March 22, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -
The Navy women's rowing team opens the season this Saturday as it will travel to Philadelphia, Pa., for the 30th-annual Murphy Cup Regatta.
Navy returns six seniors from a team that captured the ECAC title last year and narrowly missed out on the Patriot League crown. While the seniors will undoubtedly play a large role in the team's success, it's the younger Mids that might help push the team over the top.
"We've got very strong leadership and it starts with our captain, Caitlin Schemenski," said 15th-year head coach Mike Hughes. "She's got a great ability to lead and her teammates all want to do what she says. She has a great leadership style."
Schemenski joins Sarah Brown, Shelby DeLaMora, Christina Lanouette, Mary Walsh, and Codie Younger as seniors on this year's team.
Walsh, Lanouette and DeLaMora will compete in the first varsity boat again this season, while Brown and Schemenski will be a part of the second varsity boat.
The strong group of seniors will join an inexperienced group of freshmen that has had the coaching staff's attention since the start of fall practice.
"This group of freshmen produced the best erg scores of any incoming class we've had here," Hughes said.
With steady improvement during the fall and strong workouts over the winter, the Mids will begin the season with a total of seven plebes rowing in the first or second varsity boats.
"We've got some very good freshmen that have performed very well up to this point," said Hughes. "I think we're a powerful team, but with so many young rowers, we don't have a lot of finesse yet."
Even with so many newcomers and first-time rowers on board, the Mids put together a very strong fall season. The team opened the fall slate at the Navy Day Regatta where the first varsity took the top spot in the open/collegiate eight final. The Mids ended the autumn on a high note with a pair of top-three finishes at the Head of the Occoquan. The varsity boat took third place in a race of 25 crews, while the novice boat won its event, topping 23 others crews.
Hughes hopes the Mids' strong fall and subsequent success in offseason training is a sign of things to come this spring. The Mids open the season with the Murphy Cup where they will get the first opportunity to compete with some of the competition from the conference.
"The Patriot League is very competitive," said Hughes. "We'll get to see Bucknell in both of our first two weekends of competition, as well as few other teams from the league early this year."
The Mids' varsity four crew captured its third Patriot League title in four years last season, but as a team, Navy placed second. Despite falling just short of its goal, Navy responded the next week to win the ECAC title by claiming both the overall points crown and the Directors Cup.
The varsity four boat ended the season by taking first place in the petite final at the Eastern Sprints Championship.
The success the team experienced at the end of last season has certainly pushed the returning Mids to go even harder in 2012. Since beginning practice in the fall, the team has had one focus.
"The Patriot League title is our goal," said Hughes. "We've got a lot of goals as a team, but that's the No. 1 goal."