March 14, 2007

Youth Infuses Women’s Rowing Squad

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While most Cornell students spend most of their time far above Cayuga’s waters, the women’s crew members will pass a large part of their time at Cornell on Cayuga’s waters.

This time on the water has not been met with a large amount of success the last few years for the Red, though. With the influx of a talented freshman class joining a small, seasoned senior class and a vocal junior class, Cornell looks to be moving in the right direction.

“It’s a building year, but we’re definitely rising up now,” said senior captain Michelle Furbacher. “We’ve had some tough seasons recently, but since we have pretty strong youth, I don’t know how fast we can go but it will be faster than last year.”

Last spring, the Red’s season culminated with fourth-place finish at the Eastern Sprints. The highlight of the event — and much of the season — was the novice boats, which continuously raced impressively. At the Eastern Sprints, the first novice boat raced well enough to earn a ticket to the Grand Final, where they finished sixth, behind the fifth place finish of the second novice boat. With so many novices contributing and so many freshmen making their presence felt, upperclassmen leadership becomes especially important.

“We’re getting a lot of leadership out of the juniors and a lot of them have been working really well together,” Furbacher said.

The junior class — Kim Kraemer, Delana Spaulding, Caitlin Mance, Arael Canderleresi, Katie Storbeck, Ellie Bucholz and Julia Lippman — naturally assumes the leadership role because it more than doubles the tiny senior class of Furbacher, Kimberly Lyle and Diana Athonvarangkul. The two classes combined do not even match the freshman gaggle of 16 rowers.

“There’s a very small senior class with only three of us,” Furbacher said. “The better the freshman are, though, the better for the team. They push up and can row on varsity. There will definitely be some freshman on the varsity team.”

Because of all the freshmen, the biggest difference between the fall and spring semeseter is that the team all knows each other better, something which can go a long way towards success, according to Furbacher.

“Because we have such a young team, we’ve gotten to get to know each other [since last semester],” she said. “Our training camp [over winter break] was good for us even though it was kind of interesting. We had ice storms in Texas.”

And with the ice in Ithaca finally thawing, the Red are moving away from building endurance and preaparing for racing season which begins March 31.

“We started the winter off with a lot of steady state to get people in good shape,” Furbacher said. “Recently, we’ve been moving more towards shorter pieces to get ready for facing.”

In addition to getting in the requisite time on the erg, the women have been paying attention to the technical aspects of their strokes.

“We have some pretty good technical coaches now,” Furbacher said. “We’ve been working a lot on taking long strokes and making lots of connection time in the water. The longer your oar has contact with the water, the more water your oar moves and the faster the boat goes.”

Still, not everything is looking up for the Red.

“There have been a ton of injuries lately, which has been giving us a tough time,” Furbacher said.

Despite setbacks, however, the outlook is positive for the upcoming racing season.

“A lot of these girls don’t have a lot of racing expeience so it’s hard to tell how fast we can be,” Furbacher said. “We’re not going to win the NCAAs this year, but we are definetly on the upswing which is a change. … It’s a matter of guiding them [the younger rowers].”