March 12, 2003

Readying for a Title

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Last year marked the first time the women’s crew ever made it to the national championships. Its success was primarily derived from hard work and dedication. Now, with the season rapidly approaching, the team hopes to feed off of last year’s momentum and surpass its previous accomplishments.

Coach Melanie Onufrieff has high expectations for the Red this season — and rightfully so. The crew worked hard through fall competition in order to prepare itself for the spring.

“It’s been good so far,” said Onufrieff. “Fall was a great way to get started and warmed up for the spring season.”

The team did not neglect to train over winter recess, either. In fact, it spent time during Christmas break rowing in Florida. This training consisted of two daytime rowing sessions in a river near Cocoa Beach for a week.

Team captain senior Kim Portmess said about the trip, “It was intense but fun. The week gave us a taste of the water to help us last through the hard, indoor winter training.”

Now that the mandatory seven-week rest period is over, the rowers are intently focused on the upcoming season. One goal the squad has in mind for the spring is to make some noise at the national championships.

“Last year was a good year because we made it to nationals. We didn’t do as well as we would have liked there, but we took away some good experience. This year, we want to be a force on the national level,” said Onufrieff.

The Red is also determined to beat Harvard this spring. Last fall, at the Princeton Chase regatta, it lost to the Crimson by two seconds.

“We are totally gunning for them this season,” said Portmess.

Yale, Brown, and Princeton are among other crews that the Red would like to best.

Last spring, the Red had tremendous difficulty with these crews, falling to Princeton in three different regattas, including the NCAA championship in Indianapolis.

Team leadership is one component the Red must have if it plans on being successful, and Onufrieff sees this quality in her upperclassmen.

“We have an excellent returning group and strong leadership in the senior and junior classes,” said Onufrieff.

The freshmen are a good mix of athletes but are still learning the ropes. Time will reveal their capabilities.

Currently, the crew is training rigorously in its indoor facility. It has not been able to row outdoors yet because of the unseasonably cold winter. Onufrieff, however, does not see the inclement weather as being a problem or setback.

“Sometimes you have cold winters and the only thing you can do is stick it out and keep doing the indoor training,” commented Onufrieff.

Two years ago, the team faced a similar weather condition and still had a fantastic year. The crew feels that this will be the case this season as well.

Onufrieff wrapped up by saying: “The girls are ready; they are counting down the weeks. We spend so much time preparing, they can’t wait to get out there and show their stuff.”

The team’s first regatta is at home on March 29 against George Washington. After that competition, the Red will not return home again until May 3.

From then on, it will be competing regularly until the end of the semester.

If the rowers perform well, their season could last well into the summer break.

Archived article by Mark Travers