If Sunday’s Belly of the Carnegie in Princeton, N.J. is any indication of the women’s crew team’s future, the Bulldogs have a lot to look forward to.

In the 30-boat race, composed of all freshman teams, Yale’s first boat placed sixth in the women’s eight with a time of 16:37.98 — the Elis’ best finish at the Belly since 2000. That year’s novices, who graduated in 2004, went on to finish second at the NCAA Championships last year.

“The early, and I mean early indication is that this year’s novice team is right on track for success,” Yale head coach William Porter said.

Ivy League teams recorded the top six times Sunday. Princeton’s first boat won the race with a time of 16:04.43. The Tigers second boat came in third. Columbia, Cornell and Pennsylvania took second, fourth and fifth, respectively.

The Bulldogs’ second boat clocked in at 17:02.22 to claim 11th place.

The Belly, Yale’s last competition this fall, offers an opportunity for freshmen to compete against other beginners, Catherine Reibel ’08 said.

“The Belly of the Carnegie is a pretty unique race,” Reibel said. “Boats are comprised of freshman recruits as well as freshman walk-ons, many of whom have only rowed for about two months. It gives the walk-ons a chance to see what collegiate racing is really like.”

Although the freshmen have rowed in only a few races, they have been impressive nonetheless, Charlotte Taft ’05 said.

“We’re very proud of how the freshmen have done so far this year and they say nothing but good things about the future of the program,” Taft said. “This year we’ve emphasized integration of the freshman recruits and walk-ons, mostly because we have a pretty talented walk-on class, which is able to keep up with the high workload.”

Porter added that the energy and talent of the freshman class has enhanced the team’s dynamics.

“This is a great young group, unique in the fact that we have some good, spirited walk-on athletes that we have not had in the recent past,” Porter said. “The novice team seems to have chemistry which makes the work fun.”

With the fall season complete, the Bulldogs now move indoors to train for the winter until their next competition in March 2005 against Penn and Columbia. Porter said the Elis will work on their rowing skills and fitness level during the off-season.

“If they decide to train hard and make the commitment, they will have a chance to be successful this spring,” Porter said. “That is all we can ask for, just give us a chance.”