we beat Columbia shows that it’s anyone’s game and most boats were closer to Brown that we’ve ever been before.”
Both women hope that this weekend’s results will increase the Red’s confidence going into the first-ever Ivy League Championships in May. Due to a recent change in the NCAA qualification system, this is the first year that an Ivy League Championship will take place. The NCAA plans to instate a new conference qualifier system wherein the winning team from each conference will automatically advance to the tournament. Remaining schools will battle for at-large invitations.
“This race gave us the confidence that we are definitely faster than Columbia,” Psiaki said. “It shows that we can be in the top three, if the not the top two or even the best Ivy.”
The squad also celebrated its 13 graduating seniors with a post-race ceremony in which their junior teammates prepared speeches, cupcakes and a rap. According to Lohberg, a large number of senior parents also traveled to Ithaca for the Red’s last home race.
“Our class is really tight and a lot of us came in together as walk-ons,” Lohberg said. “We were just this bunch of girls that didn’t know how to row at the beginning, so we all feel this sense of a bond that you share starting from scratch together, even with the recruits. We’re a pretty big class and a lot of the girls live together, so it was kind of a sad day afterwards.”
Despite a bittersweet day and mixed results, the Red is looking ahead to its last regatta of the regular season, the Ivy League Championships, and, hopefully, the NCAA tournament, Lohberg said. Cornell will take on No. 19 Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H. on Saturday before traveling to Camden, N.J. for the Ivies on May 13.
“We need to have absolute confidence and more drive for the rest of the season,” Psiaki said. “We need to know that we can make the NCAAs and that we really are more secure in that spot than in past years.”