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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Women's crews head to Nationals

The good just keeps getting better for women's crew in the Great North Country.

Last weekend, the 11th-ranked women's varsity eight shocked the rowing community with a blow-your-mind bronze-medal finish at the EAWRC Sprints Championship Regatta.

But that was just a prelude to what's to come in the final stretch of the 1997 rowing season.

Now, they're headed West to go head-to-head with the best of the best at the inaugural NCAA National Women's Rowing Championships on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, California.

Two weeks ago, Head Coach Barbara Kirch was overheard telling her crews that they'd only get a bid to the NCAA Championships if hell froze over. Well, it must be pretty darn cold in hell these days.

"As much as our coach believes in us, a week ago she looked at the situation realistically and told us in a team meeting that Nationals had gone beyond the realm of a 'long shot,'" senior Ashley Graves said. "But 25 rowers are getting on a plane next Wednesday for California. When you go from 11th to 3rd in one day, you stop believing in limits."

"We blew everyone's doors off at Sprints," co-Captain Rosi Kerr '97 said. "We really shook things up. Now we get a chance to show that it wasn't a fluke."

Dartmouth is one of only eight Division I schools to earn a full team bid, thus allowing the Big Green to compete in all three categories -- first varsity eight, the second varsity eight and the varsity four.

"We would have been thrilled to have any boats invited to nationals, but to have the entire team invited is beyond fantastic," co-Captain Ingrid Brody '97 said. "Given that this is the first-ever NCAA women's rowing national championships, we are especially excited that Dartmouth will be represented in all the events."

The NCAA Regatta will give the Big Green a final chance to prove their worth -- something that the team struggled to do for most of the regular season. It's also an opportunity to stretch what has been an otherwise short rowing season.

"I'm looking forward to racing," Tracy Tylee '98 said. "This season has been pretty tough. We hadn't been rowing well until the two weeks before Sprints. And things have finally come together for us."

Sophomore Becky Frost has high hopes for her second varsity eight and thinks Dartmouth may have an advantage as the underdog.

"We have improved immensely since we raced with Princeton and Virginia, so while people are looking for other crews to set the pace, I think we can sneak in and surprise the competition," Frost said.

Ultimately, the Dartmouth crews won't put too much stress on winning the whole regatta. For them, the NCAA Championships will simply be an opportunity to test their mettle without worrying about the results.

"It will be tough, fast racing across the board in all the races," Frost said, "but I don't think we have the added stress of upholding past expectations, mostly in part because this is our first appearance in the national arena."

"Our primary goal is to just go and have a great time," Kirch said. "And I think if we can do that, the crews will go as fast as they're even going to go. But the most important this is that we have fun."