Radcliffe Prepares for Spring Season

In light of the recent snow showers, spring does not seem to be in the air. But for Radcliffe crew, the spring season begins this Saturday on the Charles River. Both the Black and White heavyweight and lightweight crews will host their first regattas of the season against Tulsa, with the lightweight team also competing against MIT.

For heavyweight crew, this spring season holds plenty of excitement, as the team will take on both Ivy League competitors and non-conference schools nationally ranked in the top twenty.

“We don’t have an easy weekend, [but] that’s the way we want it,” heavyweight coach Liz O’Leary said. “We want to be racing the best crews because that is going to give us an indication of where we stand.”

In its fall races, the Radcliffe heavyweight crew team found itself taking second place in two of its regattas, the Head of the Housatonic and the Foot of the Charles. The Black and White’s first varsity eight rowed to second place behind Yale, and Radcliffe’s second varsity eight topped the Bulldogs’ second boat at the Housatonic. In the Foot of the Charles, the Black and White’s A boat fell to Brown by three seconds, and the B boat rowed to an 11th place finish in the varsity four while Radcliffe fought off Dartmouth for first place in the novice eight race.

In the Head of the Charles, the Black and White’s top four took fourth place, with Cornell and Brown winning the top two spots.

“[We’re] looking for better results throughout the season in comparison to where we were last year,” heavyweight co-captain Olivia Coffey said. “We had a really tough rebuilding year because in 2009 we graduated a huge senior class.”

After Tulsa, Radcliffe will face a string of Ivy League competitors, including Brown on April 2 and Cornell and Princeton both on April 9. The speed and strength of the Tigers’ is on the mind of the Black and White. Princeton opened its previous spring season with a strong victory over Brown and Ohio State.

“We have a really demanding schedule, so essentially each of our races is going to be one of our toughest races of the season.” Coffey said. “The Ivy League always [produces] a lot of competitive boats; probably Princeton is going to be the strongest.”

Radcliffe will be able to use the fitness it built up over the winter and during its training session in Florida to find success and longevity throughout the spring.

“We spent a lot of time in Florida getting everyone rowing in a similar way so that we could be interchangeable throughout boats.” co-captain Rachel Rauh said.

“It’s a great team, and they’re having a lot of fun together.” O’Leary said. “We’re all ready to get the season going.”

In its fall season, the lightweight squad had its best performance at the Head of the Charles regatta, placing third behind Wisconsin and Princeton in the varsity eight.

The Black and White took sixth place at the Head of the Housatonic and placed 23rd at the Foot of the Charles where it raced against heavyweights.

“We’re looking to [see] improvement in terms of race results, especially in terms of looking back on past years,” assistant coach Carrie Morelock said. “We’re looking to really learn from each opportunity that we have to race and to improve week-to-week.”

After its disappointment over failing to medal in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships last spring, Radcliffe was fueled to train harder in the fall and in its winter training session in Florida.

“We’re hoping to combine the fitness we’ve gained to the technique that we’re working on and use that to propel us to victory in the spring,” co-captain Leah Schwartz said.

Following its race against Tulsa and MIT, the Black and White will travel to Georgetown on April 9. The Hoyas notched first and second place at the Jesuit Invitational against Boston College and Loyola (Md.) on March 19.

“There are so many really fast teams that will undoubtedly be strong competitors.” Schwartz said. “We’re going to have to treat every race like it’s the one to win.”

The only other Ivy that Radcliffe will face before the EAWRC Sprints Championship on May 15 is Princeton.  The race will be no easy task, as the Tigers took third in last year’s IRA National Championships, one spot ahead of the Black and White.

“We’re really looking forward to racing this spring—and that partly means we’re looking forward to winning—but we’re also just looking forward to the opportunity to put into practice all of the things we’ve been working on.” Morelock said.