Senior Kelsey Reelick knows what championship speed feels like.
She was the lone freshman in the 2011 Princeton varsity eight that won both the inaugural Ivy League championship and the NCAA grand final. Last season, Reelick made a triumphant return to the Ivy League final, and she helped push the varsity eight to a silver medal at the NCAA Championships.
Now a senior, Reelick understands that her squad isn’t where it needs to be just yet. Considering the Ivy League Championships are still more than a month away, that is just fine. Over the first two races, the same eight rowers split a pair of regattas, though there was significant seat-switching from Week 1 to Week 2.
“Every race can be measured by margins and times,” Reelick said. “However the members of the boat are able to sense internal progress through boat feel and greater ability to execute workouts. Sometimes it is less about brute force, and more about where individuals are placed within the boat to maximize their individual potential, and to allow for the others around them to row to their highest potential too.”
Currently ranked eighth nationally, Princeton is 2-2 this year and has only lost to boats ranked among the Top 6. It will make its first road trip of the season this weekend to compete for The Class of 1975 Cup on the Charles River; the regatta against both No. 14 Harvard and No. 18 Cornell will begin Saturday at 7:12 am.
While any win is a good one, Princeton can find some added motivation from last season; the Tigers’ lone regular season loss in 2013 came to Harvard by 2.2 seconds on the Cayuga Inlet.
“There is a sense of excitement going into this weekend, as our first away race, and the race for the win that we failed to walk away with last year,” Reelick said. “We are expecting some choppy conditions, and some fierce competition, but have been working hard in hopes of regaining that Cup.”
"Our team is composed of a group of tough individuals and I believe that everyone will go out this weekend with a lot of heart and determination no matter what," said senior classmate Margaret Bertasi. "It’s always fun to do well at away races, and I think that our team would be pretty fired up to win on the Charles this Saturday. Plus it would be nice to have the cup back in the boathouse for next year."
A pair of wins would also mark the first perfect weekend for the first varsity, though Bertasi knows that plenty good can come from both races.
"Though it is always tough to have losses this early in the season, I think that it is extremely valuable for us to be challenged from the beginning," she said. "I think that our program will continue to make strides throughout the season and the results from these past weekends will provide a good base from which we can develop."