Conroy, Mitchell-Sparke earn “Fish Head” in final fall meet

Members of the Women's Crew team that participated in the Head of the Fish regatta pose for a picture after the races on Oct. 29. (Courtesy Rachel Schlosser)

Women’s crew traveled to Saratoga Springs, N.Y. this weekend for its final regatta of the fall season, the Head of the Fish. The regatta gave the team an opportunity to work on its sculling, and to race in doubles and quads with different arrangements.

“This race was a great way to end the season,” sophomore Nat Lowenstein, who rowed in the Tufts B quad this weekend, said. “Because we were not in eights, we got the chance to scull in different combinations of people that we may not always get to row with.”

The Jumbos captured victories in many of the races at the Head of the Fish and ended the season strong with numerous additions to their medal collection from this fall.

“Our goal was to leave it all out on the water and get excited for winter training,” Lowenstein said. “Since we came away with a few wins and placed in other events, I think our team was proud of how we did.”

Six rowers represented Tufts in the Women’s Collegiate Singles Division. Tufts’ top finisher was junior Sera Busse, who placed 7th with a time of 17:54. She was a minute and a half behind the winner of the event from Western Rowing Club, who finished in 16:28. Other Jumbo single scullers included sophomore Libby Lichter, senior tri-captain Hayley Cohen, sophmore Erika Madrian and juniors Suruchi Devanahalli and Arielle Mann.

One of the strongest performances of the weekend for the Jumbos came from the Women’s Collegiate Double Division. Tufts won this event last year and came in determined to defend its title. The duo of junior tri-captain Emma Conroy and first-year Emma Mitchell-Sparke occupied Tufts’ “A” double and won the event in 15:18, ten seconds ahead of the second place team from UMass Amherst.

Because the Jumbos spend much of practice in their usual varsity eight-seater boats, doubles present a problem with steering and balance of the boat. This, combined with the especially difficult weather, made capturing first place no easy task for Conroy and Mitchell-Sparke.

“I like competing in doubles and quads because it’s more technical and individual, but also more stressful because bad weather causes more trouble in smaller boats, and I bowed our double so I had to row and steer at the same time,” Conroy said.

The Tufts “B” double, which featured sophomore Bibi Lichauco and senior tri-captain Natalia Kastenberg, came in fourth place with a time of 16:45, just outside of a medal finish.

The C and D doubles included three first-years and one sophomore and finished tenth and seventh, respectively. Tufts’ younger talent has been important to the team all season and looks poised to make a strong impact this spring, Conroy said.

“[This race] showed [the first-years] what they’re capable of for the spring, and they’ll help make the varsity teams stronger next year,” Conroy said.

The varsity team also took on the Quad division before handing it over to the novice team for the eights. The Jumbos had three entries into this division that only featured six boats total.

The “A” quad was made up of Mitchell-Sparke, Conroy, Busse and Lichter, and their time of 12:41 was good for a third place finish.

Lowenstein and the “B” quad finished just behind the “A” quad in fourth place with a time of 13:38. Lowenstein was joined in the boat by Mann, sophomore Miranda Finestone and Cohen.

“What I really like about quads is that there are 8 blades entering the water, the same as in an eight, but there are only four rowers, so essentially [it] could be similar to a lighter eight,” Lowenstein said. “Our boat was moving together and smoothly, and I am pleased with how we did.”

The women’s novice team filled both of Tufts’ entries in the eights division, where Tufts grabbed another victory in the 30-boat field. The A boat beat out competitors Williams and William Smith College by three seconds and nine seconds respectively.

“Our ‘A’ boat consisted of recruits and experienced walk-ons, some of whom competed in the Head of the Charles, and [they] came in first,” Lowenstein said. “For the rowers in our novice ‘B’ boat this was their first race ever. They have all walked on this year and have all just started rowing but still came in 13th out of 30 entries.”

High finishes like these display the promise of the new class of first-year rowers, and the team can look forward to contributions from them in the spring season and beyond.

The Jumbos are coming off of a very successful fall and an especially successful final regatta, but their attitude remains focused and driven heading into the winter.

“I think how our spring goes depends heavily on how effectively we train this winter, but we have a lot of potential and I’m already very excited for spring racing,” Conroy said.

The team now turns its attention to the off-season and preparing for the competitive spring.

“We had a strong spring season last year, but with a strong [first-year] class, an overall young team, and strong leadership from our three captains, there is a new fire under us going into winter training,” Lowenstein said.