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Radcliffe Crews Pull Into '96 Season With Lofty Goals

San Diego Crew Classic Will be First Test; Heavyweights to Open Against MIT

By Jessica E. Kahan

The ice finally melted on the Charles, and just as the crews made it onto the river, a deep freeze forced them back inside again. But the cold weather has not fazed the women of Radcliffe crew, who will open the season March 30.

This coming Wednesday, senior Laura Brookins, senior Sophie Bryan, junior Elizabeth Yellin, junior Layla Adolphson and sophomore coxswain Catherine Malone will leave for California to compete in the San Diego Crew Classic where they will face 12 boats from schools from both coasts.

"San Diego is a hard race for us because the California crews have been on the water since the beginning of February," Brookins said. "But we definitely think we have a shot to win."

The more experienced western teams won't be the only challenge for Radcliffe.

Villanova, one of the lightweight crew's toughest adversaries, won this race last year and is expected to be a force in San Diego again next week.

The conditions on the Pacific are also different from those on the Charles.

"It's different on salt water, and there are crazy winds in Mission Bay. It's an experience going out there," Bryan said.

After next weekend's trip to California, Radcliffe will have races on Saturdays leading up to Eastern Sprints on May 12 and a possible trip to nationals.

Traditionally, Radcliffe's toughest competition has come from Wisconsin, Fordham, and Villanova.

Additionally, this season many schools, including Penn, have added lightweight boats to their women's crew programs.

"There's a lot of new competition which should be exciting," Brooking said. "The biggest challenge is not knowing our competition but still going in with the confidence to win."

But looking ahead, the lightweight team is not without that confidence.

"Our goals are to have an undefeated season, to win sprints, and to win nationals," Bryan said.

Heavyweights Open at Home

The heavyweight rowers are also optimistic about their season. Instead of travelling to San Diego like it has in the past, the Black and White will open its season at home against Engineers of MIT on March 30.

"Travelling to San Diego breaks up our spring training," captain Cary Donaldson said. "We haven't raced MIT before. They're kind of an unknown, but it should be good racing experience with less pressure than facing a team like Princeton."

In addition to races against local rivals like Northeastern, MIT and Boston University, Radcliffe will face primarily teams from the Ivy League this season.

That is definitely not easy competition, however.

Princeton is the defending national champion and according to Donaldson, Brown looked especially fast during the fall.

Even with such formidable competition, the Radcliffe crew has set high goals for this season.

"Princeton has been a power-house for the last few years and Brown is also looking good, but I think we're also right in there with them," junior Demetra Koutsoukos said. "We'll be competition for them just like they'll be competition for us."

"My goal is to have a fast program as opposed to one or two fast boats," Donaldson said. "I'd also like to win the Points Trophy at Sprints. It would show that Radcliffe could be fast [as a whole]."

In addition to a strong performance at Sprints, a win against Princeton would have additional meaning to many Radcliffe rowers.

"A personal goal of mine is that I'd like to beat Princeton," Donaldson said. "They're the only team we haven't beaten in my three years here, and I think Princeton is definitely beatable. It's all a question of attitude, if we think we can beat them."

Even though the heavyweight crew lacks a lot of experienced senior leadership, the younger rowers are looking especially strong.

"We lost a lot of people from varsity last year," Donaldson said. "But we have a huge sophomore class, and there should be a lot of sophomores on varsity, which also bodes well for the future."

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