May 24, 2007
CHERRY HILL, N.J. - MIT's openweight crew program continued a strong progression that began at the beginning of the year and ended with arguably the team's best finish at the Eastern Athletic Women's Rowing Conference (EAWRC) Sprints since the Engineers re-classified to Division I.
At the start of the year, head coach Alison Derrick noted that retention would be key to building up the MIT women's openweight rowing program. In 2006, the Engineers only boated five varsity athletes at the EAWRC Sprints from which only two rowers were eligible to return. This year fielding both a varsity eight and a four at this year's Sprints was a great accomplishment.
"I wonder if some river goddess was looking out for me this year," said Derrick, "because I know that it is virtually unheard of when every eligible novice rower not only returns for the fall but competes for an entire year."
The end result has been a very determined group of young women who see themselves as pivotal to building a bigger and faster program. The performance of the first varsity eight at this year's Sprints indicate that their determination is starting to pay off.
Since the Spring of 2000, the closest finishing margin of MIT women's first varsity eight in relation to the rest of the EAWRC field was 12 seconds. This year, the Engineer's varsity eight battled Georgetown all of the way down the course, crossing the finish line a mere 1.7 seconds behind the Hoyas. Although the crew was disappointed with the results, the team was very happy with its race.
Senior Samantha Polak noted that for the first time in her rowing career at MIT the varsity boat was up with the competition.
"It was amazing," said Polak, "I could hear the other coxswain all the way down the course and I knew we could take them . . . we just needed about another 100 meters of water."