By JOSHUA SOMMERS
On Sunday, the women’s rowing team competed in the 51st Head of the Charles regatta in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cornell, along with 31 other competitors representing colleges around the world, raced five kilometers along the curvy Charles River and finished with a time of 17:23.990, good for a 22nd place finish.
“We did not have our best performance,” said head coach Elizabeth Dennison, “In this deep and competitive field, we need to perform our best. Though this was certainly not due to lack of effort from the athletes.”
Standing in the way of the team’s goals for this race was intense competition, including the Red’s Ivy League rivals and other strong teams, such as last season’s NCAA runner-up, University of California. California continued its momentum into the 2015-16 season with a first place finishing time of 15:58.626 on Sunday.
In addition to the opposition, the conditions at the Head of the Charles made a high finish no easy task for the Red.
“The Charles is [a] curvy and challenging course for the coxswain to navigate, both with bridges, turns and other crews,” Dennison said. “Our coxswain did a great job navigating the course, but the distractions at times got the better of the crew.”
While temperatures were cold – in the lower 40s — Dennison also said a persistent headwind presented the Red with yet another challenge.
Sunday’s result might have been less than ideal for the team, but it is only the Red’s first fall race and the team still has its entire spring NCAA schedule ahead of it. There is good reason for optimism, and senior captain Theodora Misthos looked at the Red’s race as a learning opportunity.
“We had a strong race and have identified some things that we can focus on to gain speed over the next two weeks for the Princeton Chase,” she said.
Misthos explained that the team has grown in size and as a result, she feels confident that the squad can excel both this fall, and in the spring.
“Our team is bigger than it has been for years and we’re really excited about the new talent,” she said. “It has resulted in healthy competition that’s raising the bar.”
Dennison echoed Misthos’ belief in the team, citing determination and commitment as two of the things that will help it succeed.
“The athletes are extremely determined and very hardworking,” Dennison said. “The commitment they have to excellence and to each other will serve them well. … We learn from every race and practice and will work to keep getting faster each day, staying focused on the process.”
As the Red moves on from Sunday’s race, it now focuses its attention on the Princeton Chase, which will take place on Nov. 1. There, the Red looks to convert its potential into a fast time and a stronger finish relative to the competition.
“Our goal is to establish ourselves as competitive contenders within the Ivy League at the Princeton Chase,” Misthos said. “[We hope to] end the fall season on a positive note.”