Women’s crew opened its fall season at the Head of the Housatonic race in Indian Wells, Conn., on Oct. 8. Coming off its sixth-straight NCAA Championship last May, this was the first opportunity for the team to display the results of its hard off-season training and to show that it will continue to push the competition this season.The Head of the Housatonic was also the first race for the team under new Head Coach Kate Maloney, who joined the team over the summer.
The team has responded enthusiastically to the opportunity to train under a new coach this year. “We are having such a great time getting to know her,” co-captain Kate Shaper ’12 said. “She is doing a fantastic job of taking leadership in a way that acknowledges what has worked for us in the past. She brings a lot of energy and joy to the program, and we can’t wait to continue working with her.” Maloney took over for Interim Head Coach Brad Hemmerly, who is now an assistant at Syracuse.
At the Housatonic, the two varsity fours – which were composed of rowers from the two eights – started off the morning by rowing a division higher than normal in the Div. I fours race. The two boats placed seventh and ninth, respectively, behind several Yale and Harvard boats.
The 1V continued the team’s strong performance several hours later. Competing in the Div. I race against many of the fastest crews in the country, the 1V came in an impressive fourth place in a field of 16 boats. “We came through the starting line in a challenging position between two Harvard crews and were able to maintain our position throughout the race, setting an aggressive rhythm,” Emma Pelegri-O’Day ’12 said.
“We had an opportunity to dig into the mental and physical challenges of the fall’s longer races,” co-captain Sydney Tooze ’12 said. The fall courses are typically significantly longer than spring courses.
The 2V finished up the day for the team, competing in the non-Div. I eights race and taking second behind Coast Guard. “Racing at the Housatonic was a great chance for the 2V to test a new lineup and to get in some racing strokes,” four-seat Katherine Amano ’13 said. Most of the other boats in the race were the 1V boats of other schools, so the result bodes well for the 2V’s ability to compete against the fastest varsity boats in Div. III racing.
“The weather was perfect, and the competition was really good,” Maloney said after the race. “I think the women rowed very well and handled rowing in new lineups and new boats with excitement and enthusiasm. It was a great way to start our season, and I know everyone is looking forward to finding more speed for the Head of the Charles.”
The Head of the Charles will take place on Saturday and Sunday in Boston. As one of the largest races in the country, it will be the most important competition for the team this fall season. Last year, the women won the race and set a course record. “The Housatonic race was a great precursor to the Charles,” Tooze said. “We’re excited to see how two strong lineups can perform this weekend.”