April 8, 2010

Women’s Rowing: Championship Ambitions

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After a great season last year, the women’s rowing team is looking to improve this year to make the NCAA championship. Although the performances at last season’s Eastern Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges (EAWRC) Sprints Championship were impressive, the team must perform better to earn a spot in the NCAA championship.The varsity 8 team from last season finished fifth in the petite final, and the second varsity 8 squad took first in its petite final. The novice team did very well last year by earning a spot in the grand final and taking third overall behind Brown. However, all the teams need to improve to make the grand final, which would give the teams a better chance to make the NCAA championship. Winners of the grand final are automatically placed into the national tournament, while the other spots are determined by a selection committee. Being included as one of the six teams in the grand final would give Cornell a good shot, but finishing in the top three teams gives the Red an even better chance. Also, the NCAA tournament this season includes schools with two varsity 8 teams and a varsity 4, instead of having individual teams qualify. This change means all of Cornell’s boats must perform well to make the championship. In a step towards these goals, the Red has opened the season strong with a second-place finish for the Cayuga Cup and a five-race sweep of Gonzaga. The third varsity team finished the weekend undefeated.“We had a great start to the season, and we had a chance to test our speed,” said head coach Hilary Gehman.“Across the board we did very well,” said senior captain Harlan Trevithick. “Against tough teams, we were able to prove our speed, which we have been building for this weekend.”Even though some of the results were good, the first weekend of the season revealed that Cornell still had much to improve on, as the team struggled against Michigan State, dropping four of six races.“We’re training very hard every day. We need more practice in our set boats and we need to get our boats as fast as we can,” said sophomore Niki Tsamis.“We want to improve across the board on our technical skills. We want to work on rowing as clean as possible to reach maximum speed,” Trevithick said.This season, Gehman has more rowers to choose from, as a change in the league eliminated a separate novice division. Previously, freshmen competed in novice races, but without these races, freshmen are now competing for spots on all boats. As a result, freshmen who are performing well have been inserted into the varsity lineups.“Everyone is mixed now and everyone is competing for a seat,” Gehman said. “The integration of the freshmen is the biggest benefit and biggest change this year.”“Now everyone’s pushing each other, and there’s competition for seats,” Tsamis said.Trevithick also senses a difference with this season’s team in terms of intensity level and atmosphere.“The race mentality is there and we’re racing intensely against others,” Trevithick said. “We’re a really tight-knit group. … We work well together. There’s a level of openness, honesty and sense of individual responsibility throughout the team.”

Original Author: Wankyu Lee