GOLD RIVER, Calif.—The Radcliffe heavyweight crew is in Northern California to compete for a national title at the NCAA Division I Rowing Championships on Lake Natoma. The Black and White is making its 13th NCAA appearance in the 15-year history of the event.
Racing will be held Friday through Sunday at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center on Lake Natoma. The Black and White kicks off the weekend with its varsity eight heat at 9 a.m. Pacific Friday. The top three finishers from each of the three heats will advance directly to Saturday's semifinals, while the rest of the field will return to the course Friday afternoon for the repechage. The top three repechage finishers will also move on to the semifinals.
The second varsity eight and varsity four events will follow the same progression pattern. Radcliffe's second varsity heat is Friday at 9:45 a.m., and its varsity four heat is at 10:15.
The Season So Far
The Radcliffe heavyweights (11-4) have steadily climbed the national rankings over the last month of the dual season and entered the Eastern Association of Women's Rowing Colleges Sprints at No. 12 after defeating their last eight varsity opponents. The Black and White's dual campaign included wins against defending NCAA varsity champ Yale, Big Ten runner-up Ohio State and EAWRC medalist Dartmouth.
At one of the fastest, deepest Sprints fields in memory, the Black and White's three NCAA-level boats reached their grand finals, with the varsity eight and team finishing fifth.
Records and Rankings
The Radcliffe varsity eight enters the NCAA regatta ranked 17th nationally. The second varsity owns a 10-5 record, while the varsity four is 5-9.
Olivia Coffey (Watkins Glen, N.Y.) and Liz Soutter (Toronto, Ont.), both members of the Radcliffe varsity eight, were named to the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association all-region teams this week. Coffey was selected to the All-New England first team, while Soutter was an All-New England second-team pick.
Radcliffe assistant coach Cory Bosworth has been named New England Assistant Coach of the Year, the CRCA has announced. Bosworth is in her ninth season with the Black and White. She coaches the varsity four, which showed great improvement during the season, won a Beanpot title and reached the Sprints grand final.
Hitting the Books
Four members of the Radcliffe heavyweight crew have earned selection as CRCA Scholar Athletes: junior classics concentrator Jill Carlson (Newton, Mass.) senior social studies concentrator Jessica Flakne (Londonderry, N.H.), sophomore history concentrator Laura Savarese (New York, N.Y.) and junior engineering sciences concentrator Kirsten Van Fossen (Moorestown, N.J.).
To be chosen as a Scholar Athlete, one must be a sophomore, junior or senior with a grade-point average of 3.50 or greater and have competed in an NCAA-eligible boat for 75 percent of the season.
Radcliffe is making its 12th team appearance and its 13th overall trip to the NCAA Championships. The Black and White varsity eight qualified for the inaugural NCAA regatta in 1997, and Radcliffe reached the national championships as a team in each of the next eight years before a one-year hiatus in 2006. The Black and White then made three straight appearances before missing last year's regatta on Lake Natoma.
Radcliffe boats have advanced to eight NCAA grand finals. The Black and White pulled off the "triple grand" in its national-championship season of 2003, putting all three entries in the championship races for the first time. The varsity eight advanced to the grand final in 1999, 2003 and 2005. The second varsity eight has made it once, in 2003. The varsity four has
qualified for the grand final on four occasions. In 1998 and 1999, the boat took fifth (at the time the highest NCAA finish of any Radcliffe boat). The four placed sixth in 2002 and 2003.
On Lake Natoma
This is Radcliffe's sixth NCAA appearance on Lake Natoma. The varsity eight has reached the grand final in two of those years, finishing sixth in 1999 and earning a bronze medal in 2005.
The Trophy Case
So far this season, Radcliffe has won the Case Cup (vs. Yale), Beanpot and Beanpot team banner (vs. Boston College, Boston University, MIT, Northeastern), Allen-DeWolfe Trophy (vs. BU) and Rowlands Cup (vs. Northeastern).
Olivia Coffey and Rachel Rauh (Andover, Mass.), former teammates at Phillips Academy Andover, captain the Black and White. Coffey strokes the varsity eight and is in her fourth year in Radcliffe's top boat. Rauh has coxed the second varsity eight all season after splitting time between that boat and the varsity four the previous two years.
After narrowly missing semifinal qualification in its heat and placing fifth in the repechage, the Radcliffe varsity eight won the third-level final for a 13th-place overall finish at the 2009 NCAA Championships on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J. The Black and White finished sixth in the varsity four petite final and third in the second varsity eight third-level final to place 14th in the team standings.
Last Time Here
On the Black and White's last West Coast trip, at the 2008 NCAA regatta, Stanford passed Radcliffe in the third 500 meter of the teams' semifinal and kept the Black and White out of the grand final by about three-quarters of a length. Undaunted, Radcliffe stormed away from the petite-final field for a seventh‑place finish. The Black and White took the lead from Virginia with about 500 meters left and pulled away to a 3.22-second win. The boat's split of 1:35.79 was the fastest final 500 of any boat in any race that day. Radcliffe finished ninth as a team, with the second varsity eight and varsity four placing 11th and 12th, respectively.
Olivia Coffey is making her third NCAA Championships appearance and has been part of the varsity eight in each of those three trips. Jill Carlson coxed the varsity eight in its last NCAA appearance in 2009, while Kirsten Van Fossen and Rachel Rauh are also making their second NCAA appearances. Van Fossen was part of the second varsity eight in 2009, and Rauh coxed the varsity four.
The Varsity Eight
Olivia Coffey is in her fourth season in the Radcliffe varsity eight and is the boat's lone senior. Only she and coxswain Jill Carlson remain from the varsity that rowed in the 2009 NCAA regatta. Three other rowers return from last year's varsity eight: junior Liz Soutter and sophomores Mary Maginnis (Maple Glen, Pa.) and Michelle Pearson (Pembroke, Bermuda).
Celia Kohl (Wilton, Conn.) finished last season in the second varsity eight, while fellow sophomore Scout Moran (San Rafael, Calif.) was a part of the varsity four and junior Christina McClintock (Larchmont, N.Y.) rowed in the third varsity eight. Katie Wilcox (Winnetka, Ill.) is the Black and White varsity eight's only freshman.
I Wish They All Could Be ...
There are five Californians in Radcliffe's NCAA boats. Four are from Northern California: San Rafael's Scout Moran and freshmen Kelly Bauer (Orinda, Calif.), Brooke Carter (San Francisco, Calif.) and Greer Rosenbaum (Ross, Calif.). Junior Anne Carroll Ingersoll (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) hails from just north of San Diego.
Three members of Radcliffe's NCAA squad came to Harvard to play other sports. Anne Carroll Ingersoll and freshman Jenna Gregoire (Colorado Springs, Colo.) are members of Harvard's women's volleyball and swimming and diving teams, respectively. Sophomore Courtney Diekema (Holland, Mich.) had her career with the Crimson women's soccer team cut short by injury.
Four student-athletes representing Radcliffe this weekend began rowing during the 2010-11 school year: Courtney Diekema and freshman Deva Steketee (Orford, N.H.) in September, Anne Carroll Ingersoll in January and Jenna Gregoire in March, just weeks before the start of the spring dual season. Gregoire was introduced to the sport through ergometer work used as cross training for the sprinters on the Harvard women's swimming and diving team.
Olivia Coffey rowed in the bow seat of the U.S. women's eight that captured gold in the 2010 World Rowing Under 23 Championships in July in Belarus. The boat was coached by Harvard men's freshman lightweight coach Linda Muri. In November, former Radcliffe All-American Esther Lofgren '08‑09, Coffey's varsity boatmate at the 2009 NCAA Championships, won gold with the U.S. senior eight at the World Rowing Championships in New Zealand.
Food for Thought
Assorted facts about Radcliffe's NCAA squad: Jill Carlson's brother, Jack, captained on the Georgetown men's varsity heavyweight crew ... Courtney Diekema's father, brother and sister were all collegiate swimmers ... Christina McClintock is a staff writer for The Harvard Crimson ... The father, mother and brother of senior Mary Miller (Winchester, Mass.) all rowed for MIT, and another brother, Doug, played basketball for Harvard ... Liz Soutter's brother, Alex, is a Harvard senior and will row in the combination race of the 146th Harvard-Yale Regatta Friday evening ... Rachel Rauh studies Russian and Chinese ... Kirsten Van Fossen plays the violin.
Same Result, Three Decades Apart
Just two years after starting its rowing program and 30 years before capturing the NCAA title, Radcliffe won the 1973 national championship. That crew went on to represent the United States at the World Championships in Moscow. Radcliffe regularly sent crews to the Cincinnati Regatta, which served as the national championship for women's crew prior to the advent of the NCAA Championships, and finished as high as second in 1990.