Courtesy of Ron Laurence

Yale women’s crew dominated the field at the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational over spring break, as the Bulldogs snagged a total of 13 wins over a two-day period.

The Elis, ranked seventh in the nation heading into the competition, racked up five wins against Tennessee and Clemson in the first round of Saturday’s races. They then challenged Alabama and then-No. 5 Virginia later on that afternoon, snatching three victories. Sunday saw the Bulldogs race then-No. 20 Minnesota and then-No. 15 Wisconsin at the Melton Lake Rowing Venue in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and claim five more wins.

“Our expectations are to compete in every contest we are in,” Yale women’s crew head coach Will Porter said. “This team likes to compete. It is refreshing to be around them.”

After finishing last season ranked eighth in the nation, the Yale women’s crew team has only continued to improve. The Elis’ preseason ranking of seventh in the nation appears to have undersold their abilities, as the Bulldogs obliterated their opponents in the first matchup of the weekend.

In all five of their inaugural matchups against Tennessee and Clemson, the Bulldogs bested their opposition by at least eight seconds in each run, and the third varsity eight won its contest by a huge margin of 15.746 seconds. Tennessee and Clemson alternated taking second and third place in each fixture, with the Volunteers taking second in the second varsity eight, third varsity eight and second varsity four and the Tigers snatching second in the varsity eight and varsity four.

The Bulldogs then turned their focus to Alabama and Virginia. Virginia came into the weekend highly touted, but both Yale’s varsity eight and four squads, as well as the second varsity four unit, outdid the Cavaliers. While Virginia was able to lead in the second varsity eight and third varsity eight, the Elis claimed three of the five total races in the match. Alabama took a distant third place behind the two top-ten combatants in all of the contests other than the second varsity four. Yale boasted an average margin of victory of 3.476 seconds over second place, while Virginia maintained only a 2.862 average margin of victory in the matchups it won.

Sunday morning saw Yale tighten its control on the water. The Bulldogs pulled off the sweep, winning all five of their contests against a pair of top-twenty ranked foes in Minnesota and Wisconsin. While the Sunday morning matches were much closer than Saturday’s, Yale only had one margin of victory that was less than a second. The varsity eight’s matchup was hotly contested, but the Elis managed to secure a victory by just .895 seconds over the Badgers. Nevertheless, the Yale women’s varsity eight, varsity four and second varsity four units all posted 3–0 records on the weekend, and the five crews totaled a 13–2 record.

“Our senior class is small and this is a very young group but that does not mean the expectations are any lower,” Porter said. “I expect there will be plenty of learning on the race course this season and like every other team before them, they will either rise to the challenge or falter. There is no hiding in racing.”

Pollsters across the country noticed Yale’s success. The Elis have moved up two places and are now tied with Ohio State for fifth place in the national rankings. The Buckeyes finished one spot above the Elis at the end of last season.

Yale women’s crew takes on Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana in the Ivy-Big Ten dual meet in Bellville, Michigan, this Saturday.

Bentley Long | bentley.long@yale.edu