Radcliffe had early success against IRA winner Wisconsin and runner-up Georgetown, beating both at the Knecht Cup.
The Radcliffe lightweight crew enjoyed another solid campaign this season, with the varsity eight finishing 4-3 in dual meets and beating out nemesis Princeton to take home the Knecht Cup and win the Windemere Classic.
The Black and White was able to surpass the Tigers yet again in the final race of the season, grabbing the bronze medal by finishing third at last week’s Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships (IRAs).
While Radcliffe took home hardware at the IRAs for the sixth straight season, they were unable to overcome the speed of a strong Wisconsin crew, which won its second-straight IRA championship, or the challenge of surprising Georgetown, which came in second.
“I think part of our problem [was] that we were fixing too much on Princeton...we see them a lot and we tend to fixate on them a little bit,” junior Rachel Orler said. “IRAs was kind of a shocker for us because we’d always beaten Georgetown in the past.”
“It was disappointing to have a third-place finish to cap it off, but there were definitely some high points to the season,” senior Sarah Bates added.
Despite being unable to capture gold in the season finale, the Black and White did indeed have numerous highlights.
In addition to winning the Windemere Classic and capturing the Knecht Cup, the varsity eight also beat out Georgetown by 11 seconds to take the second annual Class of 2004 Cup on the Charles River.
In winning the Knecht Cup on New Jersey’s Cooper River, Radcliffe bested an impressive field of six, edging second-place Princeton by over three seconds and also beating Wisconsin and Georgetown.
And the Black and White went 3-0 in Redwood Shores, Calif., including wins over Princeton and Stanford, to take the Windemere.
“The first big highlight was really the Windemere, when we beat Princeton right off the bat,” Orler said. “Then at the Knecht Cup, beating Princeton and Wisconsin, that was [another] high point for us.
“We would have liked to follow up and do the same at the IRAs, but unfortunately the racing didn’t go as we’d hoped,” she added.
After losing by nearly 10 seconds to Radcliffe at the Knecht, Wisconsin would have its revenge on the Black and White later in the season, as the Badgers’ varsity eight beat it out to win the Eastern Sprints title as well as the IRA Championship.
Wisconsin topped the Radcliffe eight by six seconds at the Sprints and more than seven seconds at the IRAs. Once again, the midwesterners gained speed as the season went on, ending the year as the boat to beat in the national championship.
“They don’t get on the water until later in the spring, and so they get a lot faster [very] quickly, whereas we have been able to train starting mid-February on the water,” Bates said. “They’ve always shown that they’re incredible athletes and rowers.”
The Black and White may yet be able to find that extra speed to challenge the Badgers next season, however, as the varsity eight is graduating just two seniors—its captains—Bates and Ashley Antony.
“There’s a strong group of rising seniors, [and] the sophomores from this year will really step up,” Bates said.
—Staff writer Caleb W. Peiffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.