April 7, 2011

Rowers Race Toward Title

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The women’s rowing team, ranked No. 18, started the season off strong by winning the Cayuga Cup with a decisive upset win over No. 6 Yale, who had won the trophy the last eight years since the inception of the Cayuga Cup. The Red is working hard to maintain this momentum and race well against other teams in the conference and at the Eastern Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges (EAWRC) Sprints Championship to qualify for the NCAA championship at the end of the season.“We have a great group of athletes who are training pretty hard. We are very determined after last season to improve. We executed a very good race and are really happy with the effort. Everything came together,” said head coach Hilary Gehman.The team spent Spring Break training on Cayuga Lake despite challenging conditions and will continue to train primarily on the water, with some weight training as well as an erg test every few weeks.“We are getting in some morning rows to help blend and long afternoon rows. We are doing pieces on the water against each other and against the clock,” said senior co-captain Karleen Parajon.Now that the season is underway, Cornell is focusing on increasing its speed in preparation for other strong teams, such as Princeton, a team that the Red will compete against at Radcliffe this weekend.“Princeton is one of the top- ranked teams in the country, so we are going after them with everything we have. How we perform against them will be a good gauge of where we fit in with the top crews, so we hope to do well,” said senior co-captain Natalie Wingerning.The ultimate goal for the team is to qualify for the NCAA championship at the end of the season after Eastern Sprints. This year there is increased motivation to make the championship, since the team came close to achieving this goal last year.“We narrowly missed going to the championships last year,” Wingerning said. “There is a strong hunger to go this year and everyone is working really hard to go. Across the board, everyone is performing and doing the best they can to make the whole program faster.”Qualifying for this championship, however, is not a guarantee for any team. In order for Cornell to be in the best position possible to earn one of the spots, it would have to either win the regional championship — the five regional champions are automatically in the NCAA championships — or be nominated as one of 11 at-large winners by a committee. Cornell is vying for one of these 11 at-large spots. Three NCAA boats — the two Varsity 8 teams and the Varsity 4 have to make the grand final at Eastern Sprints and have to reach the Top-4 to be in a good position. Even if that goal is achieved, the committee makes the final selection based off the results from the EAWRC and the regular season.“Nothing is cut and dry about the championship. Unless we win the EAWRC championships, which Cornell has never done,” Gehman said. “We are hoping to have the results to put us in the 11 at-large invitations, by beating as many schools as possible during the regular season and at minimum making the grand final in all events at the Eastern Sprints.” “Top-3 or [Top-4] at the Sprints would put us in a good position for NCAAs, but its not a guarantee.”

Original Author: Nicole Wagner