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Solidifying its claim as the Charles River’s most dominant crew, the Radcliffe heavyweight women’s team beat crosstown rivals BU and MIT in blustery conditions Saturday morning.
“We faced some tough racing conditions,” co-captain Sarah Psutka said. “There was a ridiculous tailwind and a crazy chop. It added to an already tight, competitive race.”
Ranked fifth nationally and second in the east, Radcliffe (9-1) beat BU for the eighth time in nine years to retain the coveted Allen-DeWolfe Trophy.
In the morning’s marquee race, the Black and White beat the BU varsity eight by one-and-a-half boat lengths in 6:35.8. The Terriers, who came into the race ranked 19th nationally and eighth in the east, clocked in at 6:40.3, followed by the Engineers at 7:46.3.
At the Harvard Bridge, the Black and White made a powerful move to build a virtually insurmountable lead. After gaining considerable momentum, Radcliffe rowed a strong third 500 meters and widened the gap even farther before crossing the finish line.
“We got open water at the sprint and never looked back,” junior Lis Lambert said. “It was an ugly race—not at all pretty but really gritty. In the end it was a tight race with BU, but MIT was a non-factor.”
The second varsity eight race featured an added twist, as Radcliffe’s top lightweight crew competed against the heavyweight boats from both the Black and White and BU. The Black and White was scheduled to race MIT, but the Engineers didn’t have a lightweight eight.
“We wanted to step up the competition, so we sort of unofficially jumped in the heavyweights’ race,” co-captain Jessica Hertz said.
Radcliffe’s lightweight boat finished in 6:59.4—4.5 seconds behind its teammates in the heavyweight boat and more than 15 ahead of BU.
The lightweights, ranked second nationally, stepped up against the heavies and gained ample confidence from the performance.
“We’ve been doing pieces all week in preparation for this weekend,” Hertz said. “We just tried not to get tuned out by the factors and conditions racing against the heavyweights. We went out and hung tough with them.”
In the only lightweight matchup of the day, Radcliffe’s ‘B’ four fell to the MIT four by 22 seconds to finish second out of four teams.
In the varsity four race, the favored Radcliffe ‘A’ boat notched a three-second win over BU’s top boat, finishing in 7:39.3. The Radcliffe ‘B’ boat came in at 7:49.1, just nine-tenths of a second ahead of BU’s ‘B’ four.
“Both of our boats started down in the race, behind BU,” Psutka said. “We managed to make it up in the third 500. We had a great second 1000 that race. We were really proud we pulled it out.”
Radcliffe similarly dominated the novice races. In the Novice ‘A’ race, the Black and White finished at 7:04.4, more than a boat length-and-a-half ahead of BU and over 40 seconds before MIT. Radcliffe won the Novice ‘B’ race by two lengths.
“It was a good weekend for the heavyweights overall,” Lambert said. “We had some victories across the board. Our novices got their acts together. Our fours have been struggling, and it was nice to see them put it together.”
In their final dual race of the spring, the Radcliffe heavyweights face Northeastern next weekend on the Charles for the Rowlands Cup.
—Staff writer Sean W. Coughlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer John R. Hein can be reached at email@example.com.
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