This past May, while most Yalies were relaxing after the stress of finals, settling into their summer internships, or recovering from Myrtle Beach, members of the women’s crew team were competing at the NCAA Championships — on the cusp of making school history.
The Bulldogs raced in Rancho Cordova, Calif. on Lake Natoma, placing second overall in the team competition. Yale has appeared in the championships five times, but this silver finish was the best in Yale’s history.
“[Our] performance at the NCAA’s was amazing,” Yale head coach William Porter said. “The entire team performed at their best over a three-day period.”
Of the 90 Division I women’s crew teams in the country, a dozen teams are selected to compete at the NCAAs. Each of the 12 teams races three boats — two eight-person boats and one four-person boat. Yale was one of three teams to qualify all three of its boats for the Grand Final, where it earned 58 points to clinch second place. Brown racked up 70 to win.
Yale’s varsity four — consisting of Ari Romney ’06, Katie Curran ’06, Elizabeth Stowers ’05, Christine Geiser ’07 and Emily Shuey ’07 — started off the day for the Elis, finishing in fourth with a time of 7:34.4 to earn nine points. The second varsity placed fifth with a time of 6:50.4 and earned 16 points. The members of this boat included Emily Cleveland ’07, Charlotte Taft ’05, Jennifer Reifsnyder ’04, Dinah Dimalanta ’05, Rachel Withers ’04, Catherine Wassenaar ’05, Mary Kate Sullivan ’05, Annemarie von der Goltz ’06 and Jennifer Draxl ’04.
The Bulldogs were trailing Brown and California heading into the varsity eights race — the final one of the day. Though the Elis came off the line slowly, Jehan Budak ’05, Jane Moore ’06, Ashley Brzozowicz ’04, Claire Norsetter ’05, Maria Stevens ’06, Amanda Kendrick ’05, Joanna Hess ’06 and Rachel Jeffers ’07 decided to put up a fight. They asserted themselves in the third 500-meter to move from sixth to second place and tried to close in on Brown.
“Jehan Budak, our coxswain, must have been doing something right,” Porter said. “We slowly started to make our way back to the pack.”
The Yale women matched speed with Brown in the last stretch of the sprint but came up two seats short. However, the 33 points Yale picked up in the final race guaranteed it second place overall.
With seven members of the varsity eight crew returning, Porter expects these veterans to perform well throughout the season, which begins in October.
“There is no pressure to re-create or better last year’s finish,” Porter said. “It is a new year and a different team. We set our own standards, we will judge ourselves and ultimately we will strive to be the very best this team can be this year.”
The Bulldogs’ first real test will come at the Head of the Charles next month. As they have won this race the last two consecutive years, the Eli women plan on victory again.
“Although we lost a great senior class [last year], we have a very talented group returning,” captain Dimalanta said. “We are confident from our results last season and are ready to start over with out new team this year. We are working hard and look forward to our fall races.”