Tufts rowing looks to build a strong foundation in fall season

08/04/2017 - Medford, MA - The Tufts women's crew team prepares to launch during a competition on April 8, 2017. (Roxanne Zhang / The Tufts Daily)

The ever-improving Tufts rowing program is gearing up for another fall season, featuring men’s and women’s teams with more collective talent and experience than many of the individual rowers have seen before.

Though the more important rowing season takes place in the spring, both teams know that the fall is important not only for rowers to work on their individual shape but also to build the team into a cohesive unit both on and off the water. Each fall brings a new class of first-years and novice rowers along with new captains and leadership, thereby giving the team a chance to establish a new identity and prepare the younger rowers.

“The identity that we have really developed is one of constant, steady work that will yield big benefits for us during the spring racing season. It has been excellent to see how dedicated the guys all are,” senior tri-captain Tyler Hagedorn said. “Walk into Gantcher at almost any hour during the day, and you will see at least a couple of guys training on the ergs.”

Echoing Hagedorn’s sentiment is sophomore Graham Forrester, who praised the new captains.

“The captains this year each have such distinct leadership styles that complement each other well,” Forrester said. “They have already been successful in establishing a culture of healthy competitiveness within the squad.”

The men’s team features mostly returning rowers, meaning that the identity of hard work built in recent seasons has continued into the 2017–18 campaign. There are only six recruited first-years this season.

“That means [that], just like last year, we are going to have a very strong freshman boat, which is the first example of how fast the program is becoming,” Hagedorn said.

In contrast, the women’s team has 13 new first-years. However, the large number of new faces has not stunted the growth of the team chemistry, according to senior tri-captain Emma Conroy.

“[The first-years] have come in with an energy that I think is invigorating for the entire team,” Conroy said. “Much of the fall season is about building a cohesive unit and getting in shape for a more intense spring season. This year, we’ve become more cohesive as a team more quickly than [we have] in the past, which will give us an advantage that will build through May 2.”

The women’s team is coming off a strong year in which senior Sera Busse was recognized as the team’s first ever First Team All-American. Busse was also one of three members of the team to make the All-NESCAC Conference team in 2017. Conroy and junior Libby Lichter rounded out the trio for the largest cohort from Tufts to be in the all-conference team in history.

The men’s and women’s teams have the Green Mountain Head Regatta this upcoming weekend in Putney, Vt., but both teams have remained focused on long, low intensity workouts. In particular, the men’s team has spent much of its time on the water in sculling single boats to improve technical rowing.

“[Men’s] coach Noel Wanner was a world class sculler,” junior tri-captain Isaac Mudge said. “[He] has preached this philosophy of becoming a more skilled rower through spending a lot of time alone in the boat, and the team has really bought into this.”

The men’s team also has many team-oriented races that it hopes to perform well in.

“We re-entered in the Hadley Chase, which is the first time we have raced in this regatta in my time with the program,” Hagedorn said. “We have an eight, a quad and a four entered in the Head of the Charles [Regatta].”

As for the women, their sights are set on performing well in the coming weeks in order to have a strong showing at the Head of the Charles on Oct. 22 and 23.

“Our ultimate goal is to medal in the eight,” Conroy said. “There are several underclassmen rising up to fill spots in the top eight that were opened by graduated seniors and juniors who are abroad. With them, we hope to do even better than our seventh-place finish last year.”