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Though Penn women's rowing took 15th place out of 21 teams in a tough field at Clemson, those numbers are a bit deceptive — the Quakers were the best of three Ivy teams competing.

Credit: Zach Sheldon

While the majority of Penn students were busting out new fling tanks and party hopping, Penn rowing had a busy weekend in a different way — but with mixed results.

After last week’s frustrating second-place finish against Yale, the heavyweight crew was eager to welcome Harvard and Navy to the Schuylkill River for the Adams Cup. Unfortunately for Penn, it once again failed to take first place in the Varsity 8 and Second Varsity 8. Last week the Varsity 8 boat was demolished by Yale by 10 seconds. This week, the youthful Varsity 8 boat lost to Harvard by eight seconds.

Fortunately for Penn, it sneaked by a weak Navy team. However, with the Eastern Sprints and IRAs coming up, two straight weeks of underperforming is very concerning.

The Second Varsity 8 had an even worse day, finishing third behind Harvard and Navy. Considering the Quakers were on home water, this third-place finish is surprising and unacceptable.

A superior Harvard team bested second-place Navy by seven seconds and Penn by 16 seconds. But despite two straight weeks of disappointment, Penn’s future is bright with a young squad that hopes to make waves — no pun intended — for years to come.

On the heavyweight Varsity 8, five out of eight rowers are freshmen, and only senior Elliot Bok will be graduating. Penn does have to replace senior coxswain Lauren Hochman, but junior Sabrina Stanich is a strong candidate to take over for Hochman next year. In essence, next year’s squad will be many of the same faces with just more experience, a scary realization for future Ivy League foes.

The lightweight men’s rowing team, also on the Schuylkill, faced similar woes coming up short against Princeton in the Wood-Hammond Cup. Penn’s Ivy League arch nemesis swept all the races on the day.

The lightweight Quakers narrowly lost to Princeton by a little over one second in the varsity 8 race. However, Princeton took care of business more comfortably in the four other races. Still, Penn bested Georgetown in three of the four races, with Georgetown not competing in the 4th Varsity 8 race.

Unlike their heavyweight counterparts, next year will see a lot of turnover for the lightweights, with four seniors graduating from the top boat. Sophomore Julia Hansen is a strong candidate to take over the void left by senior coxswain Genny Liebes. However, the battle for the other rowing positions will be tightly contested.

Lastly, the women’s rowing team travelled down south for the Clemson Invitational. If the Quakers were expecting friendly southern hospitality, though, they got a rude awakening. This two-day regatta was a stark reminder that they still have a long way to go.

In the Saturday races, none of Penn’s boats finished in the top half of its heat.

“We came out very excited to race and committed some errors of aggression,” coach Wesley Ng said.

The afternoon proved a little kinder for the Quakers with the best performance coming from the Second Varsity 4 boat. After coming in fourth out of seven boats in their morning heat, the boat rebounded and came in third in the second round.

“I was encouraged by our resiliency and our ability to bounce back,” Ng said. “There was a good impetus on team unity and supporting one another.”

When it was all said and done, women’s crew finished 15th out of 21 in total points. This, however, does not capture the whole picture. Despite what appears to be a weak performance, the Quakers still have plenty to take pride in from their performance.

Penn finished highest among the Ivy League teams present, with Columbia coming in 16th and Cornell coming in last. Furthermore, after a rough Saturday, the Varsity 8 boat made it to the B final on Sunday morning. The second varsity 8 merely overtook home Clemson in the C final losing by a mere .27 seconds.

Looking ahead to next year, women’s crew looks to be on the rise.

“It’s an entire group of people, particularly the freshmen and sophomores who are ready to step up,” Ng said. “That generally means doing a better job in practice, staying more consistent, and not waiting for race day to do their very best.”