The Tufts women’s crew team’s spring season contained many ups and downs, but overall, the team displayed strong energy and a will to compete. Throughout a hectic regular season in April and May’s postseason regattas, the Jumbos produced excellent results on the water.
The first and second varsity eights turned in the team’s best showings at the National Invitational Rowing Championships on May 11, placing fifth in their respective grand finals. The Jumbos’ first boat navigated the 2,ooo-meter course in a time of 6:35, while their second boat posted a mark of 6:54.46. Overall, the team finished third of 22 teams with 188 points, just nine behind second-place Ithaca.
In its opening competition on April 7, Tufts hosted Trinity, Middlebury and Coast Guard on the Malden River. The team’s first varsity eight fell by just 4.58 seconds in a tight semifinal matchup with Middlebury, but the top boat — headed by rising junior coxswain Jill Armenia — recovered quickly to defeat Coast Guard by over 10 seconds for third place.
However, the big winner of the regatta was Tufts’ second varsity eight, led by graduating senior coxswain Annelise Ryan, which blew past Trinity and Coast Guard for a first-place finish. The Jumbos crossed the finish line a full 1:12 before the Bears in the final.
Tufts returned to the Malden River the very next day for a competition against Amherst and Smith. The Jumbos swept the day, winning all five of their races. The first varsity eight, led by Ryan, edged out Smith in its first race before finishing off the day with a 33-second win against Amherst.
The Jumbos’ impressive start to the season, as well as their progression as a team, can be largely due to its mental prowess.
“I would say that there’s definitely been some attitude changes,” Armenia said. “People are more motivated to do work outside of practice to improve themselves and make the team better as a whole, instead of just coming to practice and doing what the coach says. There’s been a lot more initiative.”
First-year Eden Miller has also noticed the changes, noting the team’s effort throughout the year.
“In the spring season especially, we’ve really come together as a team community, and that’s shown in our races,” Miller said. “There’s been a really nice sense of camaraderie — it feels like a victory on one boat is a victory for the whole team.”
On April 14, Tufts hosted the then-top two women’s crew teams in Div. III, Bates and Wesleyan, along with Wellesley. While the Jumbos were competitive throughout the day, they were unable to pick up any victories, though they often finished within seconds of their opponents. Despite the losses, the team was encouraged by their performance and looked forward to improving by May.
“It’s less about winning a specific race and more about how the race felt,” Miller said. “If we win but we didn’t have a great race, I don’t think it’s as satisfying as getting out of the water and feeling like we did our absolute best, even if it just didn’t happen for us.”
Tufts traveled for the first time all season on April 22, visiting WPI on Lake Quinsigamond. The Jumbos’ first and second varsity eights suffered heartbreaking losses, both finishing less than two seconds behind the Engineers. The team bounced back with a win over WPI in the third varsity eight.
The Jumbos kicked off their postseason on May 5 at the New England Rowing Championships, where all three boats reached the grand finals. The first and third boats ultimately registered sixth-place finishes, while the second boat finished fourth.
“It’s nice to win against teams we know we can beat,” Armenia said after the regional regatta. “But I would say that it’s a lot more satisfying to have weekends like this one, where we finish one second behind Wellesley, who finished 10 to 15 seconds faster than us three weeks ago. Things like that are a little bit more gratifying — seeing that improvement.”