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With only three races left in her Red and Blue career. senior Jenna Hebert has big aspirations for her team before she moves onto the next chapter of her career as a Rhodes Scholar.

A four-year rower in the Varsity 8, a two-time CRCA National Scholar Athlete, a two-time first-team CRCA All-Region and a 2016 Rhodes Scholar all sit in the same boat.

With a lineup stacked with such talent and determination, it’s easy to see why Penn is in the midst of a spell of success.

Last week’s win over Cornell to claim the Class of ‘89 Plaque — Penn’s first in over eight years — showed that this is not your typical Red and Blue crew. For the first time in a long time, Penn seems to be in position to challenge its fellow Ivy opponents for an NCAA berth.

A large part of this newfound spirit can be attributed to star senior and 2016 Rhodes Scholar Jenna Hebert. Now, you might ask, “what about the other three factors, the other three rowers whose accolades were listed above?”

Turns out those all belong to Hebert, too.

Some crews would be happy to take the Pittsburgh native’s athletic ability and spread it out over half a boat, but luckily for the Quakers, Hebert only takes up one seat.

A Penn Athletics release at the time of Hebert’s Rhodes Scholar announcement in November read, “Hebert is not only a member of the Penn women’s rowing program, she is arguably the Quakers’ top rower.”

Statements like that can place unwelcome amounts of pressure on a single person, but Hebert is quick to turn attention to the support and efforts of her teammates.

“I don’t think I felt pressure,” she said. “We have some really amazing rowers on the team, so I just use them as inspiration and to push me to be the best version of myself.”

While the camaraderie of the boat is not lost on Hebert, she has made a name for herself in particular through her renowned effort and determination.

“I think she had a great reputation that preceded her before I arrived at Penn,” coach Wesley Ng said.

“I knew of her as a hard worker, someone with a lot of physical capacity, somebody who was very conscientious,” the first-year coach continued. “And all of those things were really confirmed during the very first few weeks of practice.”

What makes Hebert’s success on the water even more impressive is the fact that it is on equal standing, if not surpassed, by her incredible academic achievement. She is the first Penn athlete to be named a Rhodes Scholar since 1984 and is now only the fifth inductee to that illustrious list of athlete scholars.

“I’m not going to say that it’s easy to balance Division I rowing and rigorous academics at Penn, but honestly, I think that rowing has helped me perform well in academics,” the 5-foot-5 bow seat said.

“Also, I know it’s a cliche, but rowing really makes you strong mentally,” she continued. “So taking a 15-minute exam is nothing after doing a three-hour long practice.”

As true as that statement may be, her coaches and teammates have come to recognize that Hebert is one of a kind.

“I think I underestimated her willingness to go really hard and her capacity to succeed in everything that was asked of her,” Ng said.

Such observations have also led fellow rowers to ask more out of the former U-23 national team member, who only this season begun to make her voice heard. For a long time, Hebert embodied the strong, silent type — the team standout who led by example more so than loudness.

At the urging of her coach and teammates, Hebert has stepped into a more engaging role, adding yet another dimension to her dynamic skillset.

“What was neat in our spring training trip in Gainesville was her teammates asked her to be more vocal,” Ng said. “I think they respect her knowledge and her skill and her opinion, and they wanted to hear more of what she had to say.”

Come this fall, after four years on the Schuylkill, the Quakers’ prized rower will take that same skill set over to the River Thames, where she plans to row for Oxford.

“I see myself going until pretty much my back goes out. It’s a sport that you can do pretty much forever.”

But in between Hebert and the next chapter of her rowing career lie three more races in the Red and Blue, and the senior is determined to make her final season not only the best of her four years, but potentially the best in this new millennium so far.

Penn’s first and only NCAA championship appearance dates back to 1998. Hebert and her teammates are determined to amend that discouraging piece of history.

“That’s something we’ve never done before, and I think it’s something that we could accomplish this year,” Hebert said. “We still have about a month left in the season to accomplish that, so that would be a great way to end my four years.”

With Ng at the helm, who Hebert claims has brought the Red and Blue to the next level with his revamped training program and focus on technique, the Quakers might have their best chance in recent memory.

The likelihood of such an accomplishment will be tested this weekend when the team goes up against Dartmouth, Princeton and Bucknell.

“I have a huge amount of respect for what Princeton is doing with their varsity boats,” Ng said. ”I think we’re going to try and keep the margin as close as we can and use them as a foil to test our preparation.”

“I think we need to start getting closer so that in future years we have a chance to really make a run at that trophy.”

In addition, when the Varsity C 4 boat takes to the water this Saturday, it will be the first time that Penn has fielded an entire team with multiple rowers returning from injury.

On the men’s side, the heavies will venture up to the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass. where they will face Harvard and Navy in the Blackwell Cup. The lightweights will join the women in Princeton where they will compete in the West-Hammond Cup against the Tigers and Georgetown.

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