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The Dartmouth
June 19, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Women's rowing comes off successful weekend at Big Ten Invitational

Each of Dartmouth’s four boats improved its times over the course of the invitational, highlighted by a first-place finish for the second varsity on Saturday.

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Courtesy of Nancy LaRocque

The women’s rowing team had a successful showing at the Big Ten Invitational in Sarasota, Fla. last weekend. The regatta brought together all the teams in the Big Ten Conference as well as about ten other invited teams.

The Big Green fielded two eight-person boats and two fours, each of which raced three times over two days of competition and improved their finishes over the course of the three races. The weekend was highlighted by a win for the second varsity boat in their third race, edging out the University of Iowa by less than a second.

“The 2V race was really exciting to see,” head coach Nancy LaRocque said. “It was really fun to see them hold off these other schools from beginning to end. There was a big push with 200 meters to go and they held on. I was psyched to see them dig in and hold on and finish super strong.”

“Having that race be the winning race was really cool to see,” second varsity rower Jessie Duckworth ’23 said. “It showed that we made progress throughout those races and were able to push ourselves in a different way and see how much we could put ourselves out there.”

Duckworth noted that the victory was especially sweet in a race with such a high level of competition. 

“Winning that race was awesome, especially at a race like Big Tens, which is not our conference,” Duckworth said. “We don't race those teams typically. It was super intimidating at first. As an Ivy League program, we go in as underdogs.”

Even in such a strong field, the four Dartmouth boats rose to the occasion. They were racing programs historically competitive in the NCAA, some of which have previously been selected for the NCAA Championship.

“The whole trip overall was really good for us,” first varsity rower Allison Smith ’23 said. “It exposed us to a lot of higher level competition that we’re not usually around and I think being around that has pushed us to raise our standards of what we’re capable of.”

Smith remarked how exciting it is to be racing again, as racing is what rowers truly love about the sport itself, and many have not gotten to race in the spring since high school. The Big Ten Invitational provided an opportunity to show off on a big stage. 

“It was easy, with COVID-19, to lose sight of why we do this,” Smith said. “Going to such a big race helped me remember how fun [racing] can be. I can feel a palpable energy shift where everybody's super pumped and ready to get the work done. It's exciting.”

“They're rowing really well as a team right now,” LaRocque said. “It's exciting to see as a coach.”

This weekend, the team will head to Ithaca, N.Y. to compete against Cornell University and No. 5 ranked Brown University. 

“Our goal this weekend is to beat Cornell and get as close as possible to Brown,” LaRocque said. 

The remainder of the season will see the team compete in the Eastern Sprints competition and the Ivy League Championship.