March 29, 2012

W. ROWING | Team Set to Race First Double Dual Match of Season

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After a long fall season of training and preparation, the women’s rowing team will begin its spring season at Syracuse on Saturday.

Cornell will have to face two opponents in this weekend’s meet. Beginning at 9 a.m., Cornell will take to the water against Rutgers, while Syracuse will race Boston University.

“The winners from each of those races will race each other in the afternoon and the losers will race the losers,” said head coach Hilary Gehman. “That’s kind of the double dual system.”

While Cornell will face off against Syracuse’s perennially strong team if it hopes to pull away with a win this weekend, the team is confident in its ability to perform well.

“I think we’re in a really good position this year to be fast and win our races this weekend,” Gehman said. “We’re looking to race our best and go for a good race time.”

According to Gehman, this year’s schedule will contain mostly dual and tri meets. Additionally, most of this season’s races will be in the “double” format, so the Cornell team will race more than once on any given race day.

“This year almost every race is the double race format, which is new,” Gehman said. “I’m really happy that it’s come together that way because it’s great preparation for the Ivy League Championships.”

This is the first year that there will be an Ivy League championship for women’s rowing. It was  created after a change in the system that qualifies teams for the NCAA tournament. Previously, the Ivy League belonged to the Eastern Sprints Rowing League, which included teams like Syracuse. In 2013, a conference qualifier system will be put into place for half of the NCAA championship teams, with the winning schools advancing automatically to the NCAA tournament and the remaining schools competing via at-large invitations. The shift from a regional qualifier system to a conference automatic qualifier system allowed the Ivy League to have its first ever Ivy League championships, which is scheduled for later this spring.

According to Gehman, Cornell will continue to face stiff competition in the Ivy League, as the other Ancient Eight schools have historically had strong women’s rowing programs.

“Cornell has never won the Ivy League. We’ve only beaten Princeton once in 1983 and we began racing them in 1976,” the head coach said. “In terms of being ‘the winner’ of the Ivy League … that’s going to be challenging.”

Gehman remained optimistic about Cornell’s chances of garnering an invitation to the NCAA tournament, citing the team’s endurance, dedication to hard work and depth as the its greatest assets. An invitation to last year’s NCAA tournament eluded the 2010-2011 team — something Gehman does not want to happen to this year’s team.

“We had a great spring season last year, our best spring season that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Gehman said. “We were not invited to NCAAs, and as a result I think that’s fired up the team to work harder and to really dig in and push themselves as hard as possible.”

According to the head coach, the team looks forward to competing and being able to showcase the amount of work everyone has put in over the fall and winter.

“I think everyone is really excited,” Gehman said.  “This is what we train for.”

Original Author: Alex Gatto