Women's Crew | Tufts has mixed showing against powerhouses UMass and Ithaca
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 08:10
In crew, a spring season sprint lasts 2,000 meters. Fall headraces usually range between 4,000 and 5,000. But between back−to−back races and the row up to the starting line, members of the women’s varsity crew team estimate that they rowed an exhausting 20,000 meters on Saturday.
The extra challenge only added to the experience of what was a rewarding and exhausting day at the Seven Sisters Sculling Head on the Connecticut River in Northampton, Mass. Tufts raced against UMass−Amherst and Ithaca College, with each rower competing in two boats — a quad and either a single or a double.
According to coach Brian Dawe, the Tufts rowers had a good showing against UMass, a top−tier Div. I program with a sculling focus under the leadership of coach Jim Dietz, and Ithaca, which has the first varsity sculling program in the country.
The races went off in two waves. The first, at 10 a.m., featured sophomore quad races and upperclassmen 1X and 2X races. Tufts’ quads swept the event by taking the top three of six spots. Ithaca took the first three slots in the doubles event, but it was a toss−up for slots after that, with UMass and Tufts alternating. UMass dominated the singles event — the Minutemen took all but one of the top nine spots. Junior Caroline Ricard came in sixth place and senior Kate Breña came in 10th.
The second wave went off at 1 p.m. with reverse boating — upperclassmen quads and sophomore singles and doubles. Tufts captured second and fourth places in the quad race, with two Ithaca boats claiming first and third place.
The sophomore doubles struggled against a powerful UMass force, but Tufts women did significantly better in the singles events, with sophomore Taylor Maykranz finishing in second place and sophomore Laura Aravena in fourth.
According to Dawe, the women will be focusing more on quads in the two weeks leading up to the Head of the Fish, a regatta at which they will face Ithaca again.
“These fast Ithaca quads are troublesome because they are beating us by so much,” he said.
Water conditions were almost perfect over the weekend, although the strong current made the row up to the starting line particularly challenging. But according to Dawe, the regatta provided the whole team with a chance to become more confident racing in smaller boats, which is one of the goals of the women’s varsity fall season.
“Going into this they had a lot of confidence in their rowing in eights, but going into this you don’t know in terms of sculling,” he said. “What was really pleasing to see as a coach was that the team just did everything. Everyone was taking responsibility, and no one was standing around.”
Unlike most traditional college coaches, Dawe chooses to focus on sculling during the fall because he believes that smaller boats allow rowers to master technique and become independent.
“You appreciate self empowerment once you learn how to scull,” he said. “I like the camaraderie also. The boats are smaller, and a lot of scullers talk to each other on the water.”
The camaraderie was on display during this regatta in particular. Due to transportation difficulties, the Tufts women were late to the regatta, but they had help rigging their boats by members of the opposing teams.
The sport’s competitiveness balances out this camaraderie, though. According to senior coxswain Audrey Abrell, the fall season gives the Tufts women a chance to self−motivate while also keeping the team in mind.
“Rowers have had the opportunity to improve independently and attain personal goals while competing for the team,” she said.
According to Abrell, the regatta was the perfect display of what the women’s fall sculling program is all about.
“The whole point of us doing sculling is to give rowers experiences like this, to row and make friends with other boats on a unique course,” she said.