The Ivy League-champion Radcliffe heavyweight crew seeks further success on a national stage at the 2012 NCAA Division I Rowing Championships this weekend on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J. The Black and White is making its 14th NCAA appearance in the 16‑year history of the event.
The Black and White kicks off the weekend with its varsity eight heat at 9 a.m. Friday. The top three finishers from each of the three heats will advance directly to Saturday's semifinals, while the rest of the field will return to the course Friday afternoon for the repechage. The top three repechage finishers will also move on to the semifinals. The second varsity eight and varsity four events will follow the same progression pattern.
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Live video of the racing is available here.
Ivy League Championship
Nearly four decades after winning the first Ivy League title event for women, the Radcliffe varsity eight started the newest Ancient Eight event—the inaugural Ivy League Championship May 13 on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J.—with another victory.
The Black and White varsity four A also won gold, giving Radcliffe victories in two of the three NCAA-level events. Radcliffe raced in all six of the day's grand finals and finished second to Princeton in the team competition that took into account the first, second and third varsity eight and varsity four A and B events. The second varsity finished fourth, missing a medal by less than a second.
Records and Rankings
Radcliffe, ranked seventh nationally, posted a 9-6 dual record, and the varsity eight avenged three of its dual losses by defeating Princeton, Brown and Yale in the Ivy League Championship grand final. The second varsity owns a 12-3 record, while the varsity four is 10-4 and defeated two teams in the Ivy grand final to which it had previously lost.
Back on Top
The Black and White's Ivy title is its first since 2003, when Radcliffe went on to win the NCAA varsity and team titles in Indianapolis.
Coach of the Year
Head coach Liz O'Leary has been named the 2012 CRCA New England Regional Coach of the Year. It is the second such honor in four years for O'Leary, now in her 26th season directing the Black and White. She was the CRCA National Coach of the Year in 2003.
Five members of the Radcliffe varsity eight have been selected to the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association New England All-Region teams. Courtney Diekema (Holland, Mich.), Michelle Pearson (Pembroke, Bermuda), Liz Soutter (Toronto, Ont.) and coxswain Jill Carlson (Newton, Mass.) were named to the CRCA New England All-Region first team, while Mary Maginnis (Maple Glen, Pa.) was selected to the second team.
With their Ivy Championship win, those athletes earned first-team All-Ivy League honors along with boatmates Lucy Grinalds (Southport, Conn.), Mimi Tanski (Lexington, Mass.), Jenna Gregoire (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Scout Moran (San Rafael, Calif.).
Hitting the Books
Twelve Radcliffe crew athletes, six heavyweights and six lightweights, have been named CRCA Scholar Athletes. The heavyweight honorees were: Jill Carlson, a classics concentrator, Kirsten Van Fossen (Moorestown, N.J.), engineering sciences; Scout Moran, government; Laura Savarese (New York, N.Y.), history; Deva Steketee (Orford, N.H.), Romance languages and literature, and Katie Wilcox (Winnetka, Ill.), history and science. To be chosen as a Scholar Athlete, one must be a sophomore, junior or senior in an NCAA-level boat with a grade-point average of 3.50 or greater.
Radcliffe is making its 13th team appearance and its 14th overall trip to the NCAA Championships. The Black and White varsity eight qualified for the inaugural NCAA regatta in 1997, and Radcliffe reached the national championships as a team in each of the next eight years before a one-year hiatus in 2006. The Black and White then made three straight appearances from 2007 to '09 and returned last year.
Radcliffe boats have advanced to eight NCAA grand finals. The Black and White pulled off the "triple grand" in its national-championship season of 2003, putting all three entries in the championship races for the first time. The varsity eight advanced to the grand final in 1999, 2003 and '05. The second varsity eight has made it once, in 2003. The varsity four has qualified for the grand final on four occasions. In 1998 and '99, the boat took fifth (at the time the highest NCAA finish of any Radcliffe boat). The four placed sixth in 2002 and '03.
The Trophy Case
So far this season, Radcliffe has won the Beanpot and Beanpot team banner (vs. Boston College, Boston University, MIT, Northeastern), Allen‑DeWolfe Trophy (vs. BU), Rowlands Cup (vs. Northeastern) and O'Leary Cup (vs. Dartmouth, Syracuse).
The Radcliffe heavyweight varsity eight won the third-level final at last season's NCAA Championships, good for 13th place overall and part of a 14th-place team finish on Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif.
The Black and White varsity finished two spots ahead of its seed with a wire-to-wire win in a time of 6:34.45 that would have been good for third place in the petite final. The other two Radcliffe boats matched their seeds. The varsity four placed second in its third-level final for 14th place overall, and the second varsity eight placed third for 16th place. The Ivy League proved itself as the top conference in the country, with Brown winning the NCAA team title and Princeton capturing the varsity eight championship.
Jill Carlson and Kirsten Van Fossen are Radcliffe's captains. Carlson has coxed the the Black and White varsity eight since her freshman season, while Van Fossen has raced in the second varsity eight and varsity four throughout her career.
Jill Carlson and Kirsten Van Fossen are both appearing in their third NCAA Championships. Sixteen of Radcliffe's 23 competing student-athletes also raced at last year's NCAA regatta.
The Varsity Eight
The Radcliffe varsity boat is steered by four-year varsity coxswain Jill Carlson, who has guided the Black and White to two NCAA third-level final wins. Four rowers return from last season's varsity. Senior Liz Soutter and juniors Mary Maginnis and Michelle Pearson are in the varsity for the third year, while junior Scout Moran is rowing in the varsity for the second straight season. New to the varsity eight are junior Courtney Diekema, sophomore Jenna Gregoire and a pair of freshmen, Lucy Grinalds and Mimi Tanski.
Double Duty, Double Titles
Radcliffe's Ivy title was its first in nine years, but it was three-seat Jenna Gregoire's second in less than three months. A freestyle sprinter, she helped the Harvard women's swimming and diving team win the Ivy title in February. Courtney Diekema also came to Harvard to play another sport but had her career with the Crimson women's soccer team cut short by injury.
Jill Carlson, Courtney Diekema and Jenna Gregoire were among 23 athletes accepted to the 2012 Women's Under 23 National Team Camp in Syracuse, N.Y., and Princeton, N.J., this summer. The camp will select the women's eight and the women's quad crews that will compete at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships July 11-15 in Trakai, Lithuania. Both Diekema and Gregoire began rowing during the 2010-11 school year.
Last summer, Lucy Grinalds captured a women's four gold medal at the 2011 World Rowing Junior Championships in Eton, England.
Same Result, Three Decades Apart
Just two years after starting its rowing program and 30 years before capturing the NCAA title, Radcliffe won the 1973 national championship. That crew went on to represent the United States at the World Championships in Moscow. Radcliffe regularly sent crews to the Cincinnati Regatta, which served as the national championship for women's crew prior to the advent of the NCAA Championships, and finished as high as second in 1990.