2003 Women's Crew Outlook
March 10, 2003
BERKELEY - Coming off its best performance at the NCAA Championship Regatta, the Cal women's crew is poised for another history making spring. By virtue of the varsity eight's third place and a third place team finish at the 2002 NCAA's the Golden Bears are clearly one of the premier programs in the country, and the 2003 team looks to make a serious challenge for the national championship.
With seven rowers and the coxswain returning from the 2002 varsity and eighteen from the NCAA team returning, the squad has speed at the top end and depth throughout the squad. In fact, the team boasts twenty-two women who have raced at an NCAA regatta, and fifth year head coach Dave O'Neill feels a combination of experience, leadership, and motivation has Cal headed in the right direction.
'The development of this program has been remarkable. We have had four years of solid recruiting classes, and the result is an incredibly deep team,' said O'Neill. 'We have a terrific mix of seniors through freshmen, and morale has been high throughout the year. We have our eyes set on the Pac-10 and NCAA Championships, and we take steps towards these goals everyday.'
The core of seniors has been most impressive, and leading this class are captains Hilarie Martin, Erin Sanford, and Elyse Lerum. Martin and Sanford have been the bow pair of the varsity since their sophomore year, and Lerum has three letters to her credit. 'Our captains have become terrific leaders, and they have tremendous character,' said O'Neill.
Included in the strong senior class is Khobi Brooklyn, who has been stroking the varsity eight since her freshman year. Although he is unsure of a line-up, O'Neill expects her to play an important role again this spring. 'Khobi is a fierce racer, and her competitiveness and fire cannot be taught.'
Three women who will play a major role in Cal's spring campaign are Martha Helgeland, Shelle Orem, and Ariana Canova. All three competed at the 2002 World U-23 Regatta in Genoa, Italy. Helgeland represented her native Norway, and Orem and Canova raced in the United States four. 'These three are extremely talented, and each has increased her skills. They are real boat movers and are among the top collegiate rowers in the country,' said O'Neill.
Also returning from the bronze medal winning varsity eight are sophomores Laura Terheyden and coxswain Shaina Kennedy. In their first year as Golden Bears they placed third in the country, and both are determined to take Cal to another level.
With so many women returning from the third place team in the country, competition for seats will be tough. Coxswain Kate Goodman, Andrea McDermott, and Emily Burkett raced in the second varsity and have distinguished themselves, and Emily Getchel, Jane Griffith, and Hilary Meu return from the four that won Pac-10's. All should play significant roles again this year.
Two athletes who have greatly improved and look to make a contribution are Karin Clifton and Jessica Patak. 'Karin and JP are very strong, and they have become very skilled rowers. It is great to see them apply such power and move the boat,' said O'Neill.
Two newcomers as Golden Bears are freshman Kaylan Vander Schilden and transfer Kim Atkinson. O'Neill has been impressed with Vander Schilden throughout the year, and Atkinson has recently stepped into the top group with promising results. 'Kaylan is the real deal. She brings a number of great attributes to the team. Length, finesse, power, and personality,' said O'Neill. 'Kim is relatively new to the sport, but she is a very strong athlete.'
Under the leadership of second year assistant coach Sara Nevin the novice squad has been working hard and progressing nicely. 'This class is a good mix of experienced recruits and walk-ons,' said O'Neill. 'Shauna Walchenbach, Sabine Zimmerman, Erin Reinhardt and Natasha LaBelle can race at this level, and two walk-ons that have picked up the sport nicely are Ashley Smith and Naomi Markle.'
The 2003 season will provide the Golden Bears will a number of challenges. The inaugural Windemere Collegiate Crew Classic will be an early test of speed along with the San Diego Crew Classic. Late season duels against rivals Washington and Stanford will national ranking implications.
Regardless, O'Neill remains focused on the Pac-10 and NCAA Championships. 'We have always been able to build speed throughout the spring, and we will need to do so again this year,' said O'Neill. 'Aside from NCAA's, the final at the Pac-10 Championship is the fastest, most competitive race in the country, and we will be ready.'
The preseason polls have yet to be published, and Cal should be ranked close to the top. 'Ultimately, we are looking to be ranked number one at the end of the year,' said O'Neill. 'Obviously, this is a lofty goal, but it is certainly within reach.'
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