Sweeping to the end of the fall season

Emma Polen | Editor-in-Chief 

The Duquesne Women’s Rowing team headed to Philadelphia last weekend for the final invitational of their fall “prep” season that preparing them for the official championship season in the spring.

Duquesne raced four eight-person boats, which hold eight rowers plus their coxswain and their boats raced in three varsity rowing events, and one freshmen event.

The boats headed onto the river Saturday morning, just in time for the sun to come out.

“We’ve been rowing in colder weather,” said Catherine Egan, senior coxswain. But before this race, the team was putting on sunscreen.

“It was perfect racing conditions,” Nora Grace Foglia, sophomore rower, said. The water was flat and the temperature was nice.

During the fall season, the Duquesne team races both eight-person and four-person rowing events.

This fall season, the rowing team did more four-person, single and double boat races during prior meets, Foglia said. However, since this weekend’s race was the fall season’s main regatta, the team stuck with 8-person boats which are the most competitive in the championship season.

The invitational season differs from the Dukes’ championship season in the spring from the beginning of the race to its length. Like with runners, who do longer cross country events during one season and shorter sprints during track season, the rowing team races longer courses during the fall.

Including last weekend, the fall season include meets called head races, which is more of a time trial than a boat-to-boat competition.

Each team’s boat does not start at the same time, instead beginning at separate intervals for a rolling start. This means that teams are not sure where they placed once they finished, and the results are posted once every team has raced.

Longer courses during the fall season can vary in length from 4ks to 6ks in bending water courses.

The championship spring season involves shorter races, about 2ks, in straighter waters.

Last weekend’s race in Philly lasted 4.2K, or 4200 meters along the Schuylkill River

Two 90-degree turns in the course made it harder to navigate, Egan said.

On top of calling motivation and stroke, more bends in the course requires more commands, Egan said, which requires more focus. A turn also makes the boat more unstable, which puts more pressure on the coxswain.

The starting line was just outside the downtown area, and the end finished with the city’s skylines still in sight.

The three varsity boats competed in three separate events. The second varsity boat to race placed eighth out of 42 competing teams.

Saturday marked the first time Duquesne had a boat finish in the top 10 on the Schuylkill course since 2016.

“We hadn’t worked a lot together this season, so getting out there and doing so well exceeded our expectations,” Foglia, sophomore, said.

“Finishing the course, it was really exciting because we passed a boat but we didn’t get passed which is a good sign in these types of races,” Egan said.

The freshman boat, which competed in the womens’ college freshmen/novice event, placed fifth out of 19 teams.

“We were able, throughout the entire race, keep our composure, which helped a lot.”

Kyra Tziovannis, freshman rower, said. “There was just a lot of really tough competition.”

Duquesne’s boats beat most of the other competitors in the A-10 who were at Schuylkill, assistant coach Jill Peters said.

“Spring’s still pretty far away but I think that it’s a pretty good indicator of a successful outcome,” she said. “The girls put in a lot of hard work this season and I think it went really well.”

With the Head of the Schuylkill meet wrapping up the team’s fall season, they will be transitioning into winter training. While the Allegheny River will become too cold to practice on, the Dukes will head inside for conditioning training with rowing machines, cross training and lifting.

“Winter training is focused on…building fitness, getting more meters, getting more technique, more competitive,” Peters said.

The rowers are looking forward to racing more and getting closer with the team.

“It will be a really speedy Spring,” Egan said.

Features Editor Bella Abbott is a member of the Women’s Rowing team.