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Oak Ridge Recap 2009



Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Friends,


We're just back from a great Spring Break training trip to Oak Ridge, where 17 practices over nine days of rowing gave us as much water time as three weeks of term-time practice here in Hanover. THANK YOU, as always, for making that trip happen.


A digital camera v. truck encounter (the truck won) destroyed our photographic record of the trip, but hopefully the thousand or so words of trip recaps and spring previews below are worth a few pictures.


HEAVYWEIGHTS


Selection dominates the heavyweight March Madness in Oak Ridge, and after a few acclimation rows, the guys began butting heads in fours with seats on the line. This squad has more internal competition than any other squad during my time here, and the racing reflected that. We had a few dead even pieces and several more stroke-for-stroke battles with margins between men too close to call conclusive. 


We moved into eights halfway through the camp to see what different combinations could produce, testing them against a strong freshman squad that will keep the varsity honest all season. The camp also marked the exciting debuts of the Scott A. Armstrong Empacher and the Richard W. Grossman Resolute eights. The varsity will row the Armstrong, with the faster of the second varsity and frosh earning the Grossman. 


Six of the nine return from the crew that overperformed at the 2008 IRA return, plus several strong sophomores and two 2007 letter winners who missed all of last spring. The returning talent, the new talent, and the improvement of every man has created a logjam near the top that I hinted at above. Sorting that out will make the entire squad faster.


Competition defines the season away from the Connecticut, too: The team will face more dual-race opponents than any other men's crew in the country, with Holy Cross, Trinity, and George Washington adding to our traditional schedule of five cup races including defending champions Wisconsin, Brown (which had 15 rowers sub 6:10 this winter), Boston University with its new coach and two returning Olympians, the traditionally tough Yale, an emerging Syracuse crew, and Rutgers and MIT. We have our work cut out for us, but if the crews overperform like they did at the end of last spring, this could be an exciting season.-Heavyweight Head Coach Topher Bordeau


The heavyweights race Holy Cross at 12pm this Sunday (April 5) on Worcester's Lake Quinsigamond.



WOMEN


What a difference a week makes! We left Hanover 90 days after our last practice in Austin, and just 17 days before our first race.  Our goals for Oak Ridge were simple: 1) shed the winter rust, 2) run effective selection in fours and then eights, and 3) get race-ready.  There's always a great sense of urgency once we hit the water; we dove into seat racing on our second day.  Effective winter training enabled us to endure a grueling practice schedule while staying healthy and making quick progress.  By the end of the week we raced a full 2k, boated up.  Add all that to returning home to open water in Hanover!  Spring Break in Oak Ridge took us from feeling at a distinct disadvantage to eagerly anticipating our first race.  


This year's varsity eight is a young crew.  The crew consists of four sophomores and just three returners from the 2008 1V.  Emily Dreissigacker '11 will stroke the boat again this year.  With a full year's experience in that seat, she now leads the crew with more confidence and determination.  Honestly, we are not sure what to expect this season.  In the past the team has spent too much energy obsessing over rankings and other race results. A new season requires a fresh approach. This year we'll focus internally.  We need to learn more about our own strengths and weaknesses.  We plan to take it one week at a time, preparing for the race immediately ahead: a deceptively simple task given that the varsity still feels the sting of failing to qualify for NCAAs last year.-Women's Head Coach Wendy Levash


The women race Northeastern and Boston College at 10am this Saturday (April 4) from 7-9am.


LIGHTWEIGHTS


Our 2008-09 squad did well over winter training, 90% achieved personal bests for their 2000m erg scores.  I'm most excited about the level of commitment, persistence and awareness the team developed over the term.  We began the fall identifying the numerous steps we needed to take for a successful spring.   This winter the lights executed a majority of those steps.  All understand how

pivotal a successful Spring Break trip will be to our realizing how fast we can go this spring and were excited to get started.


Soon after arriving in Oak Ridge we faced off with Navy, also training in Tennessee, in a scrimmage consisting of 4' and 2' pieces.  Although we had been on the water for 48 hours Dartmouth lined up and raced respectfully. The Midshipmen won the day; however our frosh lights were able to upend the Navy

Plebes for a majority of their pieces.   At the end of the practice the team was excited to see how fast they need to be to be competitive with a faster early season crew and felt this was something they could achieve.


The scrimmage set a focused tone that benefited our remaining 8 days of training.  By weeks end the rowing greatly improved and tenacity of every stroke was lethal.   Returning to open water in Hanover will let the squad hit the ground running in preparation for our first race on April 4th versus Delaware.


The lightweights race Delaware at 10am this Saturday (April 4) on Worcester's Lake Quinsigamond.


Finally, some sad news greeted the program shortly after its return to Hanover. Longtime supported of Dartmouth Athletics Dartmouth Rowing Dick Dunham '53 passed away on Monday, March 30th. He will be missed.


Best,


Topher, Wendy, and Steve



REMINDER: Don't miss this year's Gardner Cup festivities! The finals of the Class Day Regatta will be held on the afternoon of Saturday, September 26th, with a Friends of Dartmouth Rowing meeting and the annual dinner to follow on Saturday evening. The first annual event was a huge success with almost 200 people packing the boathouse-we hope to see you a the second edition.

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