March 17, 2004

Depth Key to Women's Crew Success

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The women’s rowing team will race a tough spring schedule in the months ahead, but the team has the depth and strength to bring its best to each weekend.

“We have more people than seats,” said head coach Melanie Onufrieff. “It’s a really deep group, which makes it challenging for everyone. Everyone is pushed every day in practice.”

The team will begin its season on March 27 with a race that is new to the schedule in 2004. The Red will travel to Redwood City, Calif. for the Windermere Classic. Besides Cornell, the competition will be west coast schools such as Stanford, USC, and UC Davis. Tough east coast competition will also be represented, with Penn, Michigan, and Navy traveling west to compete.

“It will be schools we don’t usually see,” Onufrieff said, “and won’t see again until [the] national championships.”

Between the Windermere Classic and the Eastern Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges Sprints, the Red will face the likes of Yale, Syracuse, Harvard, and Princeton.

Onufrieff thinks the combination of a strong contingent of experienced seniors and freshmen that are still on the steep part of the learning curve will add up to success for the Red.

“The fall was okay,” she said. “We would have liked to be faster, but it showed there’s a lot here. We just have to figure out how to get the most out of it.”

The Red is prepared for the consistently tough competition in the regular season schedule, but will keep one eye on the Eastern Sprints at the end of the season.

“Championships are what we gear towards,” Onufrieff said. “To be fast and win medals at [Eastern] Sprints is our goal.”

The team’s performance at Eastern Sprints will determine how it finishes in the standings for the Willing Point Trophy. This trophy is awarded to the team that earns the most collective points during competition at the Eastern Sprints. Last year, the Red finished fifth in the final standings out of a field of 18 while Harvard went home with the trophy.

“This year we’re looking for everyone to come home from Eastern Sprints with a medal around their necks,” said Neuman. “And we’re looking to get invited to the NCAA championships.”

The Red’s performance at Eastern Sprints, along with regional rankings and head-to-head results from the season will determine whether or not the team will earn an invitation to the NCAA Women’s Rowing Championship. Only 12 teams are invited to compete in the national championship.

The team will be led by a strong senior class. Seniors Amelia Siani and Siobhan Steyn earned first-team Mid-Atlantic honors in 2003 from the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association. Classmate Neuman was a second-team CRCA honoree. Siani and Neuman will provide leadership and direction to a young squad this year as co-commodores. The team also returns all four varsity coxswains.

Onufrieff believes that the Red’s ability to stay focused and determined for each race as it comes up will take the crew far this year. The intense rivalries that will come alive on the water each weekend will also give the team an extra incentive to win.

“Every race has something,” she said. “A different reason to step up.”

Archived article by Olivia Dwyer