April 29, 2004
Baltimore, Md. - Loyola's women's Varsity Eight is one of three crew programs recognized by the ECAC this week after its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship performance over the weekend. Rhode Island and Cornell join the Greyhounds as this week's ECAC Crews of the Week.
Loyola's Varsity Eight boat wins ECAC National Invitational Championships Crew of the Week for posting a dramatic victory over traditional MAAC power Marist, a victory that secured the conference championship. The Greyhounds last appeared in ECAC National Invitational competition in 2001, and has in the years since been working to get fast enough to return. The crew took a major step in the right direction over the weekend with a dramatic victory over the Red Foxes.
Marist entered the competition having won four of the last five MAAC titles, not to mention all but one of the women's Varsity Eight races since 1999. In the days leading up to the conference championships, Loyola crews made several adjustments to improve their chances, including moving team captain Kate Lally to the stroke seat in the Varsity Eight and, in the process, switching the boat to a starboard stroked boat.
For much of the day at the conference championships, the regatta points lead see-sawed between Loyola and Marist. Unable to field a JV8, Loyola was doubling and even tripling rowers into races in a desperate attempt to stay competitive with deeper squads. The difference between Loyola and Marist was only 2.5 points heading into the last race of the day, the Women's Varsity Eight. Two of Loyola's lightweight women, fresh off a victory in the Lightweight Varsity Four, had to be hot-seated into the Varsity Eight; two other women had raced twice already during the day. The four remaining rowers had raced at least once within the previous two hours in small boat categories. A gutsy effort would be required if the Loyola women were to pull off the upset.
Loyola got off to a great start, but trailed Marist slightly at 1,000 meters. Racing at 33-33.5 s.p.m., they were being slightly over-stroked. Loyola's stroke, Kate Lally, raised the rate for a twenty at the midpoint and Loyola managed to take a small lead. The crews battled without any large gains to either crew to the 1,400-meter mark. Then Loyola started to take very small gains each stroke heading into the final sprint. Over the last 300 meters of the race, Loyola built on its lead, refusing to give up an inch and in fact taking more inches with each stroke.
As the boats crossed the line, the crew of Jenny Sohn '06, Colleen Johnson '06, Steffie Chizik '04, Katya Krieger-Redwood '07, Courtney Toms '06, Steph Maloney '06, Suzanne Veilleux '04, Kate Lally '04, and Kristin Sargent-Gorman '06 knew it had just won Loyola's first-ever conference title. After the race, the Loyola coaches agreed that it was the best rowing put out by a Loyola women's Varsity Eight in the last five years.