Eldon Lindsay/Cornell Athletics

Women's rowing team competes against Dartmouth and Brown on April 23, 2022 in the Cayuga Lake Inlet.

May 9, 2022

Women’s Rowing Finds Redemption at Sprints Regatta

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This Sunday, the women’s rowing team took on the Women’s Sprints Regatta, sending four crews to the grand finals out of the five events they competed in. The varsity eight team took home 13th place after winning the third level final, while the second and third varsity eight teams each took home third place medals. 

As the team set to launch, the conditions were fair, allowing for smooth, competitive racing. The Red’s varsity four B team scored third in its heat, earning a spot in the grand final. The team managed to take fifth-place overall with a time of 7:36.3, three seconds behind Harvard-Radcliffe’s fourth-place finish. 

The Red found similar success in the varsity four A. After winning its heat, Cornell secured a fourth place finish in the grand final, its time clocking in at 7:48.5.

Later on in the competitions, the Red’s third varsity eight narrowly took second place in its heat after Rutgers pulled ahead, claiming the heat with a 4-second lead over Cornell. Nonetheless, the team secured a seat in the grand finals. The competition was fierce, but the team placed third, surging across the line a mere two seconds ahead of Columbia. 

In the second varsity eight, the Red secured yet another third place grand final title. After winning its heat with a sweeping time of 6:43.1, Cornell moved onto the grand finals. After battling with Boston for the third place position, the Red emerged with the title, having edged out the Terriers by a split second surge over the finish line. 

In the Red’s final competition, the varsity eight advanced to the third level final, edging out Boston, Colgate and Holy Cross to win the race. Their time of 7:15.7 placed them in 13th place out of the 17 teams to compete. 

Head Coach Steven Coppola explained that the Red’s results were favorable considering the Red’s rocky return to competition earlier in the spring season. 

“We’ve felt like the team has been making some strides and developing,” said Coppola. “It feels good to have something on paper backing that up.”

The team’s struggles this season, in part, stem from their youth and inexperience with Ivy League competitors. Due to the COVID-19 cancellations in previous years, most of the team has the same experience as their freshmen members. Coppola said the team’s largest classes are freshmen and sophomores.

“We have that inexperience from not being able to race and also that literal inexperience,” Coppola said. “So I think what is happening now is that the team is starting to figure out what the demands are for racing at this level. The development is starting to come in and it certainly makes people excited not just for the present, but also for the future.”

In their efforts to improve, the team has focused on isolating issues within each boat and driving home solutions for each.

“We are turning our attention and lasering in,” Coppola said. “In each of the boats, we sit down and pick what we are working on and really diving deeper into that. I think it certainly helps narrow the focus a bit.”

Having put in the efforts to improve, the team hopes to replicate similarly favorable results at the Ivy League Championships later this season. 

“It definitely feels like we’re on the hunt,” Coppola said. “I certainly think if we have a good regatta next week, we’ll be able to put it on paper and show the rankings a little better. Ultimately, we feel as if we are improving, but your feelings don’t mean squat unless you put it on paper.”

Coppola also explained that regardless of the team’s efforts, it is plausible that the results will be primarily dependent on luck. Since the events are broken up into heats, the Red’s fate will likely depend on who they face in each heat, and how they stack up against each competitor as they face off for a spot in the grand finale. 

“We’ve seen in the different classes we can pick off your Harvard’s and your Columbia’s,” Coppola said. “But, you’re not guaranteed to go against them in the heat, and you’ve got to race who you have –– it’s going to be interesting.”

The team will approach the Championships with the intention of aiming to secure the highest possible ranking for each boat. Since each boat has the potential to earn points, every crew holds importance. 

“We are focused on trying to be strong across the team,” Coppola said. “We obviously want the varsity eight to be as fast as possible, but we want to celebrate the victories of each boat because they represent the future of the team.”

The Ivy League Championships will kick off at 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 15 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.