CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The Radcliffe heavyweight crew looks to return to the medal dock and enhance its chance at an NCAA bid Sunday at the Eastern Association of Women's Rowing Colleges Championships on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J. Racing begins at 8 a.m., with the heavyweight varsity eight grand final at 4:45 p.m.
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Coach O'Leary's Comments
"We know full well that both the heats and the finals will provide tight racing with big things at stake. That's why we're going; that's what we're looking forward to." – head coach Liz O'Leary at Wednesday's Sprints luncheon
The Radcliffe heavyweights are seeking a trip to Sacramento, Calif., for their 13th appearance in the 15-year history of the NCAA Championships. The NCAA will invite 16 full teams (with no at-large varsity eights) to the regatta, which will be held May 27-29 on Lake Natoma. EAWRC crews earned three NCAA bids last season. Radcliffe last qualified in 2009, placing 14th in the team competition and 13th in the varsity eight.
Two Radcliffe heavyweight boats reached the grand finals of their events, and the other three put together strong performances in their petite finals at the 2010 EAWRC Sprints. After finishing third in its heat, the varsity eight won the petite final, avenging dual-season losses to Columbia and Northeastern in the process.
The second varsity placed second in its heat and hung with the leaders for half of the grand final before placing fifth. The varsity four also finished fifth, about 1.5 seconds out of the medals. The varsity four B and third varsity eight each placed second in their respective petite finals.
Records and Rankings
The Radcliffe heavyweight varsity eight (11-4), which last medaled with a runner-up Sprints finish in 2009, is seeded third this season after defeating its final eight dual opponents. The second varsity owns a 10-5 record and the No. 4 seed in the East.
The varsity four (5-9) is seeded seventh following a big win in the Beanpot regatta. The varsity four B (1-2) is also seeded seventh, and the third varsity eight (3-7) is ranked eighth in the EAWRC.
Dual Season Recap
The Black and White did not achieve all the results it would have liked early on in its tough‑as-usual spring schedule but the team's hard work and speed showed over the final three weekends of the dual season.
Radcliffe started out with lopsided varsity and second varsity wins against visiting Tulsa. Poor conditions on the Charles River forced the relocation of the following week's matchup with No. 5 Brown to Providence, R.I. The Black and White varsity showed that they would be tough to beat in Ivy competition, but the Bears hung on to win by 2.43 seconds. Another challenge awaited in the Class of 1975 Cup regatta against top‑ranked Princeton and No. 13 Cornell, and the highlight for Radcliffe was a runner-up finish for the second varsity. The varsity placed third, two seconds behind the Big Red.
Radcliffe's most impressive performance of the dual campaign may have come in a second‑place finish. Racing Dartmouth and Syracuse for the O'Leary Cup along with guest Minnesota, the Black and White led by six seats before twice being sent to fourth place by boat-stopping crabs and twice rallying back to second place. The breakthrough win would come a day later, when Radcliffe capped the Charles River Challenge by getting revenge on the Big Green and also beating No. 10 Ohio State and Northeastern, finishing 2.4 seconds clear of the field. Radcliffe placed second in seven of the weekend's other eight races.
The Black and White claimed its first trophy of the year and its first win against rival Yale in eight seasons with its three-second victory against the defending NCAA varsity eight champion for the Case Cup April 23. Radcliffe capped its dual campaign in authoritative fashion the following week, with varsity eight, second varsity and varsity four wins in the Beanpot against local rivals Boston College, Boston University, MIT and Northeastern. The Radcliffe varsity finished 8.1 seconds ahead of second-place Northeastern. The four topped NU by 9.3 seconds to avenge an earlier loss and help Radcliffe win its fifth straight Beanpot team title.
Radcliffe Heavyweight Sprints Titles
The Black and White won the 2003 EAWRC Sprints team title on the way to the NCAA national championship. The heavyweight varsity eight has won five Sprints titles in program history: 1974 (recognized as the first Ivy League title event for women), '75, '87, '89 and 2003. The second varsity eight won titles in 1975, '76 and '92, while the varsity four won in 1994. The novice eight won in 1989 and '97, and the second novices won in 1993, '94, '97 and 2009.
The Willing Trophy is presented to the team that has the best results in the three NCAA-level events and thus scores the most points. The Radcliffe heavyweights captured the title for the first time in 2003. The winner of the varsity eight race is presented with the Nathaniel Case Trophy.
The top Ivy League finisher will win the Ivy championship and the accompanying Sally P. Shoemaker Trophy. Radcliffe has won five Ivy League titles, the same five years it won the Sprints varsity title. Ivy teams have won the varsity eight race in all but five years since 1974. The top seven and eight of the top nine finishers last season were Ivy crews.
Heavyweight Coaching Staff
Liz O'Leary, the 2009 New England Regional Coach of the Year, is in her 25th season leading the Radcliffe heavyweight crew. The 1976 New Hampshire graduate has directed the Black and White's varsity eight to three Eastern Sprints titles (1987, 1989 and 2003), one second varsity crown (1992) and the 1994 varsity four title. She guided the Black and White to the 2003 NCAA championship, and her 1989 varsity crew won the Women's Henley Regatta title. She has a 174-84 dual race record.
Assistant coach Cory Bosworth (California '99) directs the varsity four and is in her ninth year with the Black and White. Second-year coaching assistant Wendy Wilbur (Massachusetts '95) leads the third varsity eight.
Olivia Coffey (Watkins Glen, N.Y.) and Rachel Rauh (Andover, Mass.), former teammates at Phillips Academy Andover, captain the Black and White heavyweight squad. Coffey strokes the varsity eight and is in her fourth year in Radcliffe's top boat. She helped the U.S. women's eight capture the gold medal at the 2010 World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Belarus. Rauh has coxed the second varsity eight all season after splitting time between that boat and the varsity four the previous two years.
The Varsity Eight
Olivia Coffey is in her fourth season in the Radcliffe varsity eight and is the boat's lone senior. Only Coffey and junior coxswain Jill Carlson (Weston, Mass.) remain from the varsity that claimed Sprints silver in 2009. Three other rowers return from last year's varsity eight: junior Liz Soutter (Toronto, Ont.) and sophomores Mary Maginnis (Maple Glen, Pa.) and Michelle Pearson (Pembroke, Bermuda).
Celia Kohl (Wilton, Conn.) and Jessica Mealia (Toronto, Ont.) rowed in the second varsity eight at last season's Sprints, while fellow sophomore Scout Moran (San Rafael, Calif.) was a part of the varsity four. Katie Wilcox (Winnetka, Ill.) is the Black and White varsity eight's only freshman.