Collegiate Championship Blog

Welcome to the 2016 USRowing Collegiate Championship Series Blog & to the May racing season! Dedicated to all things collegiate rowing, remember to check back here each week for important links, up to date information, pictures and more! 
  • Week One Recap! 51 Crews Race on Lake Quinsigamond over Weekend

    May 03, 2016

    The opening weekend of USRowing’s Collegiate Division’s Regatta Series did not disappoint as two major regattas hit the waters of Lake Quinsigamond. The New England Rowing Championships (NERC) kicked off this year’s series on Saturday while the 43rd Annual Women’s Sprints followed suit on Sunday. In total 51 institutions called Quinsigamond home over the weekend with exciting racing to follow. 

    Bates College continued their dominance in New England on Saturday as they captured the NERC Men’s Point Trophy and finished second in the Women’s Point standings after capturing gold in both Varsity Eight events. The Bobcats finished first in the combined point standings with 164.46 points on the day. On the Women’s side it was Wellelsey College’s day as they secured the Women’s Point Trophy thanks to wins in the 2nd Varsity and Novice Eight events.

    Bates College cruised to a first place finish in the Women’s Varsity Eight Grand Final with a time of 6:51.799. Wesleyan University followed at 6:54.787 for silver while Williams College rounded out the top three with a bronze finish. In the 2nd Varsity Eight it was Wellesley taking the top spot at 7:08.196 with the Bobcats on their tail at 7:11.549. Williams crossed the finish at 7:13.584 to capture another bronze on the day. The Varsity Four event proved exciting with a finish decided in less than a second as Connecticut College edged Bowdoin College with a time of 7:56.660. UMass-Lowell rounded out the top three with a time of 8:00.346.

    On the men’s side it was Bates once again pulling out a first-place finish in the Varsity Eight as they defeated Williams by over three seconds for gold. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) put up one of the most exciting performances of the day as they were barely edged by Williams by one tenth of a second as they captured bronze in the men’s marquee race. The 2nd Varsity Eight saw Williams edge Wesleyan by three tenths of a second for top honors with Trinity College rounding out the top three. University of Rhode Island earned gold with a 6:28.440 finish in the Men’s Novice Eight, narrowly edging out Tufts University. Bates rounded out the top three with a time of 6:31.347.

    Full results of the NERC can be found here

    On Sunday it was Harvard-Radcliffe and Boston University taking home top honors at Women’s Eastern Sprints, capturing the Willing Point Trophy (Openweight Points Champion) and Konrad Ulbrich Trophy (Lightweight Points Champion) respectively. The Crimson cruised to first-place finishes in all three NCAA-scoring events in the Varsity Eight, 2nd Varsity Eight and Varsity Four. They also took home gold in the 3rd Varsity Eight and Varsity B Four. 

    Northeastern University followed with 100 points in the Willing Point standings after an impressive second-place finish in the Varsity Eight and 2nd Varsity Eight while also capturing bronze in the Varsity Four. Dartmouth College rounded out the top three in point standings after medaling in the Varsity and 2nd Varsity Eight.

    Three tenths of a point separated Boston University and University of Wisconsin for the lightweight points trophy with the Terriers’ finish in the Varsity Eight propelling them to top honors. BU finished nearly four seconds ahead of Harvard-Radcliffe to capture gold while Wisconsin crossed the finish ten seconds later to secure bronze. The Terriers rounded out their impressive Sunday with a silver finish in the 2nd Varsity Eight and placed third in the 3rd Varsity Eight. 

    Wisconsin swept gold in every other event they raced in, taking home the top spot in the 2nd Varsity Eight, 3rd Varsity Eight and Varsity Four. 

    The openweight teams will await their conference championships as they battle for the coveted automatic qualification nods and at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament while the lightweight crews will continue their training for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championships. 

    Full results for the open weight races can be found here.

    Full results for the lightweight events can be found here

  • The Ladies in Action - Preview for the 2016 Women's Sprints

    May 03, 2016
    Open Weight

    On paper at least, the team to beat heading into the 2016 Women's Eastern Sprints is Harvard-Radcliffe.  Led by long-time mentor Liz O'Leary, now in her 30th year at the helm of the Black and White, Harvard-Radcliffe arrives at the Sprints on the heels of a typically demanding spring schedule and has undoubtedly been seasoned for top-level racing by the experience.  

    Radcliffe opened their season with strong racing at the Boston Women's Beanpot regatta, capturing four out of the five events contested, including a clean sweep of the NCAA events (Varsity Eight, 2nd Varsity Eight and Varsity Four).  Moving on through the regular season, besides racing the full complement of Ivy League opponents, Harvard-Radcliffe also saw top crews from around the nation at the Clemson Invitational on April 15th and 16th.  With all of Harvard-Radcliffe's wins at the Beanpot and during the season coming against Sprints opponents, the crews from Cambridge should have ample reason to be optimistic going into the regatta.

    Right behind Harvard-Radcliffe, and poised to take advantage of any missteps by the leaders are Northeastern, Dartmouth and Boston College.  Northeastern has raced strongly this spring, and appears to have found speed in April, as the Huskies arrive at Quinsigamond with solid wins over Sprints foes Dartmouth, BU and Columbia in the weeks before the championship.  Looking back to 2015, where the Husky Varsity Eight faded to 4th at Sprints after a promising spring, the 2016 edition of longtime NU coach Joe Wilhelm's top eight looks poised and ready to challenge for the podium.

    "Our goals all season have been to steadily improve our boat speed and racing skills," said NU's Wilhelm.  "This weekend will be a good test for us against some good competition.  The Sprints provides some great racing experience as we head into our conference championships as well as a valuable comparison among the six conferences represented here this weekend. The results of this weekend will definitely have an impact on the seedings at the NCAA’s next month." 

    Dartmouth in turn, who made waves at the 2015 Sprints under head coach Linda Muri, also will look to achieve a top performance at Worcester.   The Big Green have logged some serious highway miles this year, with no home races thus far, and are looking to make a virtue of their ability to race on the road.  "The biggest highlight this year has been seeing that many of the women on the team are beginning to learn how to push themselves physically and mentally," said Muri.  "Our goal at Sprints is to race well.  We hope to do better than last year where we had all of our crews medal, and try to step up an element or two for an overall better team finish." 

    Dartmouth's standout crew heading into the Sprints is the Varsity Four, which owns a win over top-seeded Radcliffe. 

    Boston College is also a crew that could row onto the podium in Worcester.  Boasting a large team, and competitive racing during a regular season that got off to an early start in mid-March, the Eagles will certainly be ready to race.  "We've made some progress from last year's spring results in every race," said BC's Steve Fiske.  "We are working hard to continue to make progress, though, because we know how fast our conference is, and we'd like to see that effort rewarded with progress and best ever speed in all events at Sprints and ACCs." 

    Besides two cup-race wins and a runner-up finish in a strong field at the Knecht Cup, BC is very familiar with their Sprints opponents, having finished third behind Harvard-Radcliffe and Northeastern at the Women's Beanpot. 

    Also looking for lanes in the finals, and medals if the stars align, are Columbia, BU and Rutgers.  Columbia has faced its usual tough slate of Ivy League and eastern opponents, while BU and Rutgers have benefitted from the rigors of full schedules and hard racing as well. 

    Completing the field for the 2016 EAWRC Sprints are Bucknell, Holy Cross, Drexel, Georgetown, MIT, Buffalo and West Virginia. 

    As always, the coaches know that all teams at the Sprints will be primed to perform.  "Both Harvard-Radcliffe and Northeastern have shown some great speed as the regular season unfolded, but there are so many strong competitors in the Sprints League it is hard to single out any one team," said Dartmouth's Muri.  "No matter what, we are looking forward to some competitive racing across the board!"  NU's Wilhelm agreed.  "Radcliffe is clearly the fastest crew here, but other crews have been steadily gaining speed throughout the season. A lot can change between the end of and the beginning of May, so we will be prepared for anything this weekend."


    Women's collegiate lightweight rowing is a fairly small world; few schools support full-fledged lightweight rowing, and it's with intense pride that the teams that do compete all year.  The Women's Sprints represents one of the highlights of the racing season every year, and with just a few short weeks to go until the IRA National Championship regatta, all the lightweight teams are working on their top gear at this time of year.

    This year, the newest kid on the block is also making the loudest noise.  A mere five years since being added as a Varsity sport by Boston University, the BU Terriers enter the Eastern Sprints as the team to beat.  This is not by accident--the BU lights have bested all comers from the East coast this year, their only losses coming to defending national champs Stanford. 

    "It's definitely part of the process," said BU Lightweights head coach Malcolm Doldron.  "I look at some of our competitors and see rich, multi-time-championship-filled histories.  We haven't been around long enough to experience that.  I'm confident we can get there eventually, but we're still a very young program with tons to figure out." 

    The BU Lights have proudly produced several program firsts this year: besides their 2nd place to Stanford at the San Diego Crew Classic and the Knecht Cup (both were top finishes for BU), the Terriers captured the Founders Cup for team points at the Boston Lightweight Invitational in mid-April, and followed that up with the program's first ever title in the Boston Lightweight Beanpot, where BU swept the eights racing against Radcliffe and MIT. 

    This run of success has no doubt occasioned a surge of positive emotions in BU's DeWolfe boathouse on the Charles in Boston.  Of course, any coach will tell you that it can be difficult to run on emotion alone; however, this BU Lightweight team seems to be taking care of all facets of the game.  "We are constantly learning, developing, and growing as a team," said Doldron.  "We've made plenty of mistakes along the way, but the team has shown a high level of tenacity and grit.  Our goal at Sprints is to race to our potential.  If we do that, I believe every crew we field is capable of winning." 

    In collegiate lightweight rowing, however, there are no sure things, and as much as BU knows their competition, they will not be taking them lightly.  The Harvard-Radcliffe lightweights, themselves just two years removed from capturing a national title, find themselves in the unfamiliar position of "first pursuer" as teams head to Worcester. 

    Under first-year head coach Sarah Schwegman, the Radcliffe lights might have surrendered their crown as the top crew in the East to BU this year, but have had the same strong results during the regular season that the program, with its long and proud history of lightweight rowing, has been accustomed to.  In addition to their 3rd place in the Lightweight Invitational, and 4th place at the Knecht Cup, Radcliffe claimed wins in both of its cup competitions with Georgetown and Princeton. 

    Also looking to put the squeeze on to BU and Radcliffe for that top spot on the podium are the Wisconsin Badgers.  Like Radcliffe, Wisconsin has a proud and storied tradition in women's lightweight rowing, and also like Radcliffe, the Badgers boast national titles in their team's recent history.  New Wisconsin head coach Dusty Mattison has direct ties to that tradition, having served as novice coach for the Badgers during their last title run in 2010. 

    "I feel pressure to get Wisconsin back on the map, but I am really trying to keep everything in perspective and have fun," said Mattison.  "It is helpful to have the past to pull from and be able to look at benchmarks to keep us on track.  We know it is going to be extremely difficult to medal at Sprints and the IRA so being in those racing situations are valuable learning moments." 

    Head to head, the matchup between Radcliffe is intriguing, with Wisconsin owning the slight edge of a 1.5 second margin (only about three seats) over Radcliffe in the final of the Knecht Cup.  A battle royale between Wisconsin and Radcliffe would be sure to put the pressure on BU to keep their bow ahead. 

    "We talk a lot about focusing on the controllables," said Wisconsin's Mattison. "Since we just have one trip down the course this will be a true test of that mindset. Putting this into play is our biggest goal for Sprints." 

    Rounding out the lightweight field at the Eastern Sprints are Princeton and Georgetown.  The Tigers are fielding one of the youngest teams at the regatta and have been ramping up their team speed over the course of the season.  After finishing third in San Diego behind Stanford and BU and dropping their cup race to Radcliffe, the Tigers finished off their regular season with a strong win over Georgetown. 

    Also never to be counted out, Georgetown will look to hold their own in the lightweight racing on Lake Quinsigamond. 

    The field among the EAWRC Lightweight women may be small, but the coaches don't see this as a disadvantage.  "The teams tend to be more knowledgeable of each other, we know each other's racing tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses," said BU's Doldron.  "The level of competition is extremely high but so is the level of respect and sportsmanship among the programs."  

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