Women’s Crew: Varsity four boat gets first win at Rowlands Cup

Women’s Crew: Varsity four boat gets first win at Rowlands Cup

By Guy D. Schoonmaker

The Rowlands Cup once again belongs to the Radcliffe Cliffies after they defeated the Northeastern and Boston College women’s crew teams on the Charles River Saturday.

The race was the starting point of the season for all three teams, and it marked the 19th time Radcliffe has won the race in 23 tries. Northeastern has won the other four races, most recently in 1998.

Radcliffe proved why it ranked third in the nation last season by winning the event for the eighth straight year.

Coach Joe Wilhelm said he was expecting more from the team.

“We’re not happy with the way we raced,” he said. “But you don’t know what to expect this early.”

Radcliffe started the 2,000-meter race by taking an early lead, but Northeastern pulled even at the 500-meter mark. The second 500 meters was where Radcliffe made a strong move and pulled a length ahead. Northeastern pushed to gain ground, but the Cliffies had an answer every time NU pursued them. Radcliffe finished the race on the Charles River with a time of 6:36.5 to Northeastern’s 6:42.0, with Boston College finishing last at 6:57.7.

The water was rough at times on the cool overcast morning, with a tailwind reaching 16 miles per hour. Wilhelm was impressed with how everyone kept their composure.

“Everybody handled it really well,” Wilhelm said. “There were no major mistakes by anyone.”

The women’s second varsity team gave a valiant effort in its race. After the first 1,000 meters, Northeastern was a length behind Radcliffe. The team of eight then staged a comeback to close the gap, but they came up .8 seconds short.

The bright spot of the day may have been the varsity four boat, which took care of Radcliffe by 9.7 seconds. Radcliffe was even with Northeastern for the first half of the race, but Northeastern made a strong move in the final 1,000 meters leaving Radcliffe unable to recover from.

“It was very impressive what they did,” Wilhelm said. “In those kind of conditions, it’s even harder for a four [boat], but they did an excellent job.”

Senior Captain Devon Gracey was pleased with the team’s performance.

“Overall, as a team, we had a good day,” Gracey said. “Radcliffe is a really good team.”

Gracey is co-captain this year along with senior Christina Mulka.

Wilhelm said his teams were getting off to great starts and finishing strong as well, but they need to learn to maintain their momentum throughout the whole race.

“That will be a focal point throughout the entire program,” Wilhelm said. “I think it is a solid starting point. We were in striking distance of one of the best crews in the nation. But there is definitely room for improvement.”

The long-term goal for the team is to get invited to the Eastern Sprints Championship, and then hopefully to compete in the NCAA Championships, Wilhelm said. The team is not ready to look that far ahead, however.

“Right now we have to take it one race at a time,” Gracey said.

Wilhelm’s squad has a big week ahead, as they travel to California for the San Diego Crew Classic on Saturday and Sunday.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Gracey said. “It’s going to be great to see crews on the other side of the country every race will be tight.”

They will face some of the top rowing programs in the country including University of California Berkeley and Wisconsin University, two schools in the top 10 in the nation. Northeastern will be the only team representing the east coast in the meet.

Leave a Reply