The No. 4 Radcliffe varsity eight looks to finish better than its seed for a second straight year (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).
The Radcliffe lightweight crew seeks its first national medals since 2006 when it competes at the 108th Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships Friday and Saturday on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J.
There is no women's crew action Thursday, the opening day of the IRA Regatta. The women's lightweight varsity eight heats are Friday at 8:30 a.m., followed by the varsity four heats at 9. Radcliffe races in the first heat of each event.
The top two finishers in each heat advance to Saturday's grand finals, as do the top two in the Friday afternoon repechages. The varsity four grand final is at 8:24 a.m. Saturday, with the varsity eight grand final at 11:15.
Cox: Jana Douglas, 8: Marissa Reichel, 7: Natalie Wong, 6: Lizzy Bates, 5: Kelly McCarthy, 4: Emma Lukasiewicz, 3: Elizabeth Hamilton, 2: Erika McCormick, 1: Amanda Pfabe
Records and Rankings
The Radcliffe lightweight varsity eight is ranked fourth in the latest USRowing Collegiate Poll. The Black and White posted a 4-3 dual record.
EAWRC Sprints Recap
The Radcliffe lightweight varsity eight earned its first Eastern Association of Women's Rowing Colleges Sprints medal in four years with a third-place showing May 16 on the Cooper River, highlighting a strong team performance in which each of the other three Black and White entries placed second.
All 32 of Radcliffe's competing lightweight athletes earned medals, led by the varsity eight, which had placed fourth in each of the previous three seasons. The Black and White varsity topped No. 5 Georgetown by more than two seconds in 6:46.646. Radcliffe finished three seconds behind No. 3 Princeton and less than eight back of top-ranked Wisconsin.
The second varsity eight finished less than six seconds behind Wisconsin. The varsity four trailed only Princeton, which did not enter a second varsity eight, finishing about three seconds behind. The novice eight finished between Wisconsin and Princeton in a three???team field.
Dual Season Recap
The Black and White varsity and second varsity eights opened the season by finishing ahead of the visiting Buffalo varsity. A week later, Radcliffe's top two boats posted separate wins against Georgetown, with the varsity winning by 4.3 seconds and the second varsity beating the Hoyas by nearly 11 seconds.
Radcliffe suffered its first varsity loss at the hands of Stanford but bounced back with a stronger performance at week later at Princeton. The Black and White lost a back-and-forth battle with the Tigers by 2.3 seconds but finished 14 seconds ahead of Bucknell. Meanwhile, the second varsity eight posted a 7.5-second win against Stanford and the novice eight dominated Princeton by 34.3 seconds.
Radcliffe closed the season by defeating Cambridge neighbor MIT to take the Muri Cup for the second straight year, while visiting, top???ranked Wisconsin placed ahead of the Black and White and Engineers. The second varsity eight results mirrored those from the varsity race. In the varsity fours race, Radcliffe entries placed second and third.
The Radcliffe varsity eight finished fourth in the grand final of the 107th IRA Regatta on Lake Natoma in Sacramento. Calif.
The Black and White was fourth throughout, surging late in an effort to catch Bucknell and Stanford, but the Bison held off Radcliffe while passing the Cardinal for second place. Wisconsin won its fifth national championship in the last six years. Radcliffe finished one position ahead of its No. 5 ranking.
Radcliffe fell nearly six seconds behind the medalists with 500 meters to go, but only Wisconsin was faster in the final 500, as the Black and White clocked a split of 1:45.20 for a final time of 7:10.20. Radcliffe was 5.7 seconds faster than Stanford in the last 500, but the Cardinal had built up enough of a cushion to hold on by more than two seconds.
Radcliffe came from behind in the final 250 meters of its heat to advance directly to the grand final, passing No. 4 Georgetown to finish second by three seats.
The Black and White has won five national championships, most recently in 1997, the last of three straight titles and the first determined at the IRA Regatta. Radcliffe won National Collegiate Rowing Championships crowns in 1991, 1993, 1995 and 1996 in Cincinnati.
The varsity eight has medaled in eight of its 13 IRA appearances. In only one of those years (2000) did the Black and White miss the grand final. Radcliffe has placed fourth or better in two of the last three seasons, seven of the last eight seasons and 11 of its 13 overall appearances.
Head coach Heather Cartwright is in her second year guiding the Black and White lightweights, having led Radcliffe to fourth???place Sprints and IRA finishes last season. Before arriving at Radcliffe, she coached the Boston University heavyweight varsity four to a silver medal at the 2006 Sprints and two years earlier guided the Princeton second varsity eight to a bronze medal. She came to Radcliffe with 15 years of coaching experience, on the high-school, club, collegiate, provincial and national???team levels.
Former Radcliffe heavyweight captain Carrie Morelock '07 is in her second season assisting Cartwright and coaching the lightweight novices.
Seniors Grace Hollowell (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and Amanda Pfabe (Las Vegas, Nev.) are the captains of the Radcliffe lightweight crew. Pfabe occupies the bow seat in the varsity eight. She debuted in the Black and White's top boat at the 2007 IRA Regatta and has remained there since. Hollowell jumped from the novice eight to the varsity four for the 2007 IRA Regatta and has spent time in the varsity and second varsities since.
The Varsity Eight
Amanda Pfabe and juniors Lizzy Bates (Tenants Harbor, Maine) and Natalie Wong (Mill Valley, Calif.) are racing in the varsity eight for the third straight IRA Regatta, while coxswain Jana Douglas (Belle Mead, N.J.) and fellow sophomore Marissa Reichel (Weston, Mass.) are in their second season in the varsity eight. That experienced group is joined by sophomore Kelly McCarthy (Los Gatos, Calif.) and rookies Elizabeth Hamilton (Newton, Mass.), Emma Lukasiewicz (Toronto, Ont.) and Erika McCormick (Lower Gwnedd, Pa.).
The [New] Varsity Four
The members of this weekend's varsity four were previously part of the second varsity eight. Grace Hollowell and junior Wynne Evans (Greenwich, Conn.) competed in last year's IRA Regatta as members of the varsity eight, the second year of IRA experience for each of them. Sophomore coxswain Maryana Vrubel (Millbury, Mass.) and freshmen Veronique Irwin (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Charlotte Lane (Buffalo, N.Y.) are IRA rookies.
A Family Tradition
The last time Radcliffe won an IRA medal, in 2006, Sarah Bates '06, the older sister of Lizzy Bates, was the stroke of the varsity eight and the team captain.
Something in the [Charles River] Water?
Harvard and Radcliffe crews have combined to win 23 official national championships. The Crimson men's heavyweights have nine official national championships, including the three of the last six, and eight additional unofficial titles. The Harvard lightweights have won seven titles, and the Radcliffe heavyweights have earned two.