Radcliffe looks for a strong start from its first and second varsities this weekend (photo courtesy David Silverman).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—With a young team guided by strong senior leadership—and plenty of talent—the Radcliffe heavyweight crew begins its season Saturday at the San Diego Crew Classic, ready to again challenge for dual trophies, Eastern Sprints medals and a 13th NCAA Championships berth in 14 years.
Head coach Liz O’Leary’s Black and White varsity eight opens the season ranked 14th nationally. Last season’s senior-laden crew earned a silver medal at Sprints and posted an 11-4 dual record that included seven straight wins to close the dual season. Each of Radcliffe’s five varsity entries medaled at Sprints, while the novice eight dominated its petite final.
While Radcliffe lost 11 seniors, including five from the varsity eight, most of the athletes responsible for that strong overall team performance are back. With a talented group of freshmen joining the mix, the Black and White has the tools to be competitive from the season’s outset despite a tough schedule.
Sophomore coxswain Jill Carlson is pacing the varsity eight for the second straight season. She is joined back in the top boat by senior captains Laura Huppert and Christine Baugh and junior standout Olivia Coffey. Each of the three oarswomen spent all of last spring in Radcliffe’s top boat, with Huppert earning All-America selection and Coffey garnering all-region honors.
Six of the nine athletes who helped the Black and White take the second-varsity bronze at last season’s Sprints are back in 2010: rowers Kate Morris, Jessica Flakne, Kirsten Van Fossen, Ariel Delgado and Carolyn Talley and coxswain Amanda Deutsch.
Radcliffe also welcomes back four of the five athletes from its varsity four, and a number of other accomplished rowers fill the team’s roster. The Black and White fielded as many as four different varsity fours, as well as a novice eight and novice four last season.
Those athletes will be joined by a strong group of newcomers to keep up fierce competition for seats and keep Radcliffe on track to complete its team goals this spring. The varsity fours are led by first-year coaching assistant Wendy Wilbur, while assistant coach Cory Bosworth directs the Radcliffe novices.
After opening its season in San Diego, the Radcliffe heavyweights will return to the Northeast for their usual challenging slate of dual races, starting with an April 3 visit to No. 5 Brown and concluding with the May 1 Beanpot against its Charles River neighbors. The Black and White will make its annual visit to Camden, N.J., for Eastern Sprints May 16 with hopes of wrapping up a bid to the NCAA Championships May 28-30 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.
Radcliffe begins its spring season at the 37th San Diego Crew Classic, America’s premier spring regatta. The varsity eight will be competing against other top collegiate crews for the Jessop-Whittier Cup, while the second varsity will race against a larger field for the Jackie Ann Stitt Hungness Trophy. The two-day regatta will feature 92 total races across seven lanes.
The Jessop-Whittier field consists of No. 3 Virginia, No. 10 Southern California, No. 16 Washington State, Saint Joseph’s, UC Davis, UCLA, Villanova and Grand Valley State. The Black and White competed against UVa and USC last season, finishing third in a three-team, head-to-head regatta.
The varsity eight starts its season with a 9 a.m. Pacific heat Saturday against USC, Grand Valley and UCD, seeking a top-three finish to earn a spot in the grand final, to be held Sunday at 9:15 a.m. Radcliffe will race in the third Stitt Hungness heat at 10:20 Saturday, needing to finish first or second to advance to Sunday’s 9:40 grand final. Washington State, Tulsa, San Diego State and Loyola will be the Black and White’s competition in the second varsity heat.
Cox: Jill Carlson, 8: Chrlstine Baugh, 7: Olivia Coffey, 6: Laura Huppert, 5: Mary Maginnis, 4: Tara Larson, 3: Meg Kehan, 2: Jessica Flakne, 1: Kate Morris
Second Varsity Eight
Cox: Rachel Rauh, 8: Celia Kohl, 7: Michaela Pewarski, 6: Katie O'Hanlon, 5: Ariel Delgado, 4: Shelley Pearson, 3: Liz Soutter, 2: Molly Tarrant, 1: Rachel Knaster