SEASON RECAP: Youth Leads The Way

Varsity eight finishes fourth at IRAs, while novices place first at Sprints

The 2007 spring season for the Radcliffe lightweight crew was not one for the record books.

During the dual season, the team went through many ups and downs, rising to place third at the Knecht Cup in early April only to fall later on against Ivy rivals such as Princeton.

In retrospect, it was a rebuilding season.

With a large group of underclassman racing in the varsity eight, an increasingly adept second varsity boat, and a novice eight comprised entirely of freshman recruits, this spring season gave hope for the future of the Black and White lightweight program.

And it was the novice eight that led this youth movement.

While the varsity eight could only muster a fourth-place IRA finish, the Radcliffe novice eight found nothing but success.

And this is not an overstatement—the boat was perfect, going undefeated en route to winning the gold medal at Eastern Sprints, a fitting conclusion to a historic season.

If this boat’s success is a sign of things to come, the lightweight program looks to be on the rise.

“Especially as a senior, looking at the program as a whole, it is exciting to know we have that kind of depth and strength,” lightweight captain Jennifer Chung said following Sprints. “They’re going to be around for the next three years, so it definitely means a lot for the program.”

And not one of the novice eight’s six victories was even close. A 17-second victory against the No. 2 Tigers, a 42-second rout of an embarrassed MIT crew, and a 14-second win over the Hoyas of Georgetown are just a few instances of its domination.

In a sport where races are often decided by seconds­—as was the case when the Radcliffe varsity eight fell to Georgetown by a single tick—these performances from a novice eight crew become all the more fantastic.

And in the Grand Final at Eastern Sprints, it was more of the same. The boat blasted off the line and coasted to an eight-second victory over second-place Wisconsin. Princeton was the next closest, 23 seconds behind.

The second varsity eight also peaked at the right time, posting a silver-medal performance on the day. Led by Chung, the boat saved its best for last, putting together its top race of the season at these championships. It proved a successful end to the boat’s dual season.

But what happened at IRAs truly determined whether this season was a success on its own, or if it was only one for the future.

Yet, even the presence of four new freshman rowers on the varsity eight could not change the Black and White’s fate. The varsity eight notched a fourth-place finish to end its year.

“We’ve been trying really new things—every time we are going into races, we are trying new techniques for training,” sophomore Kayla Feld said at the beginning of the season.

But Radcliffe will have to wait for the novices to mature before returning to the top of collegiate rowing. Despite winning its semifinal heat, the crew fell off the pace in the Grand Finals, dropping off the podium and into fourth place.

—Staff writer Walter E. Howell can be reached at