Everything thus far has been in preparation for one weekend. And that weekend is finally here. The Stanford women’s lightweight crew left early Sunday morning for West Windsor, New Jersey, for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championship Regatta, considered to be the collegiate national championship for rowing.
By Sunday, the lightweights will know whether the five consecutive first-place finishes that they have earned thus far, including top finishes at the PCRC Championships, Big Row and WIRA Championship Regatta, truly indicate their dominance on the water.
“That’s one of the best and worst things about being on this team — we’ve been the national champions for four years now and so there’s a lot of high expectations and all year we are working to meet and exceed those expectations as much as possible,” said sophomore Katherine Christel.
Stanford will be one of nine lightweight varsity eights competing for the IRA title and, most importantly, will be seeking its fifth consecutive national championship. Stanford will also be fielding its varsity four, which competed for the first time this year at the PCRC Championships and finished second in the open field.
The team had three hard workouts before heading east and has been tapering since then, getting mentally prepared for competition and easing up on rigorous workouts in order to be rested for the first two races on Saturday. The Card have had light training sessions at Princeton all week and will continue to adjust to the humidity — and the havoc it wreaks on their calloused hands — and the water conditions of the East Coast.
The Stanford varsity eight lightweights will be joined by a field including Boston University, Bucknell, Georgetown, MIT, Princeton, Harvard-Radcliffe, Tulsa and Wisconsin. Last year, Stanford beat Harvard-Radcliffe by open water, coming in four seconds ahead. Although Stanford remains the heavy favorite, Harvard-Radcliffe will again be one of Stanford’s top competitors this year.
The first two heats of competition for both the varsity eight and varsity four will be held on Saturday with the Grand Finals on Sunday.
Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu.