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Saturday, April 15, 1978. The Princeton heavyweight crew cruised to an eight-second victory over the Radcliffe eight on a choppy Charles River course. The Cliffe J.V. dropped its first race ever in second boat competition, falling by 11 seconds to its Tiger counterpart.
Both crews went on to lose to Yale, and for the first time in history, the Radcliffe varsity failed to make the finals in the Eastern Sprints. Luckily for the women in black, the finals they didn't make were never held due to unrowable conditions in Pittsfield. Mass.. but the memory of that awful heat still lingers on.
Saturday, April 14, 1979. The Radcliffe heavyweight crew avenged its 1978 defeat with a six-second, open-water victory over the Tigers on Princeton's Lake Carnegie. The J.V. picked up a three-second win.
Many coaches would have called the Radcliffe heavyweight crew's 1978 season a "rebuilding year," citing the loss of all but three of the oarswomen from the 1977 eight that finished second to Yale in the Sprints. First-year coach Carie Graves, however, made no excuses. And no promises.
Graves didn't have a lot to say about her squad's performance last year, or its prospects for the 1979 season--and she still doesn't. But she's perhaps a little happier after this weekend.
The Radcliffe squad remained a big question mark until Saturday. The heavies' big wins over Williams last week were a nice way to start the season, but a crew victory over the Ephwomen is not really anything to write home about. Graves and her crew knew that the big test would come this weekend in Princeton.
The tough Princeton eight is stroked by Ann Marden, who rowed on the U.S. national team last summer, and features several oarswomen with experience in prep school and on the junior national team. Tiger coach Kris Korzeniowski, who will select the women's national eight this summer, was pleased with his team's performance despite the loss.
"From my point of view, Radcliffe almost peaked. We haven't done any speed work--we're peaking for the Easterns," Korzeniowski said yesterday.
"This is racing season--of course we're doing some high cadence work," Graves said yesterday, adding that her team had not yet peaked. "I think they can go faster," she said, "and I still may make some changes in the lineup."
It's still a little early to get excited about the heavies' chances to cop the Eastern title that has been missing from Weld since 1975. The Yale women loom as the crew to beat, and the victory won't come easily.
"Yale is not invincible--no one is," Graves said. "We're better racers as a group than last year--we'll see."
"Yale is about the only other boat we have to worry about," sophomore seven-seat Anne Benton said yesterday. Still, the Eli women lost only one rower from last year's eight that crushed the varsity by 16 seconds in New Haven, and that looked like a good bet to win the cancelled Sprints.
The showdown comes April 28 on the Charles, but next weekend's confrontation with Dartmouth may provide a few clues--Yale's first eight whipped the Big Green by 9.5 seconds (two lengths) in Hanover Saturday.
Whatever happens in Cambridge on April 28, however, the Radcliffe heavyweights have come a long way this year. With only three seniors on the varsity, the women in black will have a good chance in the coming seasons to regain the national preeminence they held a few years ago.
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