W. CREW | W. crew has tough NCAA run, looks to next year

The women’s crew made its tenth consecutive trip to the NCAAs this summer.
The women’s crew made its tenth consecutive trip to the NCAAs this summer. Photo by Carol Hsin.

A week after commencement, Yale women’s crew ended its season with a disappointing 11th-place finish at the 16-team NCAA championship on May 29. Three months later, the rowers are looking forward to improving upon the year and returning to the NCAAs.

Although each of Yale’s boats made it to the semifinals in May, none made it to the Grand Final to race for the championship. The first varsity boat had competed in the Grand Final for the last four years, finishing in first place three of those years. After failing to qualify for a spot in the Grand Final by four seconds, the first varsity boat rowed well in the Petit Final, earning a second-place finish.

The 2010-’11 women’s crew team was not as successful as it had been in previous years. The first varsity boat lost the Cayuga Cup to Cornell for the first time in a decade, and came in behind Princeton and Radcliffe as well in regular season matchups. However, there were still strong moments, such as Yale’s sweep of Boston University and Dartmouth in April. At the NCAAs, Yale finished below Princeton — which had been ranked No. 1 for much of the season — but above Radcliffe.

“There was some good racing at Eastern Sprints and NCAAs, but as a team we were disappointed with our final results,” said Kathleen O’Keefe ’12, the newly elected captain. “We are excited to start fresh this year and see what this group has in store.”

The incoming freshman class will be a large part of a successful rowing season. One new team member, Christine Devlin ’15, acted as coxswain for the United States boat during this summer’s World Rowing Junior Championship. Her boat won third place, after Germany and Romania.

Head coach William Porter said he was ready and eager to help his new team reach its maximum potential.

It will take a lot for this year’s team to match up to the 2010 women’s crew team, led by Taylor Ritzel ’10. That team won Eastern Sprints, with the first varsity edging Princeton by less than a second for first place. Yale took sixth place at the NCAAs that year, where its first varsity boat was again triumphant. Ritzel now rows for the U.S. national rowing team.

In this year’s NCAAs, the varsity boat finished eight overall, while the second eight and varsity four each finished 12th.

Overall, the Yale team earned 42 points, putting it in 11th place out of 16 teams. Brown won the championship with 85 points, edging out second-place Stanford with a close victory in the first varsity race.

The Bulldogs did better at the Eastern Sprints on May 15, with all three boats making their grand finals. The first varsity boat placed fourth, the second varsity placed second and the varsity four placed third. This strong performance helped the team qualify for the NCAA competition.

“I look forward to this year and the challenges ahead of us. I have no desire to look back at last year and reflect upon our performances,” Porter said. “They are behind us and in college athletics every year is a new year.”

Porter has been head coach for the past 13 years, and the team has made it to the NCAAs for the past 10 years.

“I cannot wait to get at it,” Porter said.

Clarification

An earlier version of this story stated that the team had qualified for the NCAAs for the past ten years. This referred to the qualification of the team as a whole, not of individual boats.

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