Sara Hendershot '10, who stroked the open V8 to a pair of postseason medals in 2010, became Princeton's 12th Olympian Thursday morning. Along with teammate Sarah Zelenka, Hendershot qualified for the London Games by winning the W2- in the Olympic Trials finals.
Hendershot and Zelenka made it through the first two days of Trials, held at Mercer Lake in nearby West Windsor N.J., and faced the team of Amanda Polk and Jamie Redman to earn the lone U.S. berth in the W2-. Both teams had achieved international success last year; Polk and Redman were part of the defending U.S. world champions in the W8+, while Hendershot and Zelenka were winners in the fours at the Worlds.
Hendershot, whose presence in 2010 helped ignite a brilliant stretch for the Princeton open crew, and Zelenka were down at the 1,000-meter mark, but they began to push back. A strong final 500 was enough to take the win and the Olympic berth in 7:27.544, while Polk and Redman placed second in 7:30.980.
Hendershot is the fifth Princeton rower to qualify for the Olympics, joining Sam Loch '06 (Australian M8+), Glenn Ochal '08 (U.S. M4-), Robin Prendes (U.S. LM4-) and Gevvie Stone '07 (U.S. W1x). There are still other rowers in the mix for both the U.S. and Canadian W8+, and those lineups should be announced later this month.
Hendershot stroked the 2010 Princeton crew through a perfect regular season. After getting edged out ia thrilling EAWRC final against Yale (the Tigers took silver), Hendershot led the varsity eight to a bronze medal at the 2010 NCAA Championships. It was Princeton's first V8 medal since winning the 2006 NCAA gold, and it was its fourth V8 medal overall.
Hendershot was the lone senior rower in that boat (fellow co-captain Ari Frost was the coxswain and the only other V8 senior), and she helped a talented group of younger rowers reach their potential the following season. The 2011 Princeton V8 went undefeated and captured the EAWRC and Ivy League titles before winning the program's second NCAA title.
"She was definitely a huge part of our NCAA championship the year after she graduated," said Princeton head coach Lori Dauphiny. "She really set the tone, set the example with how confident and spirited she is. She worked her way from challenging seasons to an outstanding senior year. She slowly chiseled her way up the national team with her work ethic, her positive spirit and her confidence. It showed in this race."